Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Khoi and San descendants yesterday cleansed the Castle of Good Hope to comfort the souls of their ancestors forced off the land where the colonial monument was built 350 years ago.
Heritage consultant Ron Martin, from the Goringhaiqua Indigenous House, said the cleansing was about “reclaiming this space and turning it into something positive”.
“We aim to redress the narrative, the accepted history told from one perspective,” said Martin.
“This space was cleared to build this castle. It has become a very tangible symbol of colonialism, apartheid and the pain of our people.
“Once you accept something negative and turn it into something positive, that is the first step of healing. That’s what we need to do now.”
Martin said the castle represented “dispossession to indigenous people”.
“It was part of a systematic process of dispossession. The castle was a very negative space for the first people,” he added.
“A lot of them still feel unwelcome in this space. We need to reclaim this space.”
Calvyn Gilfellan, chief executive of the castle’s board, said they would spend the next year inviting locals into the castle to get to know its role in their history.
“The historical narrative is full of holes. Those holes need to be plugged. We must acknowledge what was here before the castle,” said Gilfellan.
“Our narrative is not simply emotional. We have historians who have built an alternative history based on fact.
“It is not just about criticizing colonial history. We are starting with facts and telling an inclusive story.”
Katrina Frieslaar from Belhar said yesterday’s cleansing ceremony was emotional.
“Our forefathers suffered. That what was ours was taken from us. We need to heal and be released from that,” said Frieslaar.
“I feel my ancestors should rest.”
Aaron Messelaar, chairman of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, said cleansing ceremonies were significant to heal from the past.
“Colonials built this castle and brutally murdered our forefathers. We are coming to free their spirits,” said Messelaar.
“It is very emotional when you remember what has happened in the past. Tears are falling today too.
“We are guided by our ancestors to do the right thing. Our ancestors are leading us. We have prayed and released the bondage of the past.”
Moeshfieka Botha, culture, heritage and education officer at the castle, told Weekend Argus the castle would run a programme intended to “build an inclusive historical narrative of the castle”.
Activities would include the Aba Te Indigenous Legacy Project that will run at the castle every week.
This project will include lessons on the Nama language, traditional and medicinal herbs, Bushman bow-making and music as well as indigenous history.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Anti-apartheid icon Imam Abdullah Haron is being remembered with series of events over the next few days, including a prayer gathering at his gravesite and a film screening.
Haron died in detention on September 27 1969 at the hands of apartheid era police who said at the time he died when falling down a staircase.
His grandson Khalid Shamis yesterday remembered Haron’s “four lonely months” in detention at the Claremont Main Road Mosque.
Haron was detained on May 18 1969 under the Terrorism Act after it became evident he had strong links with the Pan African Congress. Apartheid authorities had banned that political party.
Shamis delivered the Friday sermon at the weekly Islamic prayer, reflecting on his grandfather’s life and work.
“In prison, during those four lonely months of isolation and torture before they could break his will the imam broke his own desire for food by gathering himself in fasting everyday in anticipation of the great breaking with the world and the great gathering with Allah (God),” said Shamis.
“I think he knew it was the end and he prepared himself.”
Shamis told the mosque congregation he wanted to “share with you the glimpse that I feel I have received from looking at and trying to understand the legacy of my grandfather”.
“Sixty years ago he was appointed as the youngest ever imam in the Cape. I believe that he intentionally sought to break traditions that he saw had long since stifled and subdued his community,” said Shamis.
Haron was appointed religious leader at Al-Jamia Mosque in Stegman Road, Claremont, near the Main Road mosque.
Shamis said his grandfather did not follow the tradition; that of attending the mosque one’s father went to.
“Perhaps it was part of his natural disposition to work against formalised structures, but I like to think that he consciously chose to work against those structures for a greater good,” he said.
Haron also preached Islam in black areas, prohibited under previous racist laws, to “break the segregation that apartheid had instilled in order to gather those who were suffering more under apartheid, to give them belonging and hope”.
“For that he was derided by his peers and looked down upon even after his death,” said Shamis.
“He broke the stereotype of the imam and who this abstracted martyr figure, this elevated hero actually was.”
