Awakening memories of a time before removals

Some of the crowd who attended the memorial walk in Constantia on Heritage Day last year.

On a warm spring morning of September 24 last year – Heritage Day – the Constantia Heritage and Education Project launched with its first community event.

It was a walk from just behind Peddlars, the site of “Noppies se Winkel, into Spaanschemat River Road and down Strawberry Lane, stopping at the Koebus and “Malan se Skool” where a former teacher at the school, Aunty Girty Malan addressed the crowd, at the age of 100. The last stop on the pilgrimage was the commemorative plaque on Strawberry Lane, laid on Heritage Day

Novelist William Faulkner wrote: “The past is not dead. It is not even past.” The words rung true when more than 100 people – families evicted under the Group Areas Act of 1950, as well as current residents and community members – joined the memorial walk.

They celebrated and mourned the vibrant community that once thrived in the Constantia Valley, claiming a sense of dignity for that past which seemed long lost; and awakening stories and memories that are far from dead.

The Constantia Heritage and Education Project (CHEP) is an ongoing initiative led by a committee of former and current residents with a common goal of keeping alive the stories and strengthening that which connects us as citizens.

It sends an open call to attend a community meeting at Christ Church Constantia on Saturday March 11 at 2.30pm.

“The purpose of the meeting is
to connect as a community, to consider and decide on the shape and scope of the organisation going forward,” says the project’s founder,
the Venerable Terry Lester.

“Our aim is to create a space where former
and current residents of Constantia can meet and get to know each
other, where we can share our
stories and build understanding and support as we find ways to address and redress our divided and fractured past.”

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Claire-Anne Lester, a committee member of the CHEP, can be contacted on;
Twitter Handle @Claire_lest