The hearT of Cape Town in



The hearT of Cape Town in
Molo | Hello | Goeiedag
What’s your
most treasured
We asked, you answered.
Map: Sea Point
in colour
Discover the delights of
Main Road.
How then do
we make a city ...? You
start with your own
two hands.
Photo: Lisa Burnell
Njabulo Ndebele
The heart of Cape Town in
What’s your
Cape Town object?
The secret lives
of everyday artefacts
Lost and found
In search of the city’s
missing icons and found
PAGE 10 & 11
Molo is a free community paper,
focused on the people of
Cape Town, and published by
the Cape Town Partnership.
Created by: Alma Viviers, Ambre Nicolson,
Judith Browne, Lesley Hay-Whitton, Lisa
Burnell, Sam Bainbridge
Designed by: Infestation
T: 021 461 8601
Published by:
Cape Town Partnership
34 Bree Street
T: 021 419 1881
How can I be a part of Molo?
We are always on the look-out for
compelling stories told by ordinary
residents of Cape Town. If you or
someone you know has an interesting
story to tell, mail us at
[email protected]
(no press releases, please). Every
month, we’ll be continuing the
conversations we start in the print
edition of Molo online: Join us at for
more stories, more profiles and more
citizen perspectives on this place we
call home.
Where can I get the most recent
edition of Molo?
Molo is a bimonthly print publication,
available in the January, March, May,
July, September and November of
every year (starting in September
2013). In the months it is not on street,
it is supplemented by stories online.
If you or your organisation would
like to receive or distribute the print
publication, please mail us at
[email protected],
including your postal address and the
number of copies you’d like to receive.
Contact the creators of Molo:
@CTPartnership #Molo
diverse as the people
who live in them
Photo: Lisa Burnell
When I first heard about the theme for this next edition of Molo – the many
stories of Cape Town, told through just 50 objects – I began thinking about the
everyday items in our lives and the stories they could tell about us, if someone
thought to listen. The objects we collect, or preserve, or protect. Those we’d
rather lose, or the ones we search for every day.
ou see, I’m a collector
of sorts. I collect dolls.
And not just any dolls,
but ones from my travels
that, for me, typify the places I’ve
been. I’m very choosy about these
dolls. They’re often handmade
by ordinary people, in materials
typical to that part of the world
– like one from Bermuda made
out of banana leaves, or a flying
angel from the Philippines made
out of small strips of string. Or
the Himba doll from Namibia,
rubbed red with ochre.
I find them so interesting
because they also say something
about the way the people who
made them see themselves and the
way they want to be seen. Some
are standing. Some are working.
When you see them in my house,
it’s like a United Nations – an
extraordinary diversity of human
culture. Seeing that variety of
human experience makes me
humble. It reminds me of the folly
of the imperial project, to think
you can impose a single vision of
life on peoples around the world.
We all make up a human tapestry,
and for me, these many different
dolls made by many different
hands affirm that there is no
single human reality.
There is a kind of comfort in
knowing my collection can never
be complete.
I was asked recently if there
was one doll that represented
the people or the city of Cape
Town. There isn’t yet, at least
not in my collection. Which begs
an interesting question. I’d be
interested to know if the readers
of Molo have a doll they think
could represent Cape Town. If
you had to make one, what would
it look like, and what would it be
made of? How would you want
to be seen?
In imagining the many dolls
that might make up the United
Nations of Cape Town, I find
myself wondering about the life
we make for ourselves every
single day. And how those
individual days make up a day
in the life of the city. And with
people, so it is with cities: many
days make many years, and many
years soon make up a life.
How then do we make a city,
or make the life of a city? It’s not
dissimilar to making a doll, or a
tapestry, or a meal. You start with
your own two hands.
You begin where you are, with
what you’ve got.
For me, that’s how you make
a life. That’s how you make the
The question is: What do we
want it to look like? How do we
want to be seen?
Njabulo Ndebele
Professor Njabulo Ndebele
is a respected South African
writer and academic and the
chairperson of the Cape Town
Partnership board
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 021 419 1881
Cape Town Partnership vision
Some say cities are the future
We say people are the future
This is our home
This is our hope
This is our chance
there is more that connects us than
divides us
the language of hope
together for the common good
from the ground up
the spaces in between
We can plant our tomorrows
shape our future, heal ourselves
We can make our city
warm, open, welcoming,
rich in opportunities for all
Cape Town
A city with a past. A people with a future
Photo: Lisa Burnell
Molo, Cape Town Partnership, 10th Floor,
34 Bree Street, The Terraces, 8001
can a PAINTING Say
Text: Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana
This idea that objects have
lives, and tell you stories, was
interesting not just in terms of
pulling together this edition of
Molo, but also in the context
of how we think about our
own organisation: What one
object best represents the
Cape Town Partnership (the
organisation that produces
and publishes Molo), its
history and its journey?
Shoes were suggested (given
how important “walking the
talk” is to staff as well as the
importance of an effective
public mobility system for the
Table Bay district – the space
our mandate covers) as was
the veggie garden growing out
on our balcony.
While these items ground us
on the street and in the earth,
they didn’t seem to speak
enough about our past, and
how we’ve changed as an
organisation, shifting our focus
through the years on what will
make Cape Town a vibrant
and liveable African city.
Instead, we chose the largeformat Jackson Nkumanda
artwork, commissioned by
the organisation in 2005 and
displayed in our reception
area at 34 Bree Street.
Why? It reflects projects
we’ve been involved in
– from ensuring that the
basic systems of urban
management are in place
(establishing and working
closely with the Central City
Improvement District) and
facilitating development
and investment in the CBD,
to looking at the activation
of public space and the
interconnection of transport
corridors. It considers the
city’s diversity of users: You
can see CCID trash trucks,
informal traders on the
station deck, children playing
in the Company’s Garden.
Trains, taxis and tourist buses.
The Castle, the CTICC, the
Signal Hill kramat and the
quaggas on Devil’s Peak. It
sets the scene for a vivacious
city that has, at its core,
people as the focus.
Anchoring it all is a sign,
“Cape Town: a place for all”
because it is only once we
consider the needs of all the
people of Cape Town that
we can call ourselves a truly
liveable African city.
Coded into the artwork
itself is a language we hope
permeates through all our
work: Jackson’s 3D artwork
is handmade out of found
objects – crushed sand,
brick, rubber, stones, tin and
cardboard – suggesting a
local aesthetic, but also a
much more sustainable way
of doing things: using what
you’ve got. This artwork
has greeted many visitors
that have walked through
our doors in the last eight
years. If it could talk, it would
probably tell a story of the
people and conversations it
has seen and heard.
in SHorT
HedLeY TWidLe
ews are to history,” Philip
Roth once wrote, “what
Eskimos are to snow.” I
have often thought that
the remark could just as well
apply to South Africans. Ours is
a country of epic struggles over
land, of major political fault lines,
oppression and struggle. It comes
to us in iconic images, familiar
shapes and famous moments.
