Play unpacks Cape Town castle’s ugly past

(This article was published on 21 May 2016 in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper published by Independent Media in Cape Town, Western Cape province.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Confronting the Cape’s history of conflict, a local writer-director has produced a play she believes will help South Africans reconcile.

Kim Cloete, using the Castle of Good Hope as a setting, has researched and gathered various voices to tell a story that starts before the arrival of Dutch settlers.

Cloete’s play has a lengthy title: Ausi Ama – Net toe jy dink dis klaar – Just when you thought it was over.


HISTORICAL TALE: A new play about the history of the Castle of Good Hope will have its premiere today. One of the play’s cast members Bradley van Sitters has worked to revive the language and history of the Khoi and San people with workshops at the Castle. Picture Supplied

It premieres at the Castle today and the play’s Dreamerschild Production team plans to stage it elsewhere in future.

Cloete said the play starts with the story of the Khoi and San people, the country’s indigenous population, almost wiped out by colonisation.

Working on the play ensured she became “a bit of a wreck”, she admitted.

“I found myself deeply traumatised by having to uncover and dig up parts of history that I wasn’t even aware of. That was a very gruesome time.”

During rehearsals, “when the cast had to do certain scenes, you walk away and you are troubled”.

“I did a lot of digging in archives. I spoke to people who know the history and it’s a very dark history,” said Cloete.

“This play is not a general history piece, but specially focuses on the events that happened at the castle. It contains a lot of omitted history.”

The castle’s board and the Defence and Military Veterans Department commissioned her, she said, to address the mainstream narrative that has excluded peripheral voices from archives.

“The Khoi and San have been disenfranchised. Very little was also recorded of women in the past. It was very patriarchal and it was men and their wars,” said Cloete.

“I have used history but also took creative licence with monologues of the characters. This is my personal embodiment of that time.

“It is time we accepted what really happened, without pointing fingers.”



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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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