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Welcome to the Sites of Memory Creative Archive - Cape Town, a space where you can find background information about the sites, read the performance texts and watch video material. This space allows you to navigate through stories from South Africa to the Netherlands, from past, present and future.


This story is about the KhoiKhoi and San people who first inhabited South Africa. We remember the resistance of the Goringhaiqua who successfully fought against the Portuguese in 1510, known as the ‘battle at Salt River’, and refused to work for the VOC,  the East India Company. It is about the people who were stolen and brought to Cape Town by the VOC. The mothers, fathers, and children were taken from Angola, Mauritius, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and other Southeast Asian countries. They built the city we know today. Their labour created the roads, their hands tilled the soil and planted farms, and trees and erected buildings.


The Slave Lodge was built in 1679. For a period of 132 years, over 9000 enslaved women, children and men were forced to live there. The so-called ‘company slaves’ were forced to do heavy labour, in the stone quarry in Bokaap, in households throughout the city, leased to farms in the Cape Colony or to work on the farm the VOC set up, called The Company's Garden. They planted and cultivated fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers. The work of their hands fed those who lived and worked in The Castle of Good hope, the VOC's. The work of their hands fed those who lived and worked in The Castle of Good hope, the VOC's headquarters. The produce was used to supply the Dutch ships.


At night, enslaved women were forced to prostitute themselves when the Slave Lodge was open to sailers, ‘free burgers’, and the VOC men. Those who resisted were severely punished. Resistance took many forms and was always present day-to-day: like breaking tools, feigning illness, staging slowdowns, and committing acts of arson and sabotage. They were freedom-seekers who fought against colonial rule or initiated uprisings. Today, their descendants still live in Cape Town.






I am afraid of the wind because she speaks to me

in a language I don't understand but feel


I am afraid of the cockroach and the bugs

the mosquitos like my blood

how they speak, fly and walk

they feel at home with me


as if they're saying

you belong to me


but I don't understand their speech


I am afraid of the dark

the thunder

the storm


this burn inside of me

is in a language that I don't speak


I am scared

and mad

I want justice for the unforgotten names

and the unnamed


I want to scream


my tears floating in the air

turn into rain

the elements speak


hear the footsteps of the cockroach

the buzz of the mosquitos

the serenity of the moth

the wind, the earth, the tree


they all speak a language 

I don't understand

but feel

Houda Bibouda



The square could have been called ‘Slave square’, because just a year after the first church, came the Slave Lodge. Freed slaves lived on the Square and in its vicinity, such as Armosyn Claasz, and Rachel van de Kaap, but also those who formed part of the households and property of their enslavers who lived on the Square.

The Groote Kerk, the first Dutch Reformed Church, was brought here by Jan van Riebeek.

Krotoa is reburied there, but her soul has not been laid to rest..


Across the street from Church Square is the location of the so-called ‘slave tree’, under which thousands of enslaved were sold, leased or auctioned to farmers and wealthy households. Because they were forbidden from entering the church, they also gathered under this same tree and in the Square



vok Februarie. en se vir daai baas

hy kan sy naam ook hou


die eerste keer toe ek oppie block staan

skryf hulle van Bengal in ie boek

maar daar waar hulle vir my gevind het

issie waar ek gebore wassie


die tweede keer oppie block

gee hulle vir my die naam Cupido

asof ek n Griekse god is

n Griekse god wat heel dag sweet vir pay wattie kom ie


die derde keer oppie block

toesit Februarie: die maand van hoë somer

hier in die plek, waar jy nooit God se stem hoor sing

in daai vervloekte wind wat ons hier gebring het


I have a name. ask me what my name is!

my mother called me, Son



Toni Giselle Stuart



In the same way that the VOC, on behalf of the Kingdom, stole people from their birth lands, they stole from the land itself. The VOC stole hundreds of seeds, saplings, and plants from across the world, and brought them back to The Netherlands. The colonisers also took their own seeds, plants, and trees and planted them in Cape Town. In the Company’s Garden stands the oldest cultivated tree, the Saffron Pear Tree, it's over 350 years old. 


The people who were forced to work the Company’s Gardens and on farms across the colony started and ended their day with the sound of the bell.  For the enslaved people, the bell was a symbol of their oppression. The overseers rang the bell to signal the start and end of the work day. The enslaved people were made to line up so a register could be taken. These same  bells were also used to signal uprisings, the sound travelling across the land, sending the message of resistance. The echoes of the bells traveled from Elsenburg Farm, The Slave Lodge, The Castle, across the waters to the sugar plantationsof Guyana, to the coffee plantations of Suriname and Ghana; from the wine farms of Cape Town to the cash crops of Indonesia. The bells ring out, to herald a new era.








Laat de waarheid los in de ruimte.

Het wereldse eigendom kent fletse strepen.


De muren huilen hier nog.

De grond wil weer terug naar het zand.


Il garas.

Luidt harder door onderdrukking.

Il miras.

Is nooit terecht gekomen.

Dus nemen ze afstand van de mens.



Groeien ze uit de huid.

Krakende kamers kruimelen de waardes tot.

Ontbrekende verhalen halen zich op.

Stekend in nalatig, smekend om wat adem om.

Vliegend tussen hemel en aarde.

Sprekend als tranen voor.

Zwijgende stemmen nemen waar.

Houden in leven.





You ask us what have we found in this city?
ask us what we have found

We could not conceive
we had to breath
When what we saw

hidden in the pages of daylight
on Church Square in this city

Filled with people with a fluent awareness to fight

because our elders have been fighting long before any fantasy fort

tried to cover and tap into the rivers running down the mountain trying to rinse the roots of this city

Our Elders keep us educated
observing how water manuverse
around the symbols of injustice installed in our social construct across from Kratoa's place


We read
so we can remove these signs polluting our perception of self
put up in the streets  built on our bones

We gather my sisters tears as at the beach
in Simons town as an offering

the messages I receive under the tablecloth in gardens
nurture my fractured path, past

I have been welcomed back by my sister and the ancestors...


Jörgen Gario ‘UNOM’


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