Alan Paton appears at Maropeng

The “Long March to Freedom” Exhibition is being relocated from the Fountains Gardens to Maropeng.  There are probably not many people alive whose grandparent is represented in the exhibition. I believe that I am the only person who, in addition to being an immediate descendant of one of the heroic figures in “The Long March to Freedom”, also works for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.  (The Official Visitor Centre of the site comprises of Maropeng and Sterkfontein).

The facial likeness of my grandfather is a good one, although he has been given a body which is about 20cm taller than his real height, so instead of being noticeably shorter than me at around 1.65m, his statue depicts a man of about 1.85m, which makes him taller than me, and somewhat more athletic looking than he actually was.

Besides this, the attention to detail is impressive.  For example, the detail of the missing index finger on his left hand is faithfully captured in the sculpture.  He lost the finger after one of the boys from the Diepkloof Reformatory (where he was once the principal) bit his hand reportedly in retaliation for Alan Paton giving the boy a beating.  Some of the inmates of Diepkloof Reformatory remembered Alan Paton as a harsh disciplinarian, whilst others remembered him as “the man who pulled up the barbed wire and planted geraniums”.   Of course this is long before I was born, so I cannot comment on whose memories were the more accurate.

The Alan Paton I knew in real life often wore the stern and serious expression which is well captured in the sculpture by Rosamund O’Connor.  Yet he was also fond of jokes, so when he received his monthly National Geographic and saw that it had a picture of a chimpanzee on the cover, he showed it to me, saying “Look, Anty, you are on the front cover of National Geographic!” to which I replied “No, grandad, that is not me, that is you.”  Unimpressed by my insolence, he went on to try the same line on my brother, Nic. To my delight my brother (without prompting or consultation) also said “No, grandad, that is you!” And I believe we had a point, because his facial expressions, particularly those of his mouth, were indeed often slightly simian.  Whether his lips were puckered, pouted or tightly closed as though sucking a lemon, he had the ability to present an unmistakable resemblance to some kind of ape, a theme which led to much banter and mythology in the Paton family.

Although Alan Paton was a conservative Christian in many ways, he was a firm follower of Darwin’s theory of evolution, and he displayed an impressive grasp of its general principals.  In fact, he was a science teacher and had no tertiary education in literature or the arts, which may take many people by surprise. He was had a broad interest in natural history and I believe he was (more than any other single individual) instrumental in developing my particular interest in birds.  Indeed, his two famous novels have birds which form important motifs in the narrative. In Cry the Beloved Country there is regular reference to the titihoya, known in English as the Black-winged Lapwing.  The “forlorn crying” of this bird may represent nostalgia for the innocence that may once have existed in rural areas, or may represent the Ixopo area, which is the heartland of this near threatened endemic bird and home to both the Jarvis and the Kumalo families.  In Too Late the Phalarope the phalarope plays a critical symbolic role.  This bird is usually seen off shore, but which occasionally ventures to inland dams and wetlands, where it is a rare and sought after species amongst birders.  The protagonist of the book and his father are united by the arrival of such a bird, but unfortunately their reconciliation is transitory and soon, like the bird, is seen no more.

Alan Paton was also influential in my developing a love for traveling, word games, card games and the rather eccentric game of croquet.  Croquet is a very mean game in which the best avenue to success is destroying the planned moves of your opponents. Bishop Ambrose Reeves, of whom Alan Paton was the biographer, reputedly called out on the croquet field “That’s the way! Bash them up! There’s the good Christian spirit!”  The dry wit and irony displayed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was not unprecedented amongst the historical clergical leadership of the Anglican Church. In his visit to the Maropeng, Tutu declared controversially the he considered that the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site “should be considered a sacred place!”

The arrival of the Alan Paton statue amidst the esteemed gathering of heroes in “The Long March to Freedom” at Maropeng is a special thrill for me.  Now, not only are my most ancient ancestors represented at Maropeng, but one of my most recent ancestors now appears there too. I have a real sense that Maropeng is the home of my ancestors to a degree that is remarkable, profound and complete.

Join the Long March to Freedom Art Walk

Last January I visited the Long March to Freedom National Heritage Monument in Fountains Valley, Pretoria. I was enchanted by this glorious phalanx of 100 bronze South African freedom fighters, all marching in the same direction.

But the Long March to Freedom was hidden in Fountains Valley. No one would ever come upon it without actively looking.

A year later, the monument has moved to a much better location at Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind. Maropeng is one of Gauteng province’s top tourist attractions, and the Long March to Freedom is prominently placed right at the entrance. Now thousands of people will get to see the monument every month, which is exactly the attention it deserves.

