HWC Declaration of four new Provincial Heritage Sites in the Western Cape Province for Heritage Month 2014
In a celebration of Heritage Month 2014, Heritage Western Cape (HWC) has focussed on the declaration of four new Provincial Heritage Sites that our history and diversity. From an ancient archaeological site that holds evidence pertaining to the origins of all humans to a cultural landscape consisting of early cape vernacular architecture to a school that has overcome tremendous odds to reach excellence as well as a cathedral around which numerous protests rallied, these sites truly reflect our colourful cape.
The declaration notices for these sites will be published in a special edition of the Provincial Government Gazette on Tuesday 23 September 2014.
Diepkloof Rock Shelter
Diepkloof is also one of the few a sites which contain evidence of artistic expression. Unlike other early sites which contain limited numbers of objects with human decoration, Diepkloof has 270 intentionally engraved ostrich egg shell fragments which have been uncovered thus far. These artefacts are found within the Howiesons Poort complex, inferring the behavioural modernity of the peoples who constructed these tools.
Archaeological sites containing evidence for symbolic early behaviour dating to before 40 000BP are extremely rare globally (there are only a handful radiometrically dated archaeological sites in the world). The engraved ostrich eggshells at Diepkloof date to 60 000 BP, and so provide insight to our earliest origins as a species. This evidence supports the hypothesis that behaviourally modern humans came from Africa.
Verlorenvlei Cultural Landscape
The surviving Langhuis structures contained within the settlement are recognized as being significant and unique remnants of a once thriving hamlet located on the shores of the Verlorenvlei, which is itself regarded as one of the most important estuarine systems in the Western Cape and is recognized as being a wetland of international significance: designated as a RAMSAR site on 28 June 1991.
Harold Cressy High School
Harold Cressy High School displays significance in terms of intrinsic historical, social, environmental, cultural and political value. The school represents resistance to apartheid laws and association to public memory of forced removals, segregation and academic excellence.
The school building was designed by architect John Perry and constructed between 1933 and 1934. The school was located on the premises until 1940. In 1941 the buildings were occupied by Hewat Training College. Hewat College was the first coloured tertiary institution and provided a focus of intellectual resistance to white segregation (Bickford-Smith et al 1999:80-83). The college remained in Roeland Street until 1961.
In 1953, the school was renamed Harold Cressy High School in honour of Mr Harold Cressy who had to overcome formidable disadvantages and overwhelming odds in his pursuit of academic excellence and in his dedication to community service.
In 1966 District Six was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act and by 1982 more than 60 000 people had been relocated to the Cape Flats. During this time Harold Cressy school was under enormous pressure to move (District Six Museum, 2010). Under the leadership of Principal Victor Ritchie, the teachers, parents and students of the school resisted.
The school prides itself on its consistent record of success and stability. The heart of the school consists of its core values and code of conduct prescribes mutual trust and respect emanating from a caring, empathetic environment. The school firmly rejects any form of racism, sexism and social inequalities based on wealth and status. It rejects notions of over-rated competiveness and individualistic tendencies. These values in partnership with the huge contributions, integrity, commitment and dedication of its teachers made it possible for the school to excel and thrive even in the onslaught of adversary, an oppressive political system and depressing conditions.
An event is planned at Harold Cressy High School on Heritage Day to celebrate the declaration.
St Georges Cathedral
The St Georges Cathedral in Cape Town, built in 1901 and designed by well-known architect, Sir Herbert Baker, is significant for its role as a site for protests in the Struggle for Liberation during the 1980s against social injustices in Cape Town.
The cathedral is renowned for the political stance it has taken in the past. St George’s Cathedral is indeed recognized as a strong symbol of democracy in South Africa. This includes both the building itself, as well as the intangible heritage associated by the role different clergymen attached to the church played in this respect, hence it now also known as the “People’s Cathedral”. From the doors of St George’s Cathedral, Rev Desmond Tutu, the first black archbishop of South Africa, led numerous marches and campaigns for the formal end of apartheid.
Director: Museums, Heritage and Geograpgical Names Services
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