CEO’s 2021 Easter Message

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Good Day Castle Friends

I bring you this update with a healthy mixture of emotions:  On the one hand, there is optimism that the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines will steer us towards some form of normality, especially in our tourism and hospitality sector, which is showing moderate signs of recovery.  On the other hand, the structural, political, and other weaknesses in the global vaccination roll-out regimes coupled with talks of a third wave are dampening our spirits.  But let us never despair: humanity faced and overcame even the worst trials and tribulations.


President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Defence
& Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula's,
visit to the Castle of Good Hope on 21 February 2021.

Human Rights Month 2021

As we approach Human Rights Day in South Africa (21 March), we are reminded of the sacrifices of millions of women, men, and children to improve others' rights.  Our Constitution has a special section, the Bill of Rights, focusing on our inalienable rights like freedom of expression, movement, religion, association and many others. But we need to be brutally frank with ourselves: how much did we (you and I) do to ensure that these rights are equitably and fairly applied to all 58 million inhabitants of our beautiful land?

Here at South Africa's Castle of Good Hope, I must remind you of the human rights atrocities committed in the name of past oppressive systems like colonialism, slavery, and apartheid; the legacies still clearly visible in towns and townships surrounding us.

Easter Season 2021: Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay alive.

The Easter holiday season, traditionally a family affair was severely disrupted by the pandemic last year.  It is up to every responsible citizen to avoid the calamity this year.  Third-wave or not, let us practice the health and safety protocols as a matter of principle and save lives.  We owe it to humanity in this month of human rights.

When you visit the Castle, the permanent and temporary exhibitions and collections that carry the coming season's messages are at your disposal.  The William Fehr, Secunde House, Military Museum, Cape Muslim Heritage Art, Ceramic, Posterity, and Rhino poaching exhibitions echo the greed, selfishness, and general disrespect for the other.  But these exhibitions also carry stories of resilience, heroism, and hope – vital ingredients required during today's trying times.  Please engage with the collections and feedback your invaluable comments. They mean a lot to us.

Opening Soon: The Camissa Museum at the Castle

We are currently putting the final touches on arguably one of the most significant permanent exhibitions in decades, the Camissa Museum. The following excerpt from the Camissa Prospectus (2020) sums up the project:

"The Camissa Project's objectives are to inform all South African communities about history and heritage they know little about because unhealthy friction and even violence have come to dominate relations between Camissa Africans and other African communities. In some ways, this is a peace-building project as much as it is about the restoration of memory, leading to restorative justice. Teachers and school pupils, students, and the general public will find the museum exhibition and challenges exposed to be fascinating and enhance inter-community discourse in South Africa. It will also contribute to healing and finding African unity. It will also expose white South Africans to many contradictions within their history of the Cape and South Africa and contribute to understanding and healing. For the tourist community, for the first time, they may better understand the history and peopling of the Cape."

I am indeed looking forward to the opening of this virtual museum in the next month or so. Watch this space.

Stay safe, healthy, and hopeful.

Castle Greetings...

Chief Executive - Castle Control Board

 

South African Museums Association

Recommended Norms & Standards
For The Operating of Museums
During COVID-19

08 July 2020

- Click here to view the document -

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).

April 2021
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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.

 

Please note that the Key Ceremony, Cannon Firing & Guided Tour activities have been suspended due to COVID-19 protocols at this time.

 

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