Cape Town - To honour the collective memory of those who were displaced from the diverse communities of Claremont and Newlands, the Claremont Main Road Mosque (CMRM), in collaboration with St Saviour's Anglican Church, conducted a “Walk of Remembrance” through the streets of Claremont and Newlands to honour these memories.
The walk was to pay tribute to those who helped shape the green, desirable community at the foot of the mountain along the streams of Newlands, as the first congregants of Claremont Main Road Mosque and St Saviour’s Anglican Church came from Claremont and Newlands’ thriving, long-established, and diverse communities.
St Saviour’s Anglican Church Reverend Chesnay Frantz said that the walk is not only conducted to celebrate the rich heritage of the area but to also remember the history of pain and loss of local communities of colour who were forcibly removed from this area.
“The first congregants of Claremont Main Road Mosque and St Saviour’s Anglican Church came from the surrounding vibrant, well-established, diverse community of Claremont and Newlands. These former residents did not just live here, but were an integral part of the development of this green, desirable place at the foot of the Mountain. Their children grew up playing in the streams of Newlands long before many of the present residents were born.”
“This was also a place of fruitful gardens where families made lives for themselves aided by easy transport access to employment. Our congregants, their families, neighbours, friends, people of all faiths, were brutally ejected from these neighbourhoods in the forced removals of the 1960s. Our families were traumatised by this process and continue to yearn for justice. Scattered all over the Cape Flats, they and their descendants, watched as their homes and heritage, were profitably bought up and ’gentrified’ in this lucrative property market,” said Frantz.
The 1.7km walk commenced at the St Saviour’s Anglican Church and ended at the Newlands Kildare Springs.
The Newlands Kildare Springs played a significant role in the history of the community as the diverse residents came together from all over the city, to collect water at the spring to save their monthly water bills during the water scarcity crisis in 2018.
Among those who took part in the walk was Riyaz Rawoot, physiotherapist and self-proclaimed “Water Master of the Spring”, who built the makeshift PVC pipe with 26 holes at the spring, allowing up to a dozen individuals to gather water simultaneously.
“Given all that we’ve gone through, I think it is important to celebrate our heritage because the only way you are going to know where you are going is by learning where you’ve been. When I look at the history of my family in this place, I see who I am because of who they were and what they had taught me. So, to keep that alive I think it is very important.”
“The physical structures are just an extension of the culture around the spring way, as it was a place where there was a mixed understanding friendship which was destroyed by the council which I think should be reinstated amongst all the other reclamations initiatives that have been made,” said Rawoot.