Heritage project hosts its first AGM

Reverend Terry Lester chaired the meeting.

The Constantia Heritage and Education Project (CHEP) is searching for a centre in the Constantia Valley from which it can teach youth skills development.

This according to Reverend Terry Lester, head of the NPO’s committee, who was speaking at its first annual general meeting, which was held on Saturday May 4 at Groot Constantia.

He said the organisation needed funding to move the project into its next phase.

CHEP was launched on Heritage Day, September 24, in 2016. It began with a spontaneous memory walk initiated by a group of former and current Constantia residents who were forcibly removed from their homes under the Group Areas Act.

Last year, the Heritage Day walk was attended by about 450 people who met at High Constantia and walked along Brounger Lane to Strawberry Lane.

Along the way, people rested and some spoke about their past from their former homes or places of memory (“Proud stand for heritage,” Bulletin September 27, 2018).

At the meeting on Saturday, Mr Lester said many former Constantia residents were now living in communities of Parkwood, Lavender Hill and Grassy Park.

“Most of the people in Constantia were farmers so we hope to use CHEP to empower young people by teaching communal farming and food sovereignty so that they’re able to provide for themselves and their families. I believe in having a place where young people can come and live and learn a new way of life,” said Mr Lester.

He said they had already begun interviews with former Constantia community members to add to CHEP’s archive of history.

The centre would be used as a collection place for this data of memories from past residents who were moved from the area.

Mr Lester, who is the priest at Christ Church, was 5 years old when he and his family were removed from their Constantia home.

Others at the meeting were Moses and Helen Jaftha, who lived in Strawberry Lane, Virginia Appollis from Violet Lane, Julia Grey and Ellen Deane from Pagasvlei.

Other committee members, Lisle Jaftha, Ernestine Deane, Claire-Anne Lester and Zaid Rowe, are the children of members of the former Constantia community.

“As the next generation we see the value in creating an interactive digital oral history archive for our children so that they may understand their family within the broader context of social history,” said Ms Lester.

As the committee introduced themselves emotions were high.

Moses “Moos” Jaftha recounted leaving animals behind when his family was forced to move – their chickens, dogs and pigs (“Don’t steal my flowers, pleads Moses,” Bulletin, March 21).

Ms Deane said the forced removals had scarred many lives. “It’s a story of collective pain and there is strength in numbers. We should connect with as many people as possible and share our collective experience.”

CHEP’s next public event will be the Heritage Day walk, which will take place at Groot Constantia on Tuesday September 24. The event is open to all to attend. For further details email info@constantiaheritage.org.za, or WhatsApp Claire Lester at 078198 1156.