When the series began on September 3, 1999, it had been preceded by eight trial articles which were published between May and July on subjects such as historic Cape Town buildings and votes for white women.
The final two, which were about District Six and Cape Town’s first black location at Uitvlugt (now Ndabeni), must have struck a chord, because I was asked to provide more articles in similar vein. No one expected the column to continue without a break (except for editorial mishaps) for the next 1 000-plus weeks.
The newspaper was larger and the columns were longer in those days - 800 words and a suitable picture, as opposed to 470 words and a snapshot today. Writing about the past while living through 20 tumultuous years of democracy has reinforced my belief that history isn’t just a topic for documentaries, text books and exams - we’re living through it all the time.
A glance at some of the inside pages of the Cape Argus for 1999 awakens emotions which range from nostalgia to disbelief. Kim Louis was starring in David Kramer’s new musical Kat & the Kings. You could hire a small TV set from Teljoy for R49 per month.