And the weight of this kind of
history is so strong that many
of the students at the university
where I teach have a real
reluctance to hear about it again.
“Yes, yes, we know all about
that,” they say as soon as the word
“apartheid” is mentioned. They
tell me that it has been done to
death in school, that we should
change the conversation, that our
traumatic past is, well … past.
It is at this point of history fatigue, I think, that the lives of
objects can be so important, and
so intriguing. Tracing the biogra-
phies of ordinary things rather
than great men may allow us to
tell the past differently – with a
sense of texture and imaginative purchase. “No ideas but in
things,” wrote the poet William
Carlos Williams. Stories, like
objects, have contours and patterns. And certain objects might
allow us to tell stories that are
shaped more irregularly, that are
more interestingly patterned,
than the vast, overarching narratives that we are often saddled
with: whether of truth and reconciliation or of economic growth
and development. Grand sociohistorical sagas like these generally require some kind of steady
progress and end point; but objects resist that kind of “closure”
– as a psychologist might say.
They just keep on being things, in
all their thingness. They are stubborn like that – skittish, uncontrollable and unpredictable in the
way they navigate through time.
The makers of this edition have
adopted a suitably creative and
fluid idea of what an object might
be. There are edible things that
don’t hang around for long – the
samoosa; our Cape variation on
the koeksister; the extraordinary
foodstuff that is the Gatsby.
There are noisy things, like the
Noon Gun or the minibus taxis,
startling to the newcomer but
soon working their way into
the texture of daily life. Then
there are more abstract things:
the messaging service Mxit; the
Cape Dutch gable that migrates
from building to building, trying
to project a façade of rural
calm, but also carrying with it
objects resist that
kind of ‘closure’
... They just keep on
being things, in all
their thingness.
a dissonant counter-history of
slavery – it was, after all, artisans
from south Asia who brought
with them the skills to invent
Then there are the lost and
vanished things: objects that
still exist in the mind and haunt
the memory, even when they
are physically extinct. The heart
of Denise Darvall, which lived
for only a short while when
transplanted into another body
by Dr Chris Barnard. On the
slopes just above that hospital,
zoologists once tried to breed
the quagga antelope back into
existence. And, from still a
bit higher up on Devil’s Peak,
thousands of people watched
the Athlone cooling towers come
down: two massive landmarks
that vanished in a second, so
quick that half of us missed
it. And, finally, the vanished
Khoi words that still linger in
the geography of our city, the
linguistic artefacts left in the cavesite of our mouths, as the poet
Jeremy Cronin once imagined it,
by thousands upon thousands
of years of the human presence:
Hoerikwaggo, Camissa.
Hedley Twidle is a writer, teacher
and academic based at the
university of Cape Town.
at the moment he is teaching
and thinking about life-writing,
essays and literary non-fiction in
africa. More of his work can be
found at www.seapointcontact.
dooby Scoo, 20 regent rd
store has been owned by alan
watson for 17 years. i work here
part time and it’s a fun place to
work because coming in here
makes people happy. i love living
in Sea point; after 25 years living
in the northern suburbs i love
that i can walk everywhere and
enjoy my view of the sea.”
Sea Point is one of Cape
Town’s most cosmopolitan
neighbourhoods. It’s the kind
of place where on any given
day you can hear accents
from Umtata, Berlin or
Kinshasa, taste the flavours
of bagels, curry or dim sum
and see locals, immigrants
and tourists all enjoying the
delights of Main Road.
denise’s delights, 12 regent rd
MAISY MZONKE: “Denise’s has
been here for 23 years. people
come here for our cakes and for
our cupcakes especially. over the
years we have had some strange
requests for cakes, some of them
are very rude … i’ll leave them to
your imagination but let’s just say
they were anatomical!”
4 booK, r50
caFda, 18 regent rd
Texies, 196 Main rd
shop has been here for 19 years,
i have worked here for 10. Yes,
you see some crazy things here.
Just the other day i saw rod
Stewart, ja, you don’t believe
me but i swear rod Stewart is
living in Sea point these days.
he’s a nice guy.”
r’s rd
hns r
st Jo
been going since 1945 and this
store has been here for at least
20 years. in this shop we have
a special group of regulars,
especially some of the older
people in the area, they come
here every day and many of
them say they don’t know what
they would do without us.”
Compiled by ambre Nicolson
5 GranadiLLa HoT
MiLK SPonGe, r85
7 cHiPS WiTH
vineGar and SaLT
FroM TeXieS, r17.50
PAUL: “for 20
years we have
sold all sorts of
items related to Jewish life, not just
religious stuff but also just cultural
items and artefacts. and we don’t
just sell to Jewish people, we have
lots of gentile folk who come in here.
i would say the thing we sell the
most of is our tallits, the fabric shawl
that Jewish men wear to Shul.”
Church rd
Judaica gift
72 regent rd
Clarens rd
1 car
2 PeTUniaS, r24
Sea Point nursery,
56 regent rd
all sorts of people at this
nursery, locals, foreigners,
and we have regulars
who always come back.
i like Sea point because
it feels like a community,
although i don’t live here
myself. The one thing
i could do without is
people asking for artificial
flowers – you won’t find
any of them here.”
6 dreSS, r150
informal trader,
near abSa bank
building on Main rd
dress comes from
india but i come
from Cameroon. i
was trained as an
accountant but i
couldn’t get my qualifications validated here in
South africa so now i work here as an informal
trader. i came here for a better life but it’s hard
here because there is so much gangersterism
– just yesterday i had all my documents stolen,
now i might have to travel back to my country.”
8 cHineSe
LanTern, r50
Wellsave r5 shop,
182 Main rd
lantern is lucky because
it’s red, a lucky colour for
Chinese. it also represents
peace. i have lived here in
Sea point for quite a
couple of years although
originally i come from
fujian in China.”
Compiled by: judith browne,
ambre Nicolson & alma Viviers
Photos by: lisa burnell
Love it or hate it, Brett Murray’s
“africa” remains a talking point
15 years since its installation on
St George’s Mall. Brett won the
commission put out by public
competition in 1998 but it
nearly did not happen because
of objections by the city
council. Today he reflects on
the iconic piece: “i am delighted
that the work now seems to
have been accepted favourably,
and has been embraced by
locals and travellers alike. every
time i walk past the sculpture
there are tourists taking pics,
climbing all over his work. i love
this. it remains quite a playful
and irreverent sculpture with
a serious undertone, which
questions the relationship
between western and african
cultural paradigms.”
n Find “africa” at the
intersection of St George’s
Mall and the Fan Walk
“You know it’s a tradition in
our culture – Sundays mean
koesisters. i learnt how to make
koesisters from my mom, the
traditional kind with five spices
and naartjie peel in them. She
used to make them daily to sell
and as she got older i took over
from her. That was more than
10 years ago. now it’s me who
makes them every Sunday and
i think i will always be doing it.
people wouldn’t let me stop now;
the regulars arrive at all hours
looking for their koesisters.
even if i say there are none
left they say, ‘But please,
Soraya, don’t you have just
two?’ But i don’t mind. i
grew up in District Six, and
now that i live in woodstock
it feels a bit like you are part
of it again, you know? i start
on fridays already, and i
make 3–4kg each Sunday, so
at least 800 koesisters. now
my daughter helps me too; in
fact it is a whole family affair,
we mix the dough and fry it in
batches together.”