Shamis, who is a documentary filmmaker, will screen ‘Imam and I’ at UCT’s Zoology Building on Monday. The film tells the story of Haron’s anti-apartheid activism and community work.
The Islamic Unity Convention will meanwhile host a prayer gathering at Haron’s gravesite at the Mowbray cemetery tomorrow (SUNDAY) from 10am.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
After battling with drug and alcohol addiction, a Cape Town film festival organiser started screening documentary films inspiring others to sober up.
Dougie Dudgeon, organiser of the third annual South African Recovery Film Festival, says the four-day event planned for next week in the city centre is “underpinned by a hopeful message”.
“This festival is a celebration of recovery rather than a somber affair. It would be depressing if I was still drinking and using drugs,” says Dudgeon.
As part of the non-profit collective While You Were Sleeping, Dudgeon regularly runs film events.
This collective is “committed to bringing progressive documentary films with important social, political and environmental messages to South African audiences”.
Recovery’s films will focus on “themes of addiction and mental health issues and promote the solutions and successes of recovery from these debilitating conditions”.
Its opening night film ‘A Royal Hangover’, on September 24 at the Labia cinema, examines drinking culture in the United Kingdom.
Dudgeon says this film, as the 15 others on the festival line-up, is part of “seeking ways to open up the debate”.
“It takes a look at the costs (of alcohol consumption) to individuals and society. Arguably the UK has an equally entrenched alcohol and drug problem as in South Africa,” says Dudgeon.
“After the screening we will have a moderated discussion with a guest speaker or two trying to offering a local context.
“And should any of the content help people resolve issues they might have, that would be great.”
Dudgeon adds: “The stigma that surrounds addiction, alcoholism and mental health issues often drives shame and ignorance of the conditions and not only makes access to help difficult, but provides no space to celebrate the solutions.
“It highlights solutions that exist and demonstrates through the powerful success stories of ordinary heroes that addiction can be beaten.”
Dudgeon believes addiction is overplayed while recovery should be celebrated more.
“Just as Cape Town has a big alcohol and drug addiction problem, it also has a very strong, if somewhat understated recovery community,” he says.
“It seems the city and our communities are aware of the problems, but less of the solutions.
“As a person in long-term recovery, I felt really moved to find a way to share so many positive stories and so much good information, in an accessible and enjoyable context.”
The South African College Of Applied Psychology is a festival partner.
Its chief executive Lance Katz says the festival films are “success stories of ordinary heroes (showing) that addiction can be beaten.”
“It’s a catalyst for positive change. Film is an extremely powerful edutainment medium to share the trials and tribulations of real life people who have struggled with addiction,” says Katz.
“This festival draws the spotlight on the psychosocial causes and effects of addiction and helps to destigmatise it.”
The festival, held during International Recovery Month in September, will run simultaneously in Johannesburg.
Organisers will also host the debut Cape Town Recovery Walk and The Sober & Sexy Photographic exhibition in the city.
The South African Recovery Film Festival runs at the Labia cinema on Orange Street in Gardens from September 24 to 27. Its line-up includes some of the films listed below.
CHET BAKER – LET’S GET LOST
A penetrating Oscar-nominated documentary on the life of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker (1929-1988). In-depth interviews with Baker’s friends and co-workers paint a portrait of a troubled genius, whose drug addiction and womanizing gradually eroded his talent.
NO TIME TO THINK
This independent documentary focuses on the problem of technology addiction – a concern that has, in recent years, drawn considerable attention from media outlets, scientific research and, most significantly, parents of children and young adults who use technology for social contact and education.
OF TWO MINDS
Eschewing medical explanations and expert opinions, this film examines the experience of bipolar disorder through firsthand testimony from three people coping with it in varying ways.
Despite clichés that musicians are show-offs, many (regardless of talent) fear playing to an audience on stage. Symptoms can include anxiety and hyper-alertness days before, then vomiting, diarrhea, irritability, mood swings, tremors and heart palpitations on the day itself.
This film follows 10 musicians all with substance problems as they struggle to overcome their demons whilst preparing to play a very special concert.
