HERITAGE WEEK 2020 AT THE CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE 

 The 354-year old Castle of Good Hope, after months of forced closure and relative inaction, restarts its return to ‘normality’ with an array of exciting programs and activities.

“September is Heritage and Tourism Month. It thus fits that one of South Africa’s oldest and most imminent heritage-tourism institutions leads the way to mark this important period. Fittingly, the theme for Tourism Month is “Tourism: Building Peace! Fostering Knowledge while the theme for Heritage Month is “Celebrating South Africa’s living human treasures”. We are also very fortunate to use 22 September, World Rhino Day, (which is also the official beginning of Spring in the southern hemisphere), to re-open the Castle with the launch of a harrowing art exhibition coming to the Castle later this year” says Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of the Castle Control Board.

Herewith some detail of an exciting Heritage Week at the Castle:

22 SEPTEMBER:
WORLD RHINO DAY

This Rhino art exhibition, confirmed to open in the first week of December 2020 officially, tells the story, through art, of an artist’s encounters with rhinos wounded by the greed and cruelty of humans.  Monique van Deventer regularly accompanies her husband, Dr Ryan van Deventer, who is a wildlife veterinarian, on field trips in KZN.  As an artist, Monique was shocked to see the suffering and sometimes death of these animals who are globally being poached to extinction.  Her powerful drawings and ceramic renditions of bones show five specific rhinos who have been affected by this cruelty.  Her sensitive “portraits” bring home the fact that these are sentient beings.

“The exhibition, curated by Carol Brown who is known for her exhibitions and research in art through activism and social concerns, is intended to bring this important issue to the forefront through Monique’s drawings, sculptures and photographs (see attachment). These will be shown in the 354-year-old historic stable in the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, from mid-December 2020.  This is a joint project with Iziko Museums and the Castle Control Board. The exhibition is intended to be a voice for the ‘voiceless’ and to increase awareness of humanities disregard for and destruction of the planet before it is too late”, says curator Carol Brown.

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23 SEPTEMBER:
SPECIAL PROVINCIAL PRAYER SERVICE FOR THE VICTIMS & SURVIVORS OF COVID-19

Also on Wednesday, is a joint Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town & South African Religious Forum COVID-19 prayer service that will be held in the old Chapel in the Castle.

“COVID-19 came as an unpleasant surprise and shock to all of us.  Many South Africans have lost their lives and livelihoods. This special thanksgiving service is meant to celebrate the lives of those who have succumbed to this deadly virus.  But it is also an opportunity to thank those brave women, men and children who risk their lives in the frontline fighting this scourge. As we move into the phase of re-opening, rebuilding and picking up the pieces, we need to reflect, and thank our Creator for his mercy to those who have made it” says Bishop Templeton, national chairperson of the South African Religious Forum.

The service is scheduled to start at 10h00.

24 SEPTEMBER:
NATIONAL HERITAGE DAY & LAUNCH OF HISTORIC MUSLIM MUSEUM AT THE CASTLE

On Thursday, 24 September, access to the Castle will be FREE OF CHARGE to all South Africans and tourists.

One of the highlights of the day is the launch of a first-ever South African Muslim Heritage Museum (MHMSA).

“Over recent months, members from our community has requested a much-needed Museum for Muslims and their contributions to the South African community at large.  People in Heritage fields had ongoing meetings and eventually registered an NGO and established the MHMSA, Muslim Heritage Museum of South Africa.  It is a first of its nature in South Africa.  Treasure Yourself Magazine came on board as it is often referred to as a ‘moving Museum’ says Fadia Mohammed, spokesperson for this historic initiative.

The Board is inviting all citizens and tourists to join us in our first public event since the March COVID-19 lockdown.  Although it is a fun-day, people must take responsibility for their health and safety by following all the COVID-19 protocols.

 

Media Enquiries: Calvyn Gilfellan, +27 (0)82 3346098 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rhino Exhibition Enquiries: Ms Carol Brown (Curator) on 0837781192.

COVID-19 Prayer Service: Bishop Templeton on 0611782262.

SA Muslim Museum: Ms Fadia Mohammed on 0734781728.

General Enquiries: Mr Sonwabile Maxebengula. +27 (0)73 751 9433 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information on individual events please call: +27 (0)21 787 1260.

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08 July 2020

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Legend Of Isandlwana Lives On

18th November 2018.

 

Zulu King Cetshwayo had been pushed into a war that he never wanted with England. Yet, the first battle of that conflict had the unlikeliest of outcomes, writes Dougie Oakes.

Cape Town – The mood of the congregation was sombre as Bishop John William Colenso stepped up to the pulpit of the Anglican Church in Bishopstowe in the colony of Natal – and started speaking…

Those who expected a sermon full of fire and brimstone were wrong. There were no calls for retribution against the Zulu king, Cetshwayo. There was no finger-pointing (at the Zulu people). And there were no predictions of doom and gloom.

There were deep expressions of sorrow, of course – but what Colenso said was peppered with nuggets of good sense: “We ourselves have lost very many precious lives, and widows and orphans, parents, brothers, sisters, friends are mourning bitterly their sad bereavements,” he said. “But are there no griefs – no relatives that mourn their dead – in Zululand? And shall we kill 10 000 more to avenge the losses of that dreadful day?”

It was March 1879 – and a mixture of anguish and anger was sweeping through the white communities of Natal.