- Soraya essop
“if you take a pinch of Khoisan
lament, a dash of Malay spice,
a bold measure of european
orchestral, a splash of Xhosa
spiritual, a clash of marching
bands, a riff of rock, the
pizzazz of the Klopse, some
driving primal beat, and a lot of
humour and musical virtuosity,
what do you get? Goema
Goema Goema!” This is how
the documentary film Mama
Goema: The Cape Town Beat in
Five Movements describes the
sound of Cape Town. although
goema is as much an attitude
as it is a genre, at its heart
lies the beat of the hand-held
goema drum, which originated
in Khoisan culture and today
is often associated with the
Kaapse Klopse.
Photo: iZiKo museums of south afriCa soCiaL
history, soCiaL history CoLLeCtions
n Find Soraya essop’s famous
koesisters at 10 Walmer Street in
Woodstock on Sundays between
07 AJAx
WHO: ajax Cape Town, the
“Urban warriors”
WHAT: Cape Town’s best-known
football club
WHEN: formed in 1998 when
two local clubs, Seven Stars and
the Cape Town Spurs, merged,
under the parent club of ajax
WHERE: watch them at the
Cape Town Stadium
DID YOU KNOW? The ajax
player who scored the highest
number of goals in a single
season is Mabhuti Khenyeza
who scored 23 goals in
n Learn more about
upcoming match fixtures
Buchu is found only in the Cape
floral Kingdom, the smallest,
and richest of the world’s six
floral kingdoms. (The second
most diverse, the rainforests
of the amazon, has 400
unique species per 10 000km2,
contrasted with 1 300 species
per 10 000km2 of Cape fynbos.)
Buchu has been used since
ancient times: the San prized it
as a medicine, deodorant and
insect repellent, while these
days it is most often drunk as
a tea. however you consume
it, its health properties include
anti-inflammatory, antiseptic,
anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
benefits. happily, with a flavour
reminiscent of blackcurrants
and mint, it also tastes good.
The Sudan has its haboob,
northern California its Diablo
and in Cape Town we have the
Cape Doctor. The southeaster,
which arrives in early spring
and often stays for summer,
has long had the reputation of
purifying the air of the city and
blowing away “pestilence”.
while it can be a hazard for
unprepared pedestrians, it also
fulfils an important ecological
role, aerating the water of
lagoons and river mouths and
ensuring the condensation
that feeds the fynbos on our
mountain slopes.
Golden Sonwabo is a soft-spoken man with a shy smile beneath his
moustache. he arrived in Cape Town in the early 1990s, where, despite
his best efforts, he could not find work. it was only after he had had the
same dream – of finding flowers at a rubbish dump – three times that
he acted on what he believes was a message from God. Using tin cans,
Golden started to create flowers from this waste material. first daisies,
then roses and later lilies too. Today Golden has a thriving workshop
in Khayelitsha where his children help him in painting the flowers.
people come from all over the world to see an example of how an
environmental problem can be turned into art, through ingenuity.
So just how did Cape Town’s
signature fast food, the Gatsby,
get its name? according to
rashaad pandy, owner of
Super fisheries fish shop and
self-professed inventor of the
foot-long chips-and-everythingelse sandwich: “i came up with
it when i didn’t have anything
else to give some workers who
were helping me clear a piece
of property. Using what i had, i
combined a portuguese loaf with
chips, polony and atchar. when
froggie, one of the workers,
tasted it, the first thing he said
was, ‘hey, larney, that’s a Gatsby
smash!’ at the time the film was
showing across the street.”
n Find Super fisheries at 63
old Klipfontein road, athlone.
09 mxIT
for just a couple of nights
around august each year, Cape
Town’s most famous amphibian,
the western Leopard Toad,
goes looking for love. at this
time, thousands of toads,
palm-sized and beautifully
marked, converge on breeding
ponds, where (according to “the
males snore and fight for the
females. The females lay their
eggs and depart, migrating
back to their gardens. The
exhausted males follow later
when no more females arrive
at the pools.” none of which
would be a problem if it weren’t
for the fact that the toads have
to cross roads and highways to
get there. To avoid the carnage
that would otherwise ensue,
Capetonians have formed
themselves into volunteer toad
groups, which man the roads,
control traffic and rescue toads.
*Mxit was in fact created in
Stellenbosch, but as africa’s
largest free online chat platform,
with almost 50 million users, we
figured it deserved a mention.
The total number of
messages sent each
day using Mxit (written
on Post-it notes, they
would stretch around
the earth).
For just a couple
of nights around
august each year,
Cape Town’s most
famous amphibian,
the western leopard
Toad, goes looking
for love.
Launched in Cape Town in December 2010 and designed by eugene
Brockman and henry Bantjes, the gay flag of South africa is a
symbol of freedom, diversity and pride. Skye Grove, a member of
the local LGBTi community, explains; “here, as in the rest of South
africa, people who identify as ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ still face extraordinary
challenges: corrective rape and other forms of gender-based violence
are very real. even within the LGBTi community, there are still divides
to be bridged. what the flag does is hopefully point to a time when
the diversity of people who make up this place, whoever they are and
whatever life they choose, feel welcomed and recognised and safe, to
be who they are, without fear.”
n discover more about the
volunteer group in your area by
calling the Western Leopard
Toad hotline on 082 516 3602
and visit
to find out what to do if you come
across one of these endangered
toads in your home or garden.
when the cableway was built
in 1929, 200 people attended
the opening event. By 2011
the cable cars had conveyed
more than 21 million visitors
to the top of Table Mountain,
a figure that has increased
dramatically since Table
Mountain was recognised as
one of the new 7 wonders of
nature in 2012.
n Take advantage of the
Sunset Special when all return
tickets are half price from
18h00. The special runs from
1 november to 20 december
2013, and from 6 January until
28 February 2014.
Zakhile athumani spends two days making the small paint and
tin bas-relief of shacks, in the style of Jackson nkumanda, with a
painted silhouette of Table Mountain in the background. he sells
it on Greenmarket Square for r600, mostly to foreigners, “people
from Germany, Switzerland, america, everywhere”. Zakhile came to
Cape Town eight years ago from Tanzania to “make a life” and, when
i ask him if he thinks the painting shows Cape Town as it really is, he
cheerfully assures me, “Yes, here is the mountain, here is the sea, here
are the people. See, Cape Town.”