I took a trip out to Maropeng a couple of weeks ago. Not all the sculptures had been moved yet, but there were enough. The army of heroes marched across the open grassland, on this site where humankind was born, in their quest for freedom.

The Long March to Freedom Art Walk

Maropeng is about an hour north of central Joburg and I encourage everyone to get out there ASAP to see the Long March to Freedom. (Right now the sculptures are scheduled to stay there for six months but hopefully that period will be extended.) In the meantime, I’m organizing a little Long March to Freedom art walk in Joburg.

There are more than 40 sculptors involved in the Long March to Freedom project. One of them, Nkhensani Rihlampfu, is a friend of mine and has his studio at No. One Eloff Street in downtown Jozi.

On Friday, 8 February, I’m organizing a visit to Nkhensani’s studio at 10:00 a.m. Nkhensani will talk a bit about his art and his participation in the Long March to Freedom project. Then we’ll take a five-minute walk to the Workhorse Bronze Foundry, where many of the Long March to Freedom sculptures were cast.

I visited the Foundry briefly a couple of years ago. It’s a beautiful place to take photos and learn about the bronze casting process.

(Sorry this walk has to be on a weekday — I know it’s not convenient for the nine-to-fivers among you. But the Foundry is closed on weekends.)

The art walk will be limited to 15 participants. To sign up, please send a message through my Contact Me page. (No social media comments or direct messages, please.) I’ll take the first 15 responders.

Also, there will be a contest for the best Instagram photo of the day and the winner gets an Instax mini 9 camera.

A TIMELINE OF SOUTH AFRICA’S SLAVE HISTORY

A TIMELINE OF SOUTH AFRICA’S SLAVE HISTORY

Louis van Mauritius, a slave rebellion leader as he stands in the Long March to Freedom. To read more on him, visit: Louis van Mauritius

WE COMMEMORATE THE 1 December every year in commemoration of EMANCIPATION DAY, the day all slaves were free men in South Africa, 1 December 1838. Here is a simple timeline on the development of slavery in the colonies.

1602

Chamber Representatives of the Netherlands Parliament grant a founding charter to the Dutch East India Company to establish an Indian trading empire in the East.

1652

The Dutch East India Company started a refreshment station at the Cape for its VOC shipping fleet on their way to East and/or on their return trips from Batavia

1653

Abraham van Batavia, the first slave, arrives at the Cape. Before the first shipment of slaves in 1658, a hand full off slaves had already arrived in the Cape with their ‘owners’. By 1658 there were 11 slaves, 8 women and 3 men at the Cape. One of these, Abraham, was a stowaway who, in 1653, arrived from the East aboard the ship Malacca, claiming to have run away from his master, Cornelis Lichthart of Batavia. Abraham was set to work at the Cape.

1654

A slaving voyage is undertaken from the Cape via Mauritius to Madagascar.

1658

Farms granted to Dutch free burghers (ex-Company soldiers).

The first shipload of slaves are brought to the Cape, from Angola on-board the ship, the Amersfoort.

1666

Slaves helped built the Castle – Fort Good Hope.

1679

Foundations laid for the Company Slave Lodge.

1687

Free burghers petition for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1693

Slaves at the Cape outnumber free people for the first time

1700

Government directive restricting male slaves being brought from the East.

1717

Dutch East India Company ends assisted immigration from Europe and retains the institution of slavery as the main labour system for the Cape.

1719

Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1720

France occupies Mauritius.

1722

Slave post established Lourenco Marques by Dutch.

1725

Evidence that runaway slaves have been living at the mountainous Hangklip for extensive periods, between Gordons Bay and Kleinmond/Hermanus.

1732

Maputo slave post abandoned due to mutiny.

1738

The Moravian Church started their first mission station at Baviaans-kloof, now known as Genadendal in the Swellendam district.

1745 – 46

Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1753

Governor Rijk Tulbagh codifies slave law.

1754

The governor, Tulbagh, consolidated the numerous VOC slave regulations into a single placaaten, the Cape Slave Code

A census taken of the Cape colony at the time showed the two populations, both slaves and settlers to be roughly equal to about 6000 each.

1767

Abolition of importation of male slaves from Asia.

1779

Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

1784

Free burghers petition again for slave trade to be opened to free enterprise.

Government directive abolishing the importation of male slaves from Asia repeated.

1787

Government directive abolishing the importation of male slaves from Asia repeated again.

1791

Slave trade opened to free enterprise.

1792

The Moravian Missionary Society re-established their first mission station, Genadendal in the Swellendam district.

1795

The British takes over control of the Cape and remain in charge throughout the 19th century.

1796

The British outlaws torture and some of the most brutal forms of capital punishments.