Just a few weeks earlier, Cetshwayo had been pushed into a war that he never wanted with England. Yet, the first battle of that conflict, on January 22, 1879, on a hillside near a towering rock known to local people as Isandlwana, had the unlikeliest of outcomes…

Isandlwana was aptly described as a fight in which “a proletariat army from the world’s foremost capitalist nation was defeated by a part-time force of peasant farmers in a short, bloody and eventually inconclusive battle that rocked the British Empire to its core”.

“The Zulus attacked the red-coated British because they feared for their land and their independence. The British soldiers, drawn from the very poorest level of the working classes, fought back because they had been lured, like Private Moss from Wales, to take the Queen’s shilling’.”

It was a contest between spear and the most modern weaponry of the day, but thanks to a mixture of British arrogance, stupidity and bad planning, it was those who fought with spears who were victorious.

More than 1 500 redcoats, and an even greater number of Zulu fighters, died in the battle.

Cetshwayo was no one’s fool. It had taken a bruising battle – which had later escalated into a civil war – against his brother, Mbuyazi, for him to become the main contender to succeed his father, Mpande, as monarch of the Zulu kingdom.

When he became king in 1872, following the death of Mpande, he was keen to build a good relationship with the British administration in Natal. But he refused to be told how to run his kingdom. He needed to tread a fine line, and in this he succeeded admirably.

But then diamonds were discovered – and matters changed inexorably.

British colonial secretary Lord Carnarvon decided the best way to administer a southern Africa with far greater economic possibilities, but with a growing need for cheap labour, was via “confederation”.

By this he meant a region in which Briton, Boer and every African chiefdom would operate with some independence, under the control of England.

Although it was obvious that Cetshwayo would never agree to such an arrangement, Lord Carnarvon decided that there were many ways to skin a cat.

He left it to his most enthusiastic supporter, his Natal wheeler-dealer, Theophilus Shepstone, to decide how – and when – to bring this about.

Shepstone opted for the tried-and-tested: pick a fight with Cetshwayo and defeat him, using superior weaponry.

The British High Commissioner, Sir Henry Bartle Frere, set the ball rolling by pretending a number of minor border incidents were major threats to the security of Natal. The tipping point came when the sons of a Zulu chief seized two of their father’s adulterous wives in Natal, dragged them into Zululand, and killed them.

Cetshwayo was given an ultimatum: hand over the sons, pay 500 cattle in compensation, and disband his army and his age-group system of military organisation – within 20 days.

There was no way he could comply. All he could do was insist that “the king has, however, declared, and still declares that he will not commence war, but will wait till he is actually attacked before he enters on a defensive campaign”.

In January 1879, British forces entered Zululand – and on January 22 came the shock of Isandlwana.

As Cetshwayo feared, Zulu losses at Isandlwana and, on the same day, at nearby Rorke’s Drift were horrific. And as the weeks passed, casualties mounted at an alarming rate, with serious losses at Kambula and Gingindlovu especially.

Then, on July 4, the redcoats attacked the royal headquarters at Ulundi, razing it and forcing Cetshwayo to flee.

On August 28, he was captured in the Ngome Forest and sent to Cape Town, where he was held at The Castle, while the Zulu kingdom was”dismembered” into 13 parts, each of which was put under the control of pliant chiefs.

A striking figure, Cetshwayo handled himself with great dignity, refusing to be regarded as a curiosity and insisting that he be given European clothes to wear while in Cape Town. Many people who saw him commented that he was not the overgrown ogre painted by colonial officials.

Although he couldn’t read and write, he displayed a remarkable grasp of local, national and international politics. In this he was assisted by Bishop Colenso and his social activist daughter, Harriette.

Cetshwayo fought with dogged persistence to win back his freedom – and the kingdom of Zululand. In this regard, his key weapon was a letter-writing campaign that drew in prominent officials and even the monarch of England, Queen Victoria.

In March 1881, in a letter written from The Castle to Sir Hercules Robinson, the governor of the Cape Colony, he wrote: “I have done you no wrong, therefore you must have some other object in view to invading my land.

“How is it,” he asked, alluding to the fact that Shepstone had backed his ascension to the Zulu throne, “that they crown me in the morning and dethrone me in the afternoon.”

Cetshwayo’s persistence earned him a trip to England to state his case.

There, he impressed as many parliamentarians and ordinary people as he did in Cape Town.

He was freed in July 1883, but his return to Natal sparked a war with his main rival, Zibhebhu. Forced to flee his territory, he sought refuge with the British Resident Commissioner in Eshowe, where he died in 1884.

Cape Times

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Latest Events

To see the latest upcoming events at the Castle of Good Hope, click on a day or the month title to display the event(s).

October 2020
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Key Ceremony

TIMES
10:00|12:00 

This showcases the unlocking of the Van der Stel entrance of the Castle of Good Hope by the ceremonial guards of the castle. It is a past practice that is still practised today.

Canon Firing

TIMES
10:00|11:00|12:00 

The firing of the signal cannon was used to indicate that a ship had been sighted at sea and to relay the message to people inside the fort. You can view the firing of an old cannon, performed by the Cannon Association of South Africa.

Guided Tours

TIMES
11:00|12:00|14:00|15:00|16:00 

Unearth the hidden history of the Castle with a guided tour led by an experienced guide. Tours operate seven days a week.

 

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