Museum offering decolonised history on Cape heritage launched at Castle of Good Hope
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Cape Town - A new museum has opened its doors at the Castle of Good Hope and is hoping to take South Africans on a journey through a decolonised history of Cape identities.
The long-awaited launch of the Camissa Museum and Centre for Restorative Memory followed “decades of conceptualisation and three years of planning”.
The first phase is the launch of the Camissa Museum Online, a video of the making of the museum and a mini exhibition as the place holder for the physical museum that will be established in stages over the next year at the Castle.
Speaking at the launch, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said: “Back in December 2016, we made a pledge to transform the image of the castle from a place of armed colonial conquest, apartheid oppression and banishment, into a centre of memory healing and learning. In other words, a space for reflection, reconciliation and nation building.
“This was against the background of a defence council decision to commemorate the 350th year of the Castle of Good Hope that year. This marked a turning point in this facility’s history.”
The idea for the museum was sparked by late veteran liberation movement leader Reggie September, whose widow Melissa Steyn was one of the invited guests at the launch.
Castle Control Board chief executive Calvyn Gilfellan said: “This monumental heritage intervention is central to, and a continuation of, the Castle Control board and the government’s drive to transform the image of this erstwhile symbol of armed colonial-apartheid conquest into a space of reflection, healing and, eventually, reconciliation.
“The making, unmaking, and remaking of history is a calling all citizens should embrace – hence this significant project.”
Curator Angus Leendertz said: “The Camissa museum tells the stories of the people of the Cape and South Africa. It reveals the rich and complex history of Camissa Africans, particularly those classified as ‘Coloured’, who have been portrayed by others for centuries, but never by themselves. This history and these stories, that have been buried and hidden for centuries, are now fully told for the first time.”
Project member, historian and researcher, and author of the book The Lie of 1652, Patric Tariq Mallet said: “Bringing these stories of the Cape and its people to life, will bring healing, affirmation, and restoration of human dignity, after centuries of suffering colonialism, slavery, forced removals, restrictions on freedom of movement and imposition of the first pass laws, 19 wars of dispossession, ethnocide, genocide, de-Africanisation and apartheid.”
Patron-in-chief, ambassador Ruby Marks used the occasion to launch her book on identities, Tell Us Our Story Grandma.
Marks said: “The Camissa Museum is a critique of the continued use of the term ‘Coloured’ and supports moving away from this relic of colonial and apartheid social engineering, in favour of the embracing of our African identities, be they San, Khoekhoe, Korana, Nama, Griqua and Camissa African.”
People interested in what the museum has to offer can access it online at https://youtu.be/8pjE9GZ04gA