Iziko Commemorates the Abolition of Slavery in South Africa

  • Posted: Nov 27, 2015

Iziko Museums of South Africa, 1 December 2015

Iziko Museums of South Africa is commemorating the abolition of slavery in South Africa, known as Emancipation Day, and World Aids Day on 1 December, with *free entrance to its museums. Cape Town has a dark and difficult history, as one of the largest slave-holding areas of South Africa, and the Iziko Slave Lodge was a central component of the slave trade in the Cape.Emancipation Day commemorates the 181st anniversary of the abolition of slavery in South Africa.

In June this year, the discovery of the São José Paquete shipwreck, off the coast of Clifton made international news as the first-known shipwreck to be identified, studied and excavated that foundered with enslaved Africans on board. The discovery of and recovery of artefacts from the wreck is a globally significant achievement in the investigation of the impact of the trans-Atlantic slave trade on world history, and creates a better understanding of the slave trade in South Africa.

Research on the wreck continues, and Iziko in partnership with George Washington University and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington will showcase a portion of the São José artefacts as part of the museum’s (NMAAHC) inaugural exhibition during 2016. http://nmaahc.si.edu/Programs/SlaveWrecks

Iziko recently launched the website www.slavery.iziko.org.za. This dedicated online resource provides insight into the history and significance of slavery with particular focus on Cape Town and the Slave Lodge - where an estimated 9,000 Africans were incarcerated from 1679 to 1807. Today, forty percent of the current inhabitants of Cape Town are slave descendants. Under the theme ‘From human wrongs to human rights,’ the Iziko Slave Lodge provides a space to tell the story of slavery while also creating awareness of a range of human rights issues.

On Emancipation Day, Iziko will host a lunch-time lecture programme under the theme ‘Reinterpreting the legacies of slavery and identity in South Africa’. Talks will be presented by heritage experts, Samuel North, Roderick Sauls and Sandy Shell at the Iziko Slave Lodge.(see website for programme details).

“We experience the legacy of slavery everyday: in culture, in politics, and in family histories, thus it is important to remember the role that slaves played in the development of South Africa. It is also imperative that we recognise that slavery still exists in some parts of the world, and that people are enslaved in many forms, whether economically, socially or by force. Learning about slavery’s past creates awareness of those who are still suffering, and encourages us to support global efforts to eradicate modern-day slavery in its entirety.

On 1 December, we not only remember those who are infected and affected are affected by HIV/AIDS, we are also mindful of the plight of those who even today are victims of modern day forms of slavery - human trafficking, forced labour and forced early marriage” says Rooksana Omar, CEO, Iziko.

World Aids Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show their support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have died. 


‘Walk the Museum Mile’

Explore the Iziko Slave Lodge and trace your roots; find the names of the first Cape slaves on the ‘Wall of Remembrance’, and see exhibitions depicting the history and legacy of slavery at the Cape, as well as the struggle against apartheid. The exhibitions, ‘Red in the Rainbow’ by Lynn Carneson and ‘Singing Freedom: Music and the struggle against apartheid’ are currently on show here.

A visit to the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum promises to be a unique and memorable Cape experience. The exhibitions ‘Who built Cape Town?’ and ‘Mapping Bo-Kaap’ showcase artefacts, contemporary and historic photographs and art, reflective of this historically rich and vibrant area.

Step back in time at Iziko Koopmans-de Wet House, Iziko Old Town House and Groot Constantia Manor House, where an array of art, antique furniture, silver, ceramics and porcelain is on display. All three museums were built in the 18th century and reflect the neo-classic and Cape Dutch architecture prevalent at the early Cape. The Iziko Old Town House, which houses the Michaelis Collection, served as the Cape Town City Hall from 1839—1905.


*Excludes Planetarium and Castle of Good Hope (free entry only on International Museum Day and Heritage Day).

For media queries, contact Lee-Shay Collison on 021 481 3874 or email lcollison@iziko.org.za


Issued by: Lee-Shay Collison
Media Liaison Officer: Institutional Advancement, Iziko Museums of South Africa
Telephone: +27 (0) 21 481 3891                                 Facsimile: +27 (0) 21 461 9620
Cell: 073 585 9843                                                                        E-mail: lcollison@iziko.org.za
Website http://www.iziko.org.za                             


On behalf of: Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa


Notes to editor:

About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)

Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope and Planetarium). Visit our webpage at www.iziko.org.za, join our online community on Facebook (www.facebook.com/IzikoMuseums) or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions.


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