Spier History: Sannie’s Story
Mariota: Welcome to Sannie’s Story
I'm Mariota Enthoven, a member of the family that bought Spier in 1993. I've been living with my husband, Angus McIntosh, and three children here since 2007.
You should be standing by the red brick steps at the back entrance of the wine tasting room. Turn so the large pond is on your left.
The farm in front of you that spreads out from here is old. Its first recorded resident was a Mr Arnoud Jansz, who arrived here almost 350 years ago, four years after Stellenbosch was established.
The land would have been wild then, with wallowing hippos and prowling Cape lions to keep the new occupants on their toes. It was worked over centuries into what you see today, as much by Mr Jansz and his descendants as by the people they brought with them by force – slaves from Holland’s trading empire, bought and sold in places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Madagascar – as well as the local people, called the Khoe Khoe, who joined them unwillingly in a life that stripped away identity, until it was hard to work out who came from where.
This is the story of one of these slaves, researched and written by one of South Africa’s foremost playwrights, Brett Bailey. Your narrator, Sannie de Goede, is a fictional character – a slave woman on the Spier Farm in 1836, on the eve of her freedom. Like the rest of the slaves at the Cape, she would have been emancipated in 1834, but was forced to serve a so-called apprenticeship for four years before walking free on the 1st of December 1838.
Sannie’s story unfolds while you explore the farm.
Before we get started, let me briefly explain how VoiceMap works.
It uses your location to play audio automatically, at the right time and place. This means that you can put your phone away now. Don't worry if I'm silent for a while, when I'm not giving directions or telling stories. There's a map on your screen if you ever feel lost, and if you do get way off track without noticing, VoiceMap will let you know.
We hope this walk connects you to Sannie, and thousands of others like her, who sweated and wept and bled to build the magnificent farms we enjoy today. It’s a sore past; one that it hurts to look at. But it’s time to remember, reflect, and heal.
Sannie: Long, long before any Europeans came to this land, when time was still new, you know; long before even the [Kotsha Khoe?] came (my fathers people, whom the Dutch call the Hottentots) before the [Kotshokwa?] came with their cattle, and their songs, before these hills were here, when the riverbed was above our heads, and the mountains were still soft, people lived here.
I can feel them sometimes, true as god, on quiet nights, when the farm is asleep and the stars call me outside. I see their shadows near the trees. I'm telling you. A flicker of fire, children singing. The glitter of an eye, and the gleam of recognition. Those people were free.
Animals come to the river to drink. So many of them. Animals I have never seen. With long necks, and straight black horns on their heads. Small creatures, and huge ones with long noses and tusks coming out from their faces. Big spotted cats. They lived here and died here from the very beginning you know. Until the farmers came. This place is thick with their memory. Layers and layers of them. And they too were free.
But that was before.
Come man, walk with me through this farm yard. This estate of big houses and stables and cellars. Of slave quarters and trees and gardens. This place of food and wine and laughter. Of slaves and animals and masters and ghosts. Of those who write history, and of those who have none. This farm tells the story of me and my family, for 70 years. Our pain and our suffering. Our loves and our deaths and our dreams. All forgotten now.
Me and this farm, ooh, our bloods are mixed. Let me show you our story. Come. Down there to the big rocks.
Mariota: You heard Sannie.
Make your way along the raised section of the lawn, staying to the right of the pond. Keep going towards the big rock.