Bashew’s, Cape Town’s beloved
cool drink brand, was started
in 1889 by two brothers who
delivered their drinks by horse
cart. while their early success
was with their ginger beer flavour,
Bashew’s was soon producing
seven cool drink flavours.
factory manager abdul omar
remembers the ginger beer from
his own childhood, and wants
to help preserve the memories
of Bashew’s in Cape Town.
“everybody’s got a story about
Bashew’s, and a favourite memory.
whether it’s a happy occasion or
a sad one, Bashew’s was always
there. we’re inviting people to
write to us at [email protected] with their stories.”
everybody’s got a
story about bashew’s,
and a favourite
memory. whether it’s
a happy occasion or a
sad one, bashew’s was
always there.
abdul oMaR
Photo: suPPLied
in 1785, the owner of a townhouse on heritage Square in
Cape Town noted in his journal
that he had drunk wine “under
the grape tree”. This Crouchen
Blanc vine, thought to have been
planted in 1771, still exists today,
making it the oldest grapevine in
the southern hemisphere. Thanks
to the attentions of winemakers
Jean Vincent ridon and Kyle
anthony Zulch, the vine is also
still producing enough grapes for
about 20 litres of wine per year.
“Today the vine produces the
grapes for our special 1771 heritage wine,” confirms Jean Vincent, owner of urban boutique
winery Signal hill wines.
n visit Signal Hill Wines at 100
Shortmarket Street for wine
tastings and sales.
one of Cape
Town’s postal
stones with the
following dutch
inscription: “Paul
Steur Sommer / P.S
ueIS dIC / N 1614
deN 20 NoV”
iZiKo museums of south afriCa, Carina Beyer
it’s human nature to want to “make your mark” on the world, to let
others know that you were here and that your life meant something.
engraved bones found at Blombos or present-day graffiti; we’re all
trying to etch out a living. So too with postal stones, found where the
Golden acre stands today, and used as early as 1527 (some 26 years
after the first letter was “posted” in South africa – slipped inside a
shoe and hung in a milkwood tree near Mossel Bay). These stones
were engraved with the names of ships, officers or dates, and some
were used to weigh down letters until another ship came to shore.
They can be found in the iziko Social history Collections (at the Slave
Sources: and
Recorded in the winter of 1974
by the artist then known as
Dollar Brand, now Abdullah
Ibrahim, together with Basil
Coetzee, Robbie Jansen, Monty
Weber and Morris Goldberg,
“Mannenberg” helped define
a new Cape Town sound and
became the city’s unofficial
anti-apartheid anthem –almost
10 years after the destruction of
District Six and forced removals
to “new suburbs”, of which
Mannenburg was one. The
original song title, “Mrs Williams
from Manenberg,” was inspired
by Abdullah Ibrahim’s vision,
which he had while playing
the song, of an elderly woman
walking down the street of one
of South Africa’s townships, and
Morris Goldberg’s visit to his
family’s former housekeeper,
Gladys Williams in Manenberg.
While the title might’ve been
shortened later, Gladys is
still present: she features on
the original album cover, in a
photograph taken by Abdullah
Ibrahim himself.
Seen here is an Ubuntu Bike decked
out in artwork by Atang Tshikane
Rising fuel costs, more environmentally conscious commuters and
the implementation of integrated transport plan of Cape Town,
which includes cycle lanes that make it easier and safer for bike
commuters to get from A to B, has given rise to an increasing cycle
commuting culture in Cape Town. Capitalising on this trend for the
good of a greater community is Ubuntu Bikes, a social enterprise
that sell second-hand bikes customised by local artists and homegrown bike accessories.
Source: The Making of Mannenberg
by John Edwin Mason, published
by Chimurenga magazine in 2008.
It was driven by
an infectious danceable beat. And it
was an intriguingly
unfamiliar combination of familiar ingredients – the groove
was marabi, the beat
resembled tickeydraai (or perhaps
a lazy ghoema, depending on who was
listening), the sound
of the saxophones
was langarm, and the
underlying aesthetic
was jazz.
John Edwin Mason
24 Wild almond hedge
In 1660 Jan van Riebeeck had a hedge planted as a defensive
barrier along the eastern boundary of the newly established
Dutch settlement at the Cape, which lay in the path of traditional
Khoikhoi grazing routes and resulted in conflicts. The hedge of
indigenous wild almond trees and thorny shrubs was planted
along the section between the Liesbeek River and Kirstenbosch.
Remnants of the hedge can still be found in Kirstenbosch
National Botanical Garden.
Minibus Taxi
While minibus taxis are a common sight
throughout South Africa, the ones you find in
Cape Town have a unique feature, namely
guardtjies. With cries of “Seeeeeeeeeeeeeea
Point! Seapoint-my-lady. Sea Point!” these
men seated at the passenger door of the taxi,
vie for customers. What makes a good
guardtjie? A booming voice and some serious
whistling skills along with the necessary clout
to extract payment from commuters.
eeeeeea Point!
Sea point-mylady. Sea
photo: Supplied
photo: Supplied
(Is Where It’s
One of the largest free open-air events in the country, the annual
switching on of Cape Town’s festival lights in Adderley Street is also
a cherished family memory. Many an adult remembers coming in
to town as a child each year to watch the lights being switched on,
and the excitement of the countdown. Nowadays more than 80 000
people gather and, in addition to the lights, there is also a free concert,
parade and the delights of the Cape Town Summer Market (14 to 30
December) on offer.
n This year the switching on of the festival lights take place on 1 Dec.
Cape Town is a port city and,
with its bustling harbour, it is
little wonder that the city is a
global player when it comes
to boat building. Cape Town
is recognised as the number
one global manufacturer of
luxury catamarans. While these
multi-hulled vessels originated
centuries ago in Polynesia,
the modern vessels have
been perfected by local boat
builders Robertson and Caine,
who are currently the second
largest manufacturer of cats
in the world. They are also the
only manufacturers of Leopard
Catamarans, producing about
130 of these fast, smooth
sailers every year. According to
sales manager Daniel Snyman,
this number is set to double
over the next two years, due to
increased demand.
THE Noon
The number of years
that the Noon Gun has
been fired.
The number of
cannons loaded
for the time
signal. A back-up
is at the ready, in case
the first misfires.
The amount of gunpowder used every day.
19 Samoosas
These triangular pasty filled
with a variety of savoury fillings
originated in the Middle East in
the 10th century and travelled to
the Cape with slaves from India
and Indonesia. Today they are
regarded as a staple in the Cape
Malay culinary tradition and have
resulted in local twists on the
classic ground beef or chicken
with fillings of smoked snoek and
n Five spots to have great
Bibi’s Kitchen – smoked snoek
Medi Centre,
Broad Road
T: 021 761 8365
Café Ganesh – crayfish samoosas
38 Trill Road
T: 021 448 3435
Al-Haq – beef samoosas
52 Harrington Street
T: 021 465 1900
Mariam’s Kitchen –
chicken samoosas
101 St. George’s Mall opposite
the Cape Argus building
Vandiar’s Indian Cuisine –
potato samoosas
16 Dunkley Square
Barnett Street
T: 021 462 6129
Photo: Steve Gordon of an album loaned by DJ Jumbo
how can cellphone technology, which is so widely
used in South africa, help to
create health solutions? This
was the question posed by
a group of local academics
and interest groups in 2000.