This film takes on the global economy and human toll of the ‘war’ on cocaine. From the farmers in Bolivia who grow coca leaves as their livelihood to Ecuadorian single mothers who are drug mules out of crippling poverty to the violence of the Mexican trafficking trade where thousands die every year, the film explores the international network of violence, imprisonment, poverty, and addiction that the drug causes in it’s wake.
China is the first country to label “Internet addiction” a clinical disorder. With extraordinary intimacy, Web Junkie investigates a Beijing rehab center where Chinese teenagers are deprogrammed, focusing on three teens, their parents and the health professionals determined to help them kick their habit.
THE RUSSELL BRAND DOUBLE BILL
Ten years ago Russell Brand was addicted to heroin, his career was unraveling and he was told he may only have six months to live. The story of how he battled to stay clean of drugs is at the heart of “From Addiction To Recovery”.
The second film “End The War On Drugs” takes the debate to the international stage questioning policy makers and opinion formers, examines success stories like the “Portuguese model”, and more controversial solutions across Europe whilst continuing the thread of personal stories developed in the first documentary.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
The Cape’s Muslim history and culture will be the focus of a Heritage Day tour next week when the national holiday coincides with Eid ul-Adha, an annual Islamic festival.
Eid ul-Adha marks the pilgrimage that Muslims are obliged to make to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at least once in a lifetime if they are by the financial and physical means.
And every year on September 24, which marks national Heritage Day, locals are encouraged to learn about each other’s cultures.
Kate Crane Briggs, a tour guide originally from England, has initiated a tour to explore Islamic heritage in the Cape on Eid ul-Adha.
Along with Bo-Kaap locals, she will take her tour group to a mosque and also indulge in Cape Malay cuisine.
Crane Briggs, who is married to a South African, says she has a “passion for Western Cape culture” and organising tours is her way of sharing it with others.
“I have been curating culture related experiences in Cape Town for four years. On one of my tours, I met a woman who has lived in the city for 60 years but had never been to Bo-Kaap,” says Crane Briggs.
“She said she really wanted to find out about Bo-Kaap. So I used my network to find locals that I could work with on a tour.
“I found a woman who does cooking demonstrations for tourists. There are people who come from around the world for her demonstrations.”
Crane Briggs says her Heritage Day itinerary is an example of her attempt to offer “more than just a tour”.
“We go to places that are usually inaccessible. It will be a particularly special day in Bo-Kaap,” she says.
On the day, Crain Briggs will start her tour at the Bo-Kaap museum on Wale Street. The tour will then pass through Islamic heritage sites and community projects.
A three course Cape Malay lunch at the home of Faldela Tolker will round up the tour.
Tolker’s cooking demonstrations have a five-star rating from the travel website TripAdvisor, while the Huffington Post website listed it as a ‘must-do’ when visiting Cape Town.
The Heritage Day tour guide will be Mohammed Groenewald, a Bo-Kaap activist with a “passion for promoting religious harmony”.
Groenewald will “share stories about the first political prisoners of the Cape and the location of the first Friday secret prayer meetings”.
“We’ll also hear his views on gentrification of the area, women in Islamic culture and local politics. He’ll point out features which are easy to miss, such as the murals created with Iranian artist Nasser Palangi,” says Crain Briggs.
Groenewald hopes the Heritage Day tour would “change mindsets”.
“If you look at religion from a cultural perspective, it has a great impact. This tour could have an impact on the way Muslims are looked at,” he says.
“It is important to have these events so that people are exposed to each other. Without this, people would always think negatively of others.”
Groenewald says local Muslims need to explore their heritage and culture more too.
He says usually foreign tourists visit Bo-Kaap while locals do not explore it as a site where the country’s first Muslim community was established.
“Islamic heritage dates back over 300 years in the Cape. It always has been a history of struggle. This community survived great struggles,” says Groenewald.
“We will look at the religious aspect, but also the social justice and cultural perspective. We will discuss colonisation and how Muslims fought against it even before being exiled from Indonesia to the Cape.
“We will also talk about the hajj, or pilgrimage, which is also about a struggle.”
Groenewald adds that Muslims in Cape Town have a “unique expression of Islam”.
