Heritage Month: Interactive map to serve as a ‘healing oasis’
IN CELEBRATION of coloured and black culture this Heritage Month, an interactive map can now help you find short stories, poems, voice notes and videos of people sharing their experiences.
The creators of the map said the first call for stories titled “Resistance and Existence” offers “valuable dialogue and interaction in a refreshing format, the likes of which have not been seen in South Africa”.
Web creators Sarah Summers and Kelly-Eve Koopman said they were inspired by the initial response to their site Coloured Mentality, to create Until We Remember.
Summers and Koopman said their vision is that people would come to see the site as a kind of “healing oasis”.
Summers stated: “The politics of online verbal warfare is tearing us apart during a political moment when we need to stand together.
“We see radical self-care as the essential – often overlooked – component to meaningful transformation in South Africa. This page is not only open to coloured people, but black people as well. The work is for us all.”
Among the many stories on the website, is the story of Auntie Jessie who, along with her family, were forcibly removed from their home in Bree Street in the CBD because the area was classified as a white area – she was 15 years old when her family were moved to Lansdowne.
“We were happy in our area with our neighbours, our house was number 194 and it is now a hotel. We simply had to move from the now white area and find ourselves a home in a coloured area,” she said.
Another story tells of a group of young men from Site B in Khayelitsha, who are trying to be “a difference” in their community. They started a group called “Push” and strive to make their dreams come true.
“We steer clear from bad elements and gangsterism in the area. We saw during lockdown that many people lost their jobs and we took the decision to create this group and platform for the youth in our community,” said Mzolisi Javu.
The youngsters wash sneakers for as little as R30, sell muffins for R5, wash cars as well as sofas.
Raised in a predominantly coloured area by a coloured mother and an Indian father, Andre Saldanha always harboured questions about identity and racism in his community and country.
Saldanha said his reflective piece about racism was initially for a blog post but when he heard about “Until We Remember”, the piece was an instant fit.
He grew up in Elfindale and in his poem describes a world where he was not always certain of where he fitted in.
“While I comfortably tick ‘coloured’ on government forms and as the answer to the almost mandatory inquiries of any new acquaintance, I fit in on the Cape Flats much like a polar bear in the Sahara Desert, constantly scorched by the flippant, callous racism of so many of my otherwise lovely coloured aunties and uncles.”
And Inga Madlongwana, who is struggling to make her dreams come true, has chosen to remain positive and happy with what she has.
Inga has a short film showing her journey.
“My mother left me when I was only two weeks old to be raised by my great-grandmother. Growing up I loved the spotlight,” she said.
Site editor, Myles Heneke, said: “I believe the contributions on this site can serve as a very enlightening meditation on our identity so that we aren’t jolted when confronted by questions of ‘does coloured culture exist?’.
“Hopefully, people will come to see this culture more as the ever-changing composition of how we express it and our shared experiences, rather than tiredly pointing to koesisters and The Klopse.
“Coloured culture is not big foot, we know it exists and our is site a beautiful sanctuary where it can be expressed, expounded and challenged.”
Visit the website on www.untilweremember.co.za and follow Coloured Mentality on Facebook (@colouredmentality) as well as Instagram (@colouredmentality) to find out more information.