The result was Cell-Life, a
local nGo that harnesses the
power and accessibility of
mobile technology to try to
change behaviour and provide
people with health information,
particularly around hiV, TB and
maternal health. The project
has been recognised around
the world for its innovation
and dedication to using new
technologies to create positive
social change.
Photo: Courtesy of the
shaKesPeare BirthPLaCe trust
in the 1970s, prisoners on robben
island were briefly allowed
to have one book other than
a religious text. The african
people’s Democratic Union of
Southern africa’s (apDUSa)
Sonny Venkatrathnam chose
The Complete Works of William
Shakespeare – which he passed
on to 31 other political prisoners,
who marked, signed and dated
passages they thought were
meaningful or significant. among
them were eddie Daniels from
the Liberal party; Saths Cooper
and Strini Moodley from the
Black Consciousness Movement;
neville alexander from apDUSa;
Govan Mbeki, walter Sisulu,
ahmed Kathrada, Mac Maharaj
and nelson Mandela from the
african national Congress; and
Kwede Mkalipi from the pan
africanist Congress. when book
allowances changed and the
text was compounded, Sonny
Venkatrathnam convinced a
warder that it was “the Bible
by william Shakespeare”, and
disguised it with Diwali greeting
n Go to the Folger Shakespeare
Library online and look under
What’s on (Folger exhibitions)
for “robben island
n Theatre director Matthew
Hahn has written a play based
on the robben island bible
and interviews with former
political prisoners.
n interested in the way
Shakespeare was read and
used on robben island? read
ashwin desai’s reading
revolution: Shakespeare on
robben island
1884 mAP
a popular afrikaans folksong and often heard at Tweede nuwe Jaar,
as one of the many well-known songs sung by the Cape Minstrels,
‘Daar Kom Die alibama’ commemorates a moment of american
war history. The lyrics refer to the CSS Alabama, a cruiser of the
Confederate States navy which visited Cape Town in 1863 during the
american Civil war. The ship managed to evade a Union blockade off
Cape point only to be sunk on 19 June 1864 in the english Channel.
Photo: suPPLied
... there are no
houses on the slopes
of Table Mountain
and no tall buildings
creating a city skyline,
and the highways have
yet to be built.
33 RobbEn
“daar kom die alibama,
die alibama, die kom oor die see,
daar kom die alibama,”
every year seamstresses
across Cape Town sew 15 000
to 20 000 glittering costumes
for the Cape Minstrel troupes.
The troupes follow the
unwritten code for uniforms
that include jacket-and-pants
suits, with a panama hat and
umbrella as accessories.
asked what happens to the
suits once the competition
is over, Cape Town Minstrels
Carnival association Ceo
Kevin Momberg says, “Some
costumes get donated to
prison programmes but a lot of
people keep their suits in the
cupboard as memorabilia from
every year’s competition.”
Costumes are serious business
and the best dressed get
awarded at the annual
competition. in 2013 the
Shoprite pennsylvanians
(pictured here) were
n To enjoy this colourful
spectacle on 2 January 2014,
be sure to claim your spot
early along the route from
district Six to cape Town
with funky flavours like
pineapple Spike, Cocopina,
razz rasberry and Mango
Tango, the soft drink, Jive is a
real Cape Town original. Jive
was started in 1989 by local
entrepreneur Sharief parker and
production takes place right
here in epping. Jive has also
added its stamp on the urban
landscape with handpainted
signs decorating retailer’s
shopfronts across the city.
Medoras are objects of ritual
and rites of passage: they are
the headdresses worn by Cape
Malay women on their wedding
day. Made from a very fine
cloth and heavily embroidered
with symbolic patterns –
originally in real gold or silver
thread – they are often family
heirlooms. weaam williams,
who is the granddaughter of
the late Saeed hartley and the
fifth generation of her family
to reside in aspeling Street in
District Six, explains: “My greatgrandmother hadji Gadija
Shadley awaldien was the only
woman in Cape Town who
could make medoras woven
with real gold or silver thread.
as a young girl, she visited
Mecca in the 1920s, and was
taught this skill. She was taken
to the Kaaba where she swore
to keep this craft a life secret.
for me, history is documented
from a male perspective;
the medora is a chance to
tell the more ephemeral
story of women. The medora
represents the history of
people who trace their roots to
the Malay archipelago, brought
to South african soil by Dutch
colonials and, in generations to
follow, moved from their homes
via the Group areas act.”
in 1884, when this map was
created by richards and Sons of
Castle Street, Cape Town looked
very different from the city we
know today. imagine walking
towards the city from Green point.
if you look to the left you will see
the Green point Common, where,
instead of the stadium, there is
only green vlei. During winter this
area filled with water and residents
used it as a venue for water sports.
as you continue on your imaginary
stroll you will notice that the city
is tiny compared to its size today:
there are no houses on the slopes
of Table Mountain and no tall
buildings creating a city skyline,
and the highways have yet to be
built. horses, not cars, travel down
familiar streets like heerengracht
and Buitengracht, and horsedrawn trams make up the bulk of
public transport. But perhaps the
biggest change, geographically
at least, is the fact that the ocean
reaches almost all the way to the
Castle. That’s because building of
the foreshore wasn’t completed
until 1945, when 400 hectares of
land was reclaimed from the sea,
and woodstock beach ceased to
Like a scattering of the flowers
that heralds the start of spring,
red bottle caps litter the urban
landscape of Cape Town. But
where do these red caps come
from? The source is the plastic
one litre bottles of cheap
liquor called “Daisy” that many
Capetonians who’ve fallen on
hard times turn to for solace.
originally from india, chutney is
a relish made from fresh fruits
and spices. The recipe travelled
from here both through
colonisers and slave traders
to various parts of the world
including South africa. Locally
the most famous of these
must be Mrs hS Ball’s Chutney,
originally made by amelia
Ball from a chutney recipe she
inherited from her mother, who
produced “Mrs henry adkins
Senior Colonial Chutney,”
commercially from around 1870.
amelia took up the chutneymaking trade when she and her
husband herbert Saddleton
Ball retired to fish hoek, Cape
Town. amelia’s husband would
take a few bottles every day by
train into Cape Town to sell. it
was on one of these sales trips
that he met fred Metter, a food
importer who started making
the product, which resulted in
increased production. Today
the brand is owned by Unilever.
Photo: suPPLied
“Throughout history the issue of sanitation has been a political
one (London’s Great Stink of 1858, when parliament came to a
standstill due to the stench emanating from the river Thames, is
just one example). in a case like Cape Town, where many people
live in close proximity and have to share toilet facilities, having an
enclosed, modern porcelain toilet can become a powerful symbol
of a citizen’s rights to privacy and dignity; for this reason portable
toilets are seen by many informal residents and political activists
as unacceptable. This issue has sparked the so-called “poo
protests” that have recently occurred in the city.”