A pamphlet advertising slaves, 28 September 1801
Source: National Library of South Africa

1803

Dutch temporarily re-occupy the Cape of Good Hope (Short three years, see Batavian Republic).

1806

Britain occupies the Cape again.

Company slaves are released from the Slave Lodge under rule of the then Governor, the Earl of Caledon.

Mission station at Groene-kloof [Mamre] near Malmesbury. This former military outpost on the farm, Louwplaas was offered by the British government to the Moravian Missionary Society for the establishment of a mission station. There are more than 5 000 people living at Mamre today.

1807

Britain passes Abolition of Slave Trade Act, outlawing the Trans-Indian Oceanic slave trade. It was now illegal to be a slave trader buying or selling slaves, but it was still legal to own slaves.

Prohibition on the importation of overseas slaves resulted in increasing the exchange value of Cape born Creole slaves.

1808

Britain enforces the Abolition of Slave Trade Act, ending the external slave trade. Slaves can now be traded only within the colony.

The Koeberg slave rebellion in the Swartland near Malmesbury, led by Louis of Mauritius, is defeated at Salt River. Resulted in the capturing of 300 farm slaves as dissidents.

1812

The London Missionary Society was invited by the leader of the local Khoi i.e. the Attaquas tribe to establish a mission station.  Thus the mission station, Zuurbraak was established at the foot of Tradouw Pass.

The London Missionary Society sponsored  missionary, Rev Charles Pacalt who established this small mission station a few miles south of George. Pacaltsdorp, presently a vibrant ‘Cape Coloured’ town outside George in the Southern Cape.

1813

Het Gesticht, the fourth oldest church building in South Africa and erected in 1813 by the inhabitants of Paarl as a meeting house for non-Christian slaves and heathen in the town. The Paarl Missionary Society took over the administration of Het Gesticht. It has been proclaimed a National Monument, and serves nowadays as a museum for the South African Mission Foundation.

Fiscal Dennyson codifies the Cape Slave Law.

1822

Last slaves imported, illegally.

1823

The British House of Commons discusses the conditions of slaves at the Cape of Good Hope by appointing a parliamentary commission of enquiry due to relentless pressure of the Anti-Slavery Abolitionists lobby.

1825

Appointment of two Crown Commissioners, visiting the Cape of Good Hope – including the various mission settlements – to investigate slavery at the Cape.

A second slave uprising at the farm, Hou-den-Bek, led by Galant van die Kaap, is defeated in the Koue Bokkeveld, near Ceres.

1826

Guardian of Slaves appointed.

The Colonial Office intervened by forcing local colonial assemblies to bring the local amelioration legislation such Ordinance 19 of 1826  promulgated at the Cape, into line  with the Trinidad Order aimed at the sugar plantation slave owners. Thus the British introduced ameliorisation laws  in order to improve the living conditions of slaves as well as a a series of practical  ameliorisation measures to make punishments less cruel, and the Office of the Protector of Slaves is established with Assistant Slave Protectors in rural towns and villages away from Cape Town.

Collapse of the Cape wine industry.

A certificate from the Slave Registry Office, 1827 Source: Iziko Museum, Cape Town

1827

Coloured Persons qualified for the municipal franchise of Cape Town, and a Malay property owner was elected as Wardmaster.

1828

Ordinance 50 of 1828 liberated Khoisan into the category on par with Free Blacks and placed all Free Black persons i.e. both Hottentots and Vrye Swartes on equal legal footing with White colonists within the judiciary system.

The two Rhenish missionaries, J G Leipoldt and T. von Wurmb jointly bought a farm Rietmond on the Tratra River in the Cedarberg District.  The Rhenish Missionary Society started several industries, including the well-known shoe making factory at the Wupperthal mission station.

1830

Slave owners have to start keeping a record of punishments.

Revised provisions of Ordinance 19 by the British Parliament  resulted in the renamed Office of the Protector of Slaves.

1831

Stellenbosch slave owners rioted by refusing to accept this order to keep registers  of slave punishments.

1832

More than 2000 slave owners assembled in Cape Town to hold a protest meeting demonstrating against this government order which was adopted without proper consultation.

1833

The Rhenish Mission Society ensured that a mission chapel was built and completed in 1833. As a result the Headquarters of the Rhenish Mission Society relocated from Steinthal near Tulbach to Worcester.

1833

Emancipation Decree issued in London.

1834

Slavery is abolished in British colonies on 01 December, liberated slaves now falls into the category of Free Blacks, although the ‘freed’ slaves are forced to serve an extended four year apprenticeship to make them ‘fit for freedom’.

The Cape farmers faced prolonged weather conditions of drought.

The Berlin Missionary Society established a mission at Bethanie.

