Salt River is a suburb of Cape Town located near Table Bay to the east of Cape Town's CBD. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency
Salt River is a suburb of Cape Town located near Table Bay to the east of Cape Town's CBD. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency

Call for locals to help document Salt River’s rich history

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jul 20, 2021

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Cape Town - The Salt River Heritage Society (SRHS) has called on former and current residents to assist in documenting the rich history and traditions of the Salt River community that will be memorialised in a book.

“The Salt River Coffee Table Book” aims to reflect the spirit of the community through submissions by its former and current inhabitants.

SRHS founder and vice-chairman Shabodien Roomanay said the book aims to create a sense of pride, serving as a permanent record of photographs, stories and artefacts.

“It was important to start a campaign where the community itself starts to record its own history and not perhaps only have a version by people who are perhaps interested in the area for their studies they’re busy with or wanting to write a book about the area.

“It's beneficial, we have no problems with that, but it is useful for people who have emerged from the area, who carry the oral and physical traditions of the area to perhaps consider plotting their own future,” said Roomanay.

The effort to preserve these traditions and historical information will assist in restoring the dignity of people and traditions and cultures, said Roomanay.

“What we’re hoping the stories will achieve is to ignite interest particularly in younger people to come on board and understand how important it is that the traditions, cultures and histories of a people need to be recorded.

“When colonial powers raided countries or continents, the first thing they did was to erase the memories and histories of people and to convert them to lookalikes, depending on the colonial masters who ruled those areas over years.

“So really igniting an interest in the preservation of histories and heritage of a people helps much to restore the dignity and respect people should have for communities.”

SRHS chairperson Dr Yusuf Lalkhen said while a team for collecting historical stories of the area exists, these social and historical events had to be complemented with community voices. Lalkhen said stories in the sphere of schooling, sport, religion, politics, etc were welcomed.

“The purpose of the book, in a nutshell, is to preserve memories and capture community voices. It will reflect the history of the area going back as far as 1510 right up to 2020. To reflect the changes over these years, the values that hold a culturally diverse community together and growing, and hopefully as a map for the future,” said Lalkhen.

The project commenced in 2018, with already a significant amount of information, artefacts, and photographs accumulated.

“Much is still needed to do justice to this project. We believe that current and former residents have untold stories and photographic and documentary treasures that will add great value to the book. Depending on the response of the community and the funding available, we can complete the project in the next two years.”

Submissions can be made via email to [email protected] by Heritage Day, September 24.

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