Prof. Steven robins
Shine Shine was started in
2007 and is the brainchild of
Tracy rushmere and designer
heidi Chisholm. The distinct
tongue-in-cheek designs of
the fabrics and products that
make up the Shine Shine range
celebrate the iconography and
bright colours of africa. “The
designs evolved from my love
of commemorative, religious
and political fabrics that i have
collected from all over africa,”
says Tracy. “Shine Shine is a
more contemporary urban take
on this tradition.”
Photo: VLadimir tretChiKoff foundation
Photo steVe Gordon
One of the city most famous artists, Vladimir Tretchikoff, was born
in Russia but called Cape Town home for more than 60 years. It
was here in the Mother City that the artist painted some of the
women that he would be famous for including the Chinese Girl and
Miss Wong. According to research conducted by Tretchikoff biographer Boris Gorelik the sitter for Miss Wong was Cape Town resident Valerie Howe. According to reports the Port Elizabeth-born
beauty was 18 when Tretchikoff painted her at his Bishopscourt
home in 1955. At the time, she lived in Cape Town and walked her
dogs in Camps Bay, where she met Tretchikoff by chance.
on 20 august 1983 the United Democratic front was launched in Mitchells plain. The UDf mobilised hundreds of community-based organisations in the struggle for a democratic, united, non-racial, and non-sexist
South africa. Steve Gordon, a member and the sound engineer at the
launch, recalls the importance of emblems during this time: “organisations like Community arts project, which still exists in Chapel Street,
trained communities and civic groups in producing independent media.
remember that this was the era pre-digital technology; if you look at
T-shirts from that era, they were silkscreened in small batches with little
blemishes and nuances that almost make them like artists’ prints.”
The udF
mobilised hundreds
of community-based
organisations in
the struggle for a
democratic, united,
non-racial, and nonsexist South africa.
whether we like to admit it or
not, Cape Town ranks poorly
when it comes to substance
abuse. Drug use is also directly
related to crime, with police
statistics showing a 45.3%
increase in drug-related crime
from 2008/2009 to 2011/2012.
often drug use, especially the
use of “tik”, is also related to
risky sexual behaviour and
sexually transmitted infections
including hiV.
if you know of someone in
need of help, contact the
South african national council
of alcoholism and drug
dependence on 021 945
4080/1 or t he cape Town drug
counselling centres 021 447
8026 or 021 391 0216. if you
witness drug-related activities
call SaPS on 10111.
In Cape Town you literally have history underfoot. The granite
kerbstones that you find in the central city have been part of the
city fabric since the late 19th century. The granite was most likely
quarried at the Bellevue Quarry on the slopes of Table Mountain,
in the vicinity of the present day Bellevue Street. Because many
of the kerbs fall within a heritage overlay zone on the City’s
planning scheme, any construction that affects the stones needs
to undergo scrutiny by the heritage resources department and in
most cases needs to be preserved as part of the fabric of the city.
according to the organ Donor
foundation of South africa,
twenty-four adults and three
children received heart transplants
in this country in 2012. almost
fifty years ago the radical
procedure – to replace the heart
of one person with another – was
pioneered in Cape Town. on 3
December 1967 the first human
heart transplant took place at the
Groote Schuur hospital, tying
the city to this ground-breaking
medical triumph. The surgery
was performed by Dr Christiaan
Barnard, who headed up a team
of thirty surgeons, anaesthetists,
nurses, and technicians, including
his own brother Marius. This took
approximately nine hours and Louis
washkansky, who received Denise
Darvall’s heart, lived for eighteen
days, with full heart function,
before succumbing to pneumonia.
register as an organ donor at
39 TATTooS
Tattoos have a long maritime connection, and even the word tattoo
comes from a Tahitian word, tattau, introduced to the west by the
crew of Captain Cook’s voyage to the pacific islands in the late 18th
century. in Cape Town, tattoos have not only been the province of
sailors, however, but also of gangsters. prison tattoos related to the
number gangs of the 26s, 27s and 28s are specific to Cape Town
and include a huge variety of symbols and pictures which represent
a gang member’s criminal history and gang alliances.
Ruan Scott, who works at deluxe Coffeeworks, sports a
tattoo which says “lekker by die see” on his forearm”.
There was a time when CATs came from Cradock, CARs came from
Clanwilliam and CEOs hailed from Grabouw – if you’re talking about
vehicle registration plates, that is. Nowadays, Cape Town’s number
plates still feature CA, which once denoted Cape Town as the oldest/
largest city in the province (at the time Port Elizabeth was CB) .
n don’t want to ride solo any more? consider a car pool. it can save
you time (work or read while stuck in traffic) and money (shared
fuel costs and less wear and tear on your car).
Condoms are recognised as the most effective barrier against the risk
of hiV/aiDS infection, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs). with approximately 5.26 million people in South africa
living with hiV (mid-year population estimates by Statistics Sa, May
2013), encouraging condom use is important. not only does the 4
Secs Condom applicator designed by …XYZ Design ensure safe,
correct and quick application, but the cheeky packaging also seeks to
subvert some of the resistance to condom use. The 4 Secs Condom
applicator has won several design awards and was included in Cape
Town’s world Design Capital bid book – certainly a testament that
good design can not only transform life but also save it.
from the time of Jan van riebeeck, 1652 until the end of the 17th
century, furniture made in Cape Town workshops was influenced
by the styles in holland. Three centuries later Cape Town-based
designer Gregor Jenkin reinterpreted the Cape Dutch furniture
with his design Cape Table that is constructed from flat sheets of
laser-cut steel. not only did he express the style in a new material
but traditional details like turned wooden legs and joints are
reinterpreted through the steel. The table resulted in international
acclaim for the designer and is stocked at the famed Conran shop
in London.
The first issue of the “argie”,
as it is affectionately known,
was published on Saturday 2
January 1857 at 63 Longmarket
Street, Cape Town. Today the
Cape Argus, which was named
after the hundred-eyed giant
of Greek mythology, is still
produced within shouting
distance of this original site,
at newspaper house on St
George’s Mall. in between,
the paper became the first
to use telegraphs, made its
reputation as a politically
liberal publication, and remains
unapologetically aimed at
the middle to upper income
earners of Cape Town. By far
the best anecdote related
to Cape Town’s oldest daily
paper was overheard by this
writer when a local, seeing a
heavily tattooed fellow citizen,
quipped: “hy lyk soos hy was
geslat met ’n nat Argus” (he
looks like he was slapped with a
wet Argus).
n The cape argus has recently
appointed a new editor,
Jermaine craig. Find out more
with names like razorblades,
washing Machines, and Thunder
Dome, surf spots along the
coastline of Cape Town are varied,
challenging wave riders like few
others. it is little wonder that the
art of shaping the right board for
these epic conditions has resulted
in several local producers. anton
Butler, founder of ferral, who’s
been in the business of boards
since 1985, explains that we have
both reef and beach breaks, so
surfers often opt for multipurpose
boards. “My bread and butter
is high-performance boards,
which are CnC machined and
then hand finished, but there
is also a retro movement that
is gaining momentum. These
old-school boards are 100%
handmade, which requires time
and craftsmanship.”
