Campaign launched to promote local history

Lynn Abrahams, the curator of the Aluta Continua exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge, with Irma Titus. The visit to the museum formed part of the launch of The Purple House’s Making History research campaign.

A Bonteheuwel-based internet cafe and research hub has launched a campaign to promote local history across the Cape Flats.

The hub, called The Purple House, is the brainchild of Irma Titus.

Ms Titus invited people from areas across the Cape Flats to share their stories in a multimedia project that will culminate in a perpetual calendar. She hopes this will be used as an educational resource for promoting local memory and history, while “co-creating access to people’s stories”. The campaign is called Making History.

Said Ms Titus: “Too often, our youth learn about history which they feel no connection with. The Making History project is an opportunity to write ourselves back into history and restore our peoples’ sense of belonging in the grand narratives of South Africa. Developing a perpetual calendar with the timeless theme of ‘the purple shall govern’, is part of The Purple House’s core objective to remind Cape Flats communities of their unequivocal power when united in self-determination.”

The theme, “the purple shall govern”, has a historical context, Ms Titus explained.

“‘The purple shall govern’ took on its powerful meaning within the four days leading up to the elections of South Africa’s racially segregated parliament after the Purple Rain March in Cape Town on September 2, 1989.

“Thousands of anti-apartheid protesters supporting the United Democratic Front (UDF) were sprayed with purple dye from police cannons. People from different walks of life poured into the city in an attempt to march on South Africa’s Parliament registering their discontent with the apartheid system.

“Police not only sprayed the peaceful protesters with purple dye but tear gas too. The Purple Rain March resulted in more than 500 people arrested, among them Dr Allan Boesak, UCT academic Dr Charles Villa-Vicencio, Western Cape Council of Churches official Reverend Pierre van den Heever, lawyer Essa Moosa, and 52 journalists.

“The perpetual calendar will feature important dates like the state of emergency, the resistance movements of the 1980s, like the Purple Rain March, including the brutal death of freedom fighters like Ashley Kriel, Anton Fransch, Coline Williams, and Robbie Waterwitch, to name a few.

“As a perpetual calendar, it will also be a historical demonstration of organising as each month is themed with a community sector.”

The calendar will showcase the various roles of different sectors of society, how activists used sectors to build people’s power, bringing together people and places from various walks of life.

“Sites of memory have become sites of struggle as we fight to preserve our history, tell our stories and insist on remembering while guarding against elements of erasure – celebrating our triumph over adversities. Bonteheuwel Freedom Square is but one such example, declared a provincial heritage site in March 2021, but what now?” she asked.

For more information, or to participate in the research project, contact Ms Titus at 084 857 2372.