1835

Ordinance No. 1 of 1835 introduced the terms of apprenticeship at the Cape, including the appointment of special magistrates.

1836

Start of the Great Trek by 12 000 frontier farmers, who demonstrated their unhappiness about the government’s policy to release slaves from the control of  Free Burghers as slaveholders.

Non-Whites were finally accorded similar treatment like White colonists in their interaction with the public institutions of the local authorities.

1838

End of slave “apprenticeship”. About 39 000 slaves are freed on Emancipation Day, 1 December 1838. Only 1,2 million pounds paid out against the original estimated compensation amount of 3 milion pounds which were initially set aside by the British government in compensation monies for the  about  1 300 affected slaveholding farmers at the Cape Good Hope.

On the day of the actual release of slave apprentices, there was a three day rainy period which was followed by an extremely wet winter season which led to wide scale flooding across the Cape Colony;

1839

The Moravian Missionary Society acquired the farm, Vogelstruyskraal near Cape Agulhas in the Caledon District. The newly established mission station was named Elim. Today, the town of Elim has a population of 2000 inhabitants.

1841

Masters and Servants Ordinance regularising and criminalizing labour relationships between employer and employee in favour of the former slave masters based on the past CAPE SLAVE CODES originally issued by the VOC as Placaaten of India.

The roots of ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’

Ever wonder where our national anthem Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika comes from? Journalist Daluxolo Moloantoa reached back to the late 19th century to find out…

http://www.theheritageportal.co.za/article/missionary-beginnings-nkosi-sikelel-iafrika

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika Composer Enoch Sontonga, copyright City of Johannesburg Library, via The Heritage Portal

DID YOU KNOW: The song became a pan-African liberation anthem and was later adopted as the national anthem of five countries in Africa including Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe after independence. Zimbabwe and Namibia have since adopted new national anthems.

Professor Phil Bonner

Professor Phil Bonner
1945-2017

We here at the National Heritage Monument heard with great sadness that our esteemed colleague and respected historical advisor Professor Phil Bonner passed away on Sunday, 24 September 2017. It was national Heritage Day – a striking coincidence that would not have been lost on Prof, in fact, no doubt he would have chuckled at that.

Professor Bonner was instrumental in helping to draw up our first long list of people to be commemorated in the Long March to Freedom, a list that is still consulted today. He has contributed greatly to the development of the biographical panels that accompany the sculptures now standing in Fountains Valley, and corrected many an error in historical fact, grammatical turns of phrase and political jargon.

Of particular importance to him was the burning desire not to whitewash history, and even when commemorating, to tell the whole story. He never shied away from revealing weaknesses, whether in an individual or in an organisation, but always put these in their greater context, because at heart he always wanted people to get the fuller picture. Not the headline stuff, but the much more interesting nuanced and complex ‘sub-events’ that give rise to the more known bigger events.

Although not born in South Africa, he deeply loved this country, and knew its history better than most.

He is a loss to the Long March to Freedom, but we have no doubt that our research team and researchers in the future will continue stumbling across his work and use it to great effect when rewriting South Africa’s history.

For a fuller understanding of Professor Bonner’s political and academic contributions, please follow this link https://johannesburgreviewofbooks.com/2017/09/26/the-jrb-daily-obituary-professor-phil-bonner-1945-2017/

Some of Professor Bonner’s books:

 

WELCOME Ekukhanyiselweni Christian School!!!

A group of students from Ekukhanyiselweni Christian School learning about the ancient art form of bronze sculptures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We received our first big school tour on Friday from the Ekukhanyiselweni Christian School in Tembisa, who were blown away by their unusual visit to this unique outdoor history class.

History teacher Daniel Joseph took his class to visit the Long March to Freedom as part of one of their history assignments. The 23 students were each given one of the almost 100 sculptures on site to research and spent a long time getting to know the sculptures and their role in South Africa’s history.

One of the students from Ekukhanyselweni Christian School studying information on struggle icon Walter Sisulu, who walk proudly next to wife Albertina Sisulu

The Long March was littered with learners sitting or standing next to info panels that gave a brief biography of the many liberation heroes of South Africa’s 350-year struggle to democracy.

Among the favourites were Shaka, King of the Zulus, Solomon Mahlangu, martyr from the 1976 Soweto Uprisings, and South Africa’s first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela.

With tour guides Alfred Mahapa and Tumo Bopape, the students walked through a procession of some of the country’s most inspiring icons in this unique heritage park.

History class will never be the same again for these young visitors…

All schools are welcome to visit the Long March to Freedom which is open from Mondays to Sundays. For more visitor information, visit our website. Get in touch for a guided school visit.

Site guide Reverend Alfred Mahapa giving his own history lesson