The Castle of Good Hope will mark its 350th year commemoration next year, a significant milestone in its rich history. On the 2nd of January 1666, the first foundation stone of the Castle of Good Hope was laid at the foot of the Leerdam Bastion and 2016 will mark 350 years since the stone was laid. Under the guidance of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Castle’s board are presenting a programme that will change the image of the Castle as the most conspicuous symbol of colonial rule into one of inclusion, healing, hope and nation-building.
Moeshfiqa Botha, who heads up culture, heritage and education at the Castle of Good Hope says that they are looking at the castle from a different perspective.
“The castle is known as a symbol of colonialism which is true, but we also keep on telling the sanitized version of the castle history; we keep on telling people about the physical space, but we fail to tell the uncomfortable truths we fail to tell the painful stories of aggression oppression and slavery,” Botha explained.
“It is the hope that with the 350 year commemoration that we will use the castle as a space for painful dialogue we want to make this a place of nation building and reconciliation.”
The castle has partnered with the Cape Town Minstrels who will also be hosting their annual Tweede Nuwe Jaar event on the same day as the castle commemoration.
Kevin Momberg, CEO of the Cape Cultural Events and Carnival Committee and CEO of the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association says that there is a direct link between the atrocities of slavery at the Castle and the social ills that ravage communities to this day.
“The 2nd of New Year (Tweede Nuwe Jaar) is very significant to us, as it was the day on which masters gave their slaves off to celebrate the new year. Slaves were seen as lesser beings not worthy of celebrating the New Year with their masters,” Momberg explained.
“Our Tweede Nuwe Jaar road march in no way celebrates the act of enslavement – but rather tells the victorious tale of how far we have come as a community.”
The Cape Minstrels on Wednesday will embark on a preview in the city centre to showcase what the public may expect out of the tweede nuwe jaar celebrations.
While the troops will not be marching in their full costumes, Momberg says they will be wearing their tracksuits.
“We call it a ‘voorsmaakie’ and it is the trial run for the second of January.”
On working with the City of Cape Town to host this even Momberg says that there are some issues, but it will be sorted out so that the parade may go ahead.
“There are a few outstanding issues with the city, but nothing major and as I stated previously the marches will go forth because a lot of people’s livelihoods are at stake to we are working to resolve these issues,” Momberg concluded. VOC