The Lodge, the second oldest building in Cape Town and the country's oldest surviving slave building, was built in 1679 as the slave lodge of the Dutch East India Company. The orientation center on slavery at the Cape documented the Cape's role in the Indian Ocean slave trade route, where slaves were brought to the Cape from Indonesia, India, Ceylon, Madagascar and Mozambique.
After the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, there were two slave rebellions at the Cape, in 1808 and 1825. Though slaves living at the Cape were emancipated on December 1st, 1834, they weren't freed. Until 1838, they were apprenticed to their former owners without pay.
After the British occupation of the Cape and the 1807 abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire, the Iziko Slave Lodge became government offices and later the first Supreme Court. In the process, the Lodge was stripped of its slave history. Only in 1998, was the building renamed the Slave Lodge. The aim of the exhibit 'Remembering Slavery' was to tell of the long history of slavery in South Africa and raise awareness of human rights.
Slaves at the Cape: Slaves were introduced to the Cape in 1658, six years after the VOC (the Dutch name for the Dutch East India Company) established a refreshment station at the Cape. The Indian Ocean basin became the main region from which slaves were transported to the Cape. An infrastructure was developed at the Cape, which included a fort and a castle (The latter will be a subject in a future post.), jetties, a small town and outlying farms. The goal was to provide fresh food and water, medical assistance and repairs to the Company's boats.
Cape VOC society and its economy quickly came to depend on slavery. The long term effects of the system continue to this day.
Below is a plan of an unnamed slave ship that delivered slaves to Mauritius and Reunion, an island in the Indian Ocean, in 1826 well after the British declared an end to the slave trade in 1807. The image showed slaves packed tightly like sardines. The 200-ton ship accommodated 400 slaves.
Column of Memory: An alcove featured an interactive column of light commemorating the slaves who, as property of the VOC, were confined in the dark, damp and prison-like spaces of the Slave Lodge. The names of slaves were embedded on each ring. Turning the column and the rings symbolized a process of remembering the 8,000 names of men, women and children whose fate it was to live and die in the Slave Lodge.
The rings of the column of light were inspired by tree rings, symbolizing rings of life, the passing of time and "holding of memories." The inspiration for the column came from the story that slave auctions took place under trees in Cape Town, such as the one in the courtyard behind the Slave Lodge.
One darkened room was given over to one of the most compelling exhibits, called The Slave Calendar. We read that many of the slave-holders ended up giving slaves calendar names based on the month that they were brought to the Cape, such as February, April and September.
Many singers and bands added their voices to the struggle through their music. Jazz, rock, reggae, hip hop and other musical genres played an important role in the struggle for freedom.
Makeba campaigned against the South African system of apartheid. The South African government responded by revoking her passport in 1960 and her citizenship and right of return in 1963. As the apartheid system fell apart, she returned home for the first time in 1990.
Posted from Littleton, Colorado on January 31st, 2017.