Land Act Centenary Exhibition Opens at Slave Lodge
A travelling exhibition on the occasion of the centenary of the Natives’ Land Act of 1913 opened at the Iziko Slave Lodge on Wednesday, 27 November 2013. The exhibition will be hosted at a variety of Western Cape museums over the next few months.
Although the Land Act preceded the imposition of grand apartheid in 1948, it was the first racially discriminatory law of the Union of South Africa. Dispossessing Africans of their land was the first step the government took to create a pool of low-wage migrant labour for the mines and industry.
The Act was not applied in the Cape until 1936 because Africans in the province had a qualified vote based on land ownership. However, the steady erosion of the voting rights of Africans through various apartheid laws paved the way for the implementation of the Land Act throughout South Africa.
The exhibition is briefly describes struggles around land from the first inhabitants, to their interaction with indigenous Africans, to the arrival of the European settlers. Visitors can learn more about resistance to other apartheid laws which dispossessed the majority of people of their land, e.g. the Group Areas Act. The exhibition also reminds us of the origins of the apartheid Bantustans – a legacy which continues to require redress today.
Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport Dr Ivan Meyer described the exhibition as “a place where we can find healing of 100 years of pain”. “We’ve seen the pain and now we experience the joy. There can be no healing without making peace.”
Mr Bongani Ndhlovu of Iziko Museums added the exhibition provides an opportunity to see the achievements of the past, as well as how far we’ve come. “This allows us to reflect on this meaningful cultural heritage as we build a better South Africa.”
Through the exhibition, DCAS and Iziko Museums intend to raise awareness of destructive impact of the Land Act. This will aid social inclusion by building support for land reform and other vital interventions to redress the legacy of apartheid.