48 SnoEK
what does Cape Town taste like? for many the answer is snoek.
This long bright-silver fish is synonymous with the city, and a
source of sustenance and livelihood for many. in and around Cape
Town you can buy freshly caught snoek directly from fishermen
on quays in hout Bay and Kalk Bay. But it is often salted and airdried, or smoked for later use in the hearty classic Cape Malay dish
smoorsnoek (a local interpretation of kedgeree), which combines
onions, tomatoes, potatoes and spices with rice.
The architectural style
commonly referred to as Cape
Dutch is an inheritance from
the settlers in the early years
of the Cape Colony. although
ascribed to the Dutch, the style
also reflects influences from
italy, france and portugal.
The style is typified by thick,
whitewashed walls, a thatch
roof, small-paned windows, and
ornate gables. Various gable
styles can be seen through
the region, including scrolled,
curvilinear, pedimented
Baroque and neoclassical
gables. one of the most famous
gables in the Cape is the Groot
Constantia manor house gable.
The wine farm was established
in 1685 by Simon van der Stel,
one of the first Dutch governors
of the Cape. The manor house,
built in 1692 and altered over the
course of time was destroyed
by a fire in 1925. it was restored
to its current state by architect
frank Kendall in 1926-27.
47 bEER
while the Cape region might be
well known internationally for its
fine wines, beer brewing actually
predates wine production in the
Mother City. The Dutch settlers
who arrived in 1652 brought with
them their native beer-drinking
culture, and soon a local supply
was needed. The fresh-water
springs of the eastern slopes of
Devil’s peak and what is known
today as newlands provided
the main ingredient, and home
breweries were established here
as early as 1656. The newlands
Brewery, the oldest commercial
brewery in South africa, was
established when Jacob
Letterstedt built the original
Mariendahl Brewery in 1820.
More recently, home breweries
and microbreweries have been
popping up, establishing a craft
iLLustration: etienne BritZ
beer culture. one such brewer,
Devil’s peak Brewing Company,
celebrates a sense of place in
its name: “we chose the name
because we wanted the name
to reflect the place where we
brew our beer. Devil’s peak is
an iconic landmark and it is
steeped in myth,” says sales
manager Mitch Lockhart.
We would love to hear
your suggestions of
other objects which
represent Cape Town
to you. Drop us a line or
send us a photo at [email protected]
or come and find us
on Facebook.
Sometimes the absence of things can be more telling than their
presence. In Cape Town’s case, the city can be defined not only
by what is here, but also by what is not – by those things that our city
has lost during its more than 300 year history.
Text: ambre Nicolson
Today, the
two ends of the
highway, hanging
in mid-air over
the central city’s
Foreshore area,
have become Cape
Town icons, used by
protesters, artists and
film crews alike.
iLLustration: infestation
ome people say it was an
engineering error, some
people say it was the fault
of a recalcitrant property
owner who refused to sell his land,
some people say the City of Cape
Town decided at the time that traffic volumes didn’t warrant further
work and others claim it might
even have been a Hollywood
conspiracy to ensure a good film
shoot location for highway chase
scenes. Whatever the case, in the
1970s work on the Foreshore freeways, as they came to be known,
abruptly ceased. Today, the two
ends of the uncompleted highway, hanging in mid-air over the
central city’s Foreshore area, have
become Cape Town icons, used by
protesters, artists and film crews
alike. Now, thanks to the City of
Cape Town’s research partnership
with UCT, there has been renewed
interest in the Foreshore area. The
hope is that with further research
the City will identify possible new
uses for the unfinished highways
and some of the land that surrounds them.
The Khoisan language group
is defined by its use of clicks as
consonants (one of the languages
within the group has 48 distinct
consonants!). The group of languages can be divided into the Ju,
Khoe, Taa and !Ui language families and subdivided into many local dialects, like the ones spoken
by San clans who originally in-
habited the Cape Town area. The
languages all contain at least four
different kinds of clicks which are
represented by symbols, including
the dental (|), palatal (!), alveolarpalatal (‡), and the lateral (||). The
Khoisan languages are also richly
metaphorical. Megan Biesele, an
anthropologist who studied the
Kalahari Ju|’hoan, describes how
Khoisan languages have many
“respect names” for the same
object. “For instance, one of the
respect words for python is g!utzum-g|a’a, ‘water-nose-eye’, feet
are called ‘sand-pressers’, water
is ‘soft throat’ and lion is ‘night’,
‘moonless night’, ‘night medicine’,
‘cries in the night’ and ‘jealousy’”.
Sadly, today many of these dialects are either extinct or spoken
by less than 1 000 people, a reflection of how local Khoisan clans
themselves were decimated and
displaced through disease, slave
trade and the encroachment on
their lands by colonial expansion.
n Find out more about local
Khoisan culture at !Khwa ttu
cultural centre near Yzerfontein
on the r27. call 022 492 2998.
At 11:56:23 on 22 August 2010
the Athlone power station’s two
water cooling towers, known as
the two ladies of Athlone, fell to
the ground. The planned implosion took less than 10 seconds and
happened 4 minutes early, taking
many of those assembled by surprise. The water towers had been a
Cape Town landmark for decades,
after being built in 1962 as part of
Cape Town’s main coal burning
electricity power plant.
Perhaps Cape Town’s most visible
absence is also its most heart
breaking: District Six. This piece of
land, stretching from the sea to the
mountain between the central city
and Salt River, was already known
as a crowded, cosmopolitan area
in 1867 when it was named as the
sixth municipal district of Cape
Town. Closely connected to the
life of the port and home to locals,
recent immigrants and people of
all colours and cultures, District
Six was a busy, energetic and happily diverse inner-city area with a
strong sense of community.
On 11 February 1966, District
Six was declared a whites-only
area under the Group Areas Act.
Forced removals started two
years later, and continued for
the next 15 years. By the early
80s over 60 000 people had been
evicted from their homes and
moved over 25km away to the
Cape Flats. Along with the people, the sense of community, culture and solidarity built up over a
century was endangered. While
it is hoped that the area will be
returned to its former residents,
the recognition that District Six
can never be recreated as it was
is summed up in the words of former activist who fought against
the forced removals, Vincent
Kolbe: “The Land Restitution
Act deals with people who were
thrown out of their homes. What
we need is something to deal with
people who were thrown out of
their souls.” Today, under the
Land Restitution Act, the push to
return former residents, or their
descendants, to District Six continues.