“We have various celebrations, a unique culture and music in the Cape. Our forefathers came from the Far East and eastern Africa,” he adds.
“A lot of people are not exposed to the Islamic heritage of South Africa. Heritage Day is a good opportunity to look at each other’s cultures. How much do we know about somebody else’s heritage, even the people that we work with everyday?
“We need to start to nurture that if we want to build an inclusive South Africa. Why not greet someone in their language?”
Crain Briggs says through her tours she has learned more about the local Muslim community in Bo-Kaap.
“They have a very strong identity, even though there has been gentrification in Bo-Kaap. Some of the people who come on the tour are foreigners who have bought property in the area,” she says.
“We share with them the history and the phenomenal stories of the first Muslims in the Cape. They were political prisoners. They were extremely intelligent.
“One of them memorised the entire Qur’an. We share their stories and also those of families who still live with their traditions in Bo-Kaap.”
Crain Briggs says she has also organised tours in Bo-Kaap during Ramadaan, the Islamic month of fasting.
“That’s when we learned a lot about this community’s generosity. I have been really humbled by that,” she says.
“I love their family and community values. And this tour is a small way of bringing awareness of that.”
For more information of the Bo-Kaap tour on Heritage day contact Crain Briggs on firstname.lastname@example.org or 072-377-8014.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
While government officials are still trying to bring home South Africans who recently fled Islamic State (IS) territories in Syria, locals are struggling to understand the allure of this global terror group.
Rami Khouri, a Beirut-based academic and writer currently in South Africa, will to this end unpack some of his own research on IS at a public talk in Johannesburg on Monday.
Khouri will be the guest speaker at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection’s fourth annual lecture at Wits University. His speech topic is ‘Will the guns ever fall silent in the Middle East? Prospects for peace, democracy and development’.
Khouri says IS has attracted mainly Arab citizens who are deeply discontented with their governments.
He says worldwide there are “different levels of interaction” with the IS though.
“Somebody can join and become a fighter or work in the bureaucracy. Somebody could also go and live there and be a baker or farmer,” says Khouri.
“There are a lot of people who look positively on IS. It is mainly for discontented Arabs. It has people from other countries, but these are very small numbers.
“And most of the people who go from overseas to live in IS are either young people who are typically not sure of what they want in life or have unhappy homes.
“They are confused about their identities. This is very typical of European countries where young Muslims feel they don’t belong.”
Khouri adds: “They have a problem in their life and they see this as an escape.”
IS has meanwhile sold itself to these people as a movement that aims to establish a version of Islam across parts of Iraq and Syria that relies on the religion’s early teachings.
Khouri argues, as have other Muslim leaders worldwide, that it is “not a real manifestation of Islam”.
“It is an extremist political movement which uses Islam. They are not a religions movement,” says Khouri.
“They are a reactionary movement to all the problems of the Arab world. And it was Arabs in Syria and Iraq mostly who created it. Later other people joined.”
Khouri says the Arab world is filled with “difficult social and political realities” from which people want to escape.
“IS for them is the immediate all-encompassing solution. If somebody goes to IS and embraces the whole philosophy, it offers them solutions,” says Khouri.
“It gives you a job, income and order where there is disorder. It gives you a purpose in life and immediate companionship. It gives you bread and electricity every day. Things you might not be getting.”
Weekend Argus has previously reported of IS propaganda methods to lure young woman with the promise of a spouse and jobs that would serve humanitarian causes.
Khouri says the promise is that people will “live in a more equitable and caring society”.
“People who go there don’t know how violent IS really is,” sayd Khouri.
When someone would discover its violent nature, Khouri says they would be told by IS of various “literal interpretations of the Qur’an to justifying their violence”.
“If you buy into the whole package then using these harsh methods, against other Muslims in most cases, then you see IS as using this hard set of actions to build a perfect Muslim society,” says Khouri.
“Therefore violence in the service of Gods’ will is seen as justified and compelling.”
Khouri adds: “The people who run IS are not learned theologians. They don’t know Islam very well. They are politicised and they use Islam.”
