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Night walk honours Cape Town’s slaves

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The annual “Walk in the Night” will once again take place through the CBD this evening. It marks Emancipation Day on 1 December 1834, when enslaved people of the Cape were legally freed.
The District Six museum will be honouring the former slave, Lydia Williams and world renowned South African artist, Lionel Davis who was legally freed on December 1, 1834 with the Emancipation Day “Walk in the Night.”  Bonita Bennett, the director of the District Six Museum explained the importance of the walk for Cape Town’s history.

“We cannot image what that freedom felt like. People waited until midnight, as 1 minute past midnight on the 1st December 1834, when slaves were legally freed. There must have been a lot of celebrations, bond fires around Table Mountains, dancing in the streets having a feast. We are trying to recreate this feeling, she said.

Bennet said it’s about telling history in a different way.

“It’s not just about reading it but also about enacting it. We invite Capetonian to be part of it, be it walking along the route, share a few words or dancing along the way.”

“The aim is to be together at 1 minute past midnight starting our walk at the Zonnebloem Estate, which was part of the slave holding estate at that era. On the estate where the school is, we are starting with a fire, traditional music such as the Malay bands, then moving through District Six and ending at the Lydia Williams Centre of Memory in Chapel Street with a night picnic,” says Bennett.

This route is very significant as they will be honouring the life of ex-Cape slave Lydia Williams, who was affectionately known as “Ou Tamelytjie”. She was the founder of the St Phillips Church.

“The walk is open to all young and old. We are inviting all ex-slaves and friends to her cottage to celebrate their freedom from slavery. So invite your friends and families to join us for the night picnic,” Bennett concluded. VOC

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