Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope

Slave Lodge

A new exhibition opens with the renaming of exhibition spaces at the Iziko Slave Lodge

For media images and interview requests, please contact: Zikhona Jafta at zjafta@iziko.org.za

 

Cape Town fish market at Rogge Bay (Roggebaai), 1898 post-emancipation. Artist: Cecil Schott.
“The majority of free blacks lived by fishing, an occupation central to the port town and one which gave it a distinctive character. According to Otto Mentzel (VOC soldier), ‘No single person or boat owner is in a position to engage in fishing on a large scale because the co-operative labour of several persons, boats and a net is essential for success.’ Pooling of resources was essential to free-black fishermen, who lacked large amounts of capital but had close kinship networks in the town. While men carried out the fishing, women and children scaled, gutted and dried the fish along the shoreline and sold the product in the town. Free black fishing families formed the first identifiable occupational labouring community in Cape Town, which dominated the foreshore area up to the early twentieth century.” (Worden, van Heyningen and Bickford-Smith, 1998). The old Cape Town fish market at Rogge Bay (Roggebaai), 1898 post-emancipation. Artist: Cecil Schott. Iziko William Fehr Collection CA 56.

 

On Friday, 27 May, the Iziko Slave Lodge officially opened a new exhibition – with a special renaming of the museum’s various rooms and spaces. Titled Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope, the exhibition seeks to answer the questions: Who were the enslaved? What work did they do? How did they manage to survive a new, unwelcoming and often violent environment once they arrived? How were the able to communicate with each other when they came from far-flung regions: South Asia, South-East Asia, Madagascar, East Africa and initially West Africa?

 

Deputy Director General of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Vusithemba Ndima attends the opening of Who were the enslaved?
Deputy Director General of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Vusithemba Ndima attends the opening of Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope at the Iziko Slave Lodge. Here, Ndima, is taken on a walkabout of the exhibition by Curator Shanaaz Galant, accompanied by Iziko Directors Paul Tichmann (Collections and Digitisations) and Wayne Florence (Research and Exhibitions), 2022. Photograph: Nigel Pamplin © Iziko Museums of South Africa.

 
Through Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope, Iziko continues to transform the Iziko Slave Lodge from a site of human wrongs to one of human rights; to connect with South Africa and the Cape’s slave roots and raise awareness around issues of human rights, equality and justice in the present. And when exploring the ground floor, with its renamed rooms, visitors will find the stories of the enslaved, free blacks, the formerly enslaved and the Khoi – all of whom were people of strength, courage and bravery and whose acts of resistance are memorialised within this museum. In these spaces, you will sense their resilience and bravery amidst great hardship.

 

“We remain driven to transform the Slave Lodge through our research and curatorial processes as well as our outreach and educational programmes. Our new exhibition spaces are now reflecting these processes as we endeavor to answer these questions. As you walk through the exhibitions tonight you will see the focus on the enslaved that built Cape Town as well as those who cultivated the wheat and wine farms,” said Ms Rooksana Omar, CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa.

 

Visitors engage with the items and artefacts on display
Visitors engage with the items and artefacts on exhibition as part of Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope at the Iziko Slave Lodge.

 

Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope humanises and restores the dignity of enslaved women, men and children who were brought to and kept at the Cape as chattel slaves. This exhibition also restores to memory the enslaved people, manumitted slaves, free blacks and the Khoi who built and maintained the settlement at the Cape.