24 March 2008

Durban Holocaust Centre opened

Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Durban now has its own place of remembrance for them. The Durban Holocaust Centre, housed at the Durban Jewish Centre in Old Fort Road, was recently opened. One of the guest speakers was a local resident who survived the holocaust, Jack Puterman. The centre was designed by Linda Bester, who also designed the Cape Town Holocaust Centre. It cost more than R1-million and was financed by the local Jewish community. Mary Kluk, president of the Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry, came up with the idea. Visitors can trace the rise of the Third Reich propaganda machine, the labour, concentration and the death camps. A replica gas chamber was recreated. The centre is awaiting permission from Anne Frank House in Holland for a replica of the bedroom where she hid. A Garden of Remembrance contains six fountains - one for each of the million Jews killed. For more info, contact Maureen at 031-368-6833.

De la Rey death mask

A death mask of Afrikaner nationalist General Koos de la Rey was recently revealed in public in Houghton, Johannesburg. DNA tests by Unistel Medical Laboratories confirmed that the plaster of Paris mask belonged to the Anglo-Boer War hero. The mask is believed to be the only one of its kind ever found in Africa. Dutch-born sculptor Anton van Wouw made the death mask just a few hours after the General was shot in 1914. He later used the mask as a model for his busts of De la Rey. After Van Wouw's death, the mask was bought on auction by one of his friends who kept it until August 2007, when the publication of a book on De la Rey, which contains a photo of the mask, led to its discovery. The book, De la Rey: ’n Stryd vir vryheid, was written by Prof. Andries Raath. Strands of De la Rey's beard, attached to the mask, were matched with blood taken from his great-grandson, Jacques de la Rey. Death masks were common in the 18th and 19th centuries. Other famous figures who left death masks include Napoleon Bonaparte, William Shakespeare and Mary Tudor.

Save the Sea Point promenade

The Sea Point promenade is under threat and a campaign to save it from being disfigured by a major development on both sides of the pavilion and its swimming pools, is underway. Since its earliest days, Capetonians and visitors have enjoyed walking along the promenade, children have played on the swings and roundabouts, families have had picnics on the lawns, and impromptu games of soccer and volleyball have been played here. Since the carousel was demolished, dancers have made use of the space, and musicians have played through the gorgeous sunsets. People have watched for the new moon that signals the end of Ramadan. The Sea Point promenade is part of Cape Town's character. Now there is a possibility that a hotel and shopping mall will be built on a part of it, on the seaward side of the street. The Seafront for All (Seafa) campaign is collecting signatures for a petition. Help save the Sea Point promenade.

Afrikaans language museum

The Afrikaans language has its own private museum. The Huis vir Afrikaanse poësie (hAp) in Capital Park, Pretoria, is being set up as a private museum by Charl Pretorius. It will open to the public in July. The history of the language, alongside that of Namakwa-Afrikaans, Bo-Kaap-Afrikaans, Oranjerivier-Afrikaans and other dialects, will be on display. The museum is looking for any donations of Afrikaans historical items.

Durban Documentation Centre closed

Kwazulu-Natal’s MEC for Art, Culture and Tourism, Weziwe Thusi, will hold a public hearing on 15 April to decide on the future of historic Indian artefacts that were held by the Durban Documentation Centre. The centre, which housed material relating to the history of Indians in South Africa, was closed down in January. The centre was home to musical instruments, clothing, documents, books and photographs, some dating back to the 1800s. The hearing will take place at the Protea Edward Hotel in Durban. Interested parties have been asked to file submissions by 14 April. A crisis committee, headed by Juggie Pather, has been trying to get the material transferred to a venue in Chatsworth, so far unsuccessfully.

Rare Africana books on auction

Rare Africana books will go on auction in London at Bonhams on 01-02 April. The auction includes early grammar books in Nama, Sotho, Xhosa and Zulu. The collection belonged to an English couple, John and Monica Lawson. Many of the books were written by early missionaries and published in Britain. A very rare copy of Dr. Wilhelm Bleek's "Uber den Ursprung der Sprache", published in Cape Town in 1867, forms part of the auction. Dr. Bleek is famous for the San work he undertook with his sister-in-law, Lucy Lloyd. A Nama textbook written by Hans Christian Knudsen and published in Cape Town in 1845, is also on auction.

Mandela Family Museum renovations

Former President Nelson Mandela's house in Orlando West, Soweto, will undergo renovations to restore it to its original state, according to the Soweto Heritage Trust. The house, now called the Mandela Family Museum, at 8115 Ngakane Street, will be closed until November while work is in progress. Mandela moved into the four-roomed house in 1946 with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase. After their divorce in 1957, she moved out. When Mandela married Winnie Madikizela in 1958, she moved in and while he was imprisoned on Robben Island, she lived there with their daughters, Zeni and Zindzi. When the couple divorced in 1996, Mandela registered the house in his name and handed it to the Soweto Heritage Trust. As part of the renovations, a visitor's centre will be built on the property, which will also depict Soweto's history. A curio shop will also be opened.

Langenhoven Arts and Culture Centre

Prof. Guillaume Brümmer, Cornelis Jacobus Langenhoven's only grandson, attended the recent opening of the Langenhoven Arts and Culture Centre at Arbeidsgenot in Oudtshoorn. Arbeidsgenot was Langenhoven's last residence. The Langenhoven Memorial Trust was established in 1951 after Vroutjie (Langenhoven's wife, Magdalena Maria) left Arbeidsgenot to the country as an arts and culture centre. Langenhoven was the author of Die Stem van Suid-Afrika. Future plans include a statue of Langenhoven and Enoch Sontonga (authour of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika) being erected at the centre. The two were born in the same year, 1873. Their compositions make up South Africa's national anthem.