Gulf countries or wealthy people in these lands are apparently funding IS, according to Khouri, in a bid to hang on to power. IS is a means of squashing opposition in the Arab world, he says.
“They benefit from wealthy people or governments in Gulf states. They also have their own revenues from selling oil,” says Khouri.
“They seem to have enough money to run their state but they are getting into trouble now. They’re simply unable to keep raising the same income from selling oil.”
Khouri says military action is needed to bring them down though. He says Arab leaders are not united though and would not be able to take this step immediately.
SOUTH AFRICANS LEAVE ISLAMIC STATE
A lawyer for the South Africans who returned earlier this month from Islamic State (IS) controlled parts of Syria says they are “normalising”.
Yousha Tayob says the families – 11 people in total – are in Gauteng and staying with relatives. They were out of the country for about five months, he said.
“It’s been a week since they are home and they are getting back into their lives. They are staying with family to regularise (sic),” said Tayob.
State security officials said the families had allegedly been part of IS, but Tayob said his clients had been working in Syria as aid workers.
State security officials interrogated them at OR Tambo International airport when they arrived back home on September 11.
“Other than the airport questioning, nobody has contacted them or me,” said Tayob.
He said he was still working on paperwork to ensure that five remaining South Africans who fled with this group return home too.
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Unlike his hit song Happy suggests, American singer Pharrell Williams should be afraid, warned protesters yesterday after a court ruled that thousands of them could gather outside his concert tomorrow (MONDAY).
Williams is being flown to South African by local retailer Woolworths, which he collaborates with on a number of products sold at its stores.
But protesters from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa, which has targeted Woolworths for selling Israeli goods, are not happy with Williams.
They wanted him to cancel his partnership with Woolworths and as a result plan to protest outside his concert at GrandWest Arena in Goodwood tomorrow night.
City of Cape Town officials had granted them the right to protest but said only 150 could gather at the GrandWest exit.
BDS took the matter to the Western Cape High Court, requesting an increase to 16,000 protesters as well as the right to protest at the GrandWest entrance.
The court’s judge Siraj Desai yesterday ruled the city had acted unconstitutionally by limiting protest numbers.
“It is inconsistent with the constitution and invalid,” said Desai.
“The protest gathering shall be limited to 16,000 participants, including marshals… The City of Cape Town is to pay the costs of the applicant (BDS).”
Desai granted protesters the right to gather at the GrandWest entrance.
After the court adjourned, BDS lawyer Kevin Kiewitz yesterday accused the city of trying to “stifle freedom of expression”.
He said city officials intentionally wanted the protest at the exit where it “would have had no impact… Nobody would see it”.
BDS protesters won the right to station themselves from the traffic light where cars drive towards the GrandWest entrance as well as just past it on the venue’s premises.
BDS national spokesperson Kwara Kekana said they wanted to raise awareness about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
“We are encouraging everybody to come,” she said.
Kekana added: “It’s very worrying that the city would go out of its way to put the interest of business above that of people. It should have promoted constitutional rights.”
Anti-corruption campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne was also at the court yesterday and said the city’s action was “totally irrational”.
“There is a huge amount of business pressure on governments. The question is who is funding the Democratic Alliance (which runs the city),” he claimed.
“Business is funding this party. Woolworths and Sun International, which owns GrandWest, are presumably part of it. We need political parties to disclose their funders.”
Crawford-Browne said Williams should “cancel his South African tour because he was fraudulently hoodwinked by Woolworths in its effort to blunt the BDS campaign”.
“Williams now urgently needs to do some damage control to his international reputation,” said Crawford-Browne.
Bram Hanekom, national committee member of the Young Communist League of South Africa, said as he exited the court that protesters were “angry at Pharrell for trying to stop us from expressing ourselves”.
“Palestinian protesters will go ahead in full force. Pharrell must be afraid,” said Hanekom.
“Woolworths is turning Pharrell into a global ambassador for the BDS campaign’s cultural boycott of Israel.
“Wherever he goes now, human rights protesters will know he supports Israel, until he apologises for going to perform there. And for coming to South Africa to promote Woolworths.”
Hanekom added: “He is going to become the skunk of the music world.”