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Celebrate Freedom with Iziko Museums This Freedom Day, visit the Iziko Slave Lodge and remember those who lived under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope

Slave Lodge

For media images and interview requests, please contact: Zikhona Jafta at

The Iziko Slave Lodge is one of Cape Town’s oldest buildings, and has answered to many names over the last three centuries – each name reflecting the long and rich history of this site. In 1998, this museum was renamed the Slave Lodge, and today the site seeks to work under the umbrella theme, From human wrongs to human rights. Exhibitions at the Slave Lodge explore the long history of slavery in South Africa, and, through our exhibitions, Iziko addresses issues focused specifically on human rights awareness.

Image of artist Wilhelm Heinrich Franz Ludwig Langschmidt’s oil painting depicting Long Street, Cape Town, in 1845. When looking across Long Street into Pepper Street, St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is visible in the distance, below Devil’s Peak. Although we do not know their names, the street is filled with people, such as a washerwoman carrying a bundle of laundry on her head, a trader carrying baskets filled with fresh cauliflowers and carrots, free black women dressed in coloured skirts and embroidered scarfs, as well as a man with an umbrella wearing pointed shoes – a testimony to Cape Town’s varied post emancipation society. Iziko William Fehr Collection CD115. The artwork is on exhibition as part of Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope at the Iziko Slave Lodge.

This Freedom Day, join Iziko Museums of South Africa in celebrating the liberation of South Africa and its people from years of colonialism and apartheid. On Wednesday, 27 April 2022, visit the Iziko Slave Lodge and select Iziko Museums for *free and explore all that Iziko has on show in commemoration and celebration of freedom.

At the Iziko Slave Lodge, must-see exhibitions include the new exhibition, Who were the enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope. Here, spaces in the Slave Lodge have been renamed as we seek to answer the questions: Who were the enslaved? What work did they do? How did they manage to survive a new, often violent environment once they arrived? How were they 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? As you explore the ground-floor, with its renamed rooms, you will find the stories of those enslaved at the Cape of Good Hope. These are the narratives of the enslaved, of free blacks, of the formerly enslaved, and of the Khoi – and throughout the exhibition, you will sense their resilience amid hardship.

Also on show at the Iziko Slave Lodge are the New Slavery Exhibitions – where the exhibition narrative has been rewritten to give greater recognition to the presence of women and children, in order to acknowledge their agency. The exhibition seeks to highlight the legacies and afterlives of slavery, and comes as the presentation of many truths in a traumatic and complex history of slavery and dispossession – specifically as it impacted on the lives of most black South Africans.  

Detail of artist Rod Sauls’ installation, M.O.E.D (Menslikheid. Ordentlikheid. Eerlikheid. Deugsaamheid.), 2021. On exhibition as part of the New Slavery Exhibitions at the Iziko Slave Lodge. This panel, dedicated to the bravery of women and children, represents the conditions of those historically enslaved in the Lodge. The collage burnt into wood speaks to the suffering and survival of those enslaved; the fabric represents their love and compassion.

On the second floor of the Slave Lodge, the MAD exhibition seeks to weave narratives that have remained muted and undocumented into social history. The first in a series, this exhibition places particular focus on ‘coloured’ men who live in the Cape Flats. These are men who live out their humanity through oppressive belief systems – hence the acronym MAD (Men Affirming Dignity). The exhibition Red in the Rainbow invites the visitor to experience the lives of a family of activists and make up their own minds about what the journey means for them. The story of the Carneson family is one of thousands of courageous and idealistic people from all ethnic backgrounds who joined together to fight oppression and racism during apartheid, and Red in the Rainbow provides a vivid and compelling story of courage and perseverance over decades of apartheid.

Other must-see exhibitions at the Slave Lodge include Aluta Continua, Singing Freedom: music and the struggle against apartheid and Unshackled History: the Wreck of the Slave Ship, São José, 1794.

Lynne Carneson, of the Carneson family whom the exhibition is about, takes a visitor on a walkabout of Red in the Rainbow at the Iziko Slave Lodge during the in_herit FESTIVAL 2021. Photograph: Marla Burger.

Freedom Day comes as an opportunity to reflect on South Africa’s long journey from slavery, colonialism, apartheid and the many other forms of oppression the South African people have endured. We trust that a visit to Iziko Museums of South Africa, and to the Iziko Slave Lodge, will create, maintain and increase awareness around our human rights and freedom.

*Free entry excludes the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome, Groot Constantia, the Castle of Good Hope, and museums closed on Wednesdays of for repairs and renovations.

For more information of what to see at Iziko Museums of South Africa this Freedom Day, visit: /whats-on.

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