The story of the washerwoman’s
ring goes something like this:
Once upon a time in Cape Town,
there lived a man who owned a
magical snake-shaped ring. The
ring allowed no harm to befall its
wearer, especially from sharp objects. The power of the ring was
discovered one day when the man
tried to have his hair cut. No matter how sharp the barber’s blade,
it couldn’t cut even a single hair
on the man’s head. One day the
man gave the ring to his wife, a
washerwoman who wore it when
she went to wash clothes at the
Platteklip stream on the slopes of
Table Mountain. According to legend the ring slipped off her finger
and was lost in the stream, where
it remains to this day.
It’s thought that this legend
might be related to local Imam,
Sayed Abdul Malik of Batavia
who was said to have arrived in
the Cape as a slave with a serpent-shaped ring in the late 18th
century. What’s more, in 2006 archaeologist Elizabeth Gryzmala
Jordan unearthed just such an
unusual-looking ring at the site
where the washerwoman once
worked. Could the ring have been
found at last?
n visit Sayed abdul Malik’s
shrine in upper buitenkant
Street in vredehoek
& fOUnd
in Cape town
iLLustration: infestation
From gold coins and a 300-year-old cannon, to a handwritten
Arabic-Afrikaans manuscript, here are a couple of
Cape Town’s recently found objects.
n 1822 an English wooden
merchant vessel, the Fame,
travelling from India and bound
for England, was forced onto
the rocks just outside Table Bay
by a stormy north-westerly wind.
Although all but four of those
aboard were saved, the ship
itself broke into two and sank
without trace. Almost 150 years
later, in 1965, some local divers
discovered the wreck, lying a little
south of Graaff’s Pool on the Sea
Point promenade. Not only did
the divers find some gold Mohur
coins, but they also got to keep the
loot, since at the time there was
no legislation in place to protect
A 300-YEARoLD CAnnon
On 3 September this year, workers digging a trench on Orange
Street discovered buried treasure:
a cannon cast in Sweden for the
VOC 300 years ago. “Cannons
were used by the Dutch for coastal defence. Other cannons came
from shipwrecks, or were brought
to South Africa by the English
or donated by the French to the
Dutch,” explained Gerry de Vries,
Chairperson of the Cannon Association of SA, in a subsequent
interview. At the time De Vries
suggested that the one found on
Orange Street had been used as a
bollard. “There was no gun battery near Orange Street. The reason that the cannon was found
there is most likely that, when it
became obsolete, it was erected
vertically on the street corner as
a bollard, to prevent ox wagons
from cutting corners and scattering pedestrians.” The find brings
the number of cannons found in
South Africa to 980.
It is thought that the quagga, that
strange hybrid-looking animal
with what looks like the head of
a zebra and the body of a horse,
used to roam the plains around
Cape Town in herds of between
30 and 50 animals. That is, until
colonial settlers started hunting
the quagga in earnest. By 1878 all
quaggas in the wild were extinct
and the last remaining captive
quagga, a female who lived in a
zoo in Amsterdam, died in 1883.
So why is the quagga considered found? In 1984 the quagga
was the first extinct animal to
have its DNA mapped. The results showed the quagga was not
in fact a distinct species, as had
been thought, but was actually a
subspecies of the plains zebra endemic to South Africa. This led, in
1986, to Reinhold Rau, a Germanborn conservationist, starting the
Quagga Project, a South Africanbased breeding back scheme that
attempted to recreate the quagga
by selectively breeding southern
plains zebras displaying reduced
striping on their backs and legs.
The project now has a herd of
89 animals, which show highly
reduced striping and a brownish tint to their coats, although it
remains to be seen whether the
project will be ultimately successful in reversing the “extinction” of
the quagga.
The Ajami manuscript, found in
Cape Town in early October 2013
by Turkish academic Dr Mustafa
Yayla, is written in Afrikaans using Arabic script and provides
direct evidence that Afrikaans
originated in the slave population
of the Cape. It was by chance that
a community member, after hearing a talk that Dr Yayla did on the
heritage of Timbuktu, organised
by the Cape Family Research Forum (CFRF), contacted Dr Yayla
to look at some Arabic–Afrikaans
documents she had in her personal library. Dr Yayla immediately
realised that the document was
in fact a rare example of a handwritten Bayaanud Deen, written
in 1873 by students of Sheik Abu
Bakr Effendi, a Turkish judge who
had a huge impact on Islam and
linguistics in the Cape. According to CFRF researcher Mogamat Kamedien, the manuscript
has prompted Dr Yayla to invite
more Turkish researchers to come
to Cape Town to study the document. According to Kamedien,
the document will remain safely
in the possession of the family who own it. “I can assure the
community that the document is
still on South African shores and
still in the hands of the family.
The family themselves realise that
this particular document is part of
South Africa’s history.”
Source: article originally published
on the VoCFM website on 4
october 2013
In 1984 the
quagga was the
first extinct animal
to have its dNa
mapped. The results
showed the quagga
was not in fact a
distinct species, as
had been thought,
but was actually
a subspecies of
the plains zebra
endemic to South
Some of your
Photos: Lisa Burnell
From food to photos, cars to passports, you gave us
some unexpected answers to the questions: “What
is your most treasured object?” and “What object
represents Cape Town to you?”
Patrick O’Gorman
Fish and chips
from Lusitania! My
favourite object is
probably my grey
MotoMia scooter
because it gets me
from A to B. Does
she have a name?
Well, sometimes I
might call her
Baby …
David Kigoa
That’s a hard
question. Can I say
God? No? Okay, how
about snoek? I like
snoek. Braaied with
some salad it’s very
Dayyaan Adonis
“That’s easy, my favourite object has to
be my pick-up truck; I take good care of
that thing. And an object that represents
Cape Town? That’s got to be the Gatsby
for sure.”
Chamboko (left)
Vuyo Noyce
Terry Pheto
Sarah Masson
“My most prized
possession is this gold
bangle that I received
from my husband and
my two children for
Mother’s Day. I would
say a typically Cape
Town object is a narrow
street; there’s lots in
“My favourite object
is my South African
passport and being
from Joburg I would
say a good object to
represent Cape Town is
a vintage fashion item – I
always find something
interesting when I come
“I’m from LA in the
States and I would
be lost without my
Moleskine notebook.
For an object specific
to Cape Town I would
choose one of those
bracelets made out of a
South African coin.”
“My cellphone is my
favourite object because I
can listen to music on it, that
and WhatsApp my friends.
I come from Queenstown in
the Eastern Cape, but I’ve
lived in Cape Town for four
years now.”
“An object that
symbolises Cape Town
is its people … I know it’s
not an object really, but
I think its amazing how
people always greet
you here in their own
language on the street.
Oh, and a treasured
object … um, oysters? I
love shellfish.”
Nokhenke (right)
“My favourite thing is a
photograph of my son
taken when he was in
grade one – it’s so cute!
Something that is very
Cape Town for me is the
wind; it can really drive
you crazy, especially
when you have just done
your hair.”

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