Reclaiming the church and reconciliation in the community, 1968 in Montagu, South Africa

On 28 February 2013, a touching Time Travel ceremony was held at the Old Dutch Reformed Mission Church in Montagu (now the Montagu Museum). The Time Travel took participants and visitors back to an important historic event in 1968, when the congregation was informed that they had to sell their church and build another church in the area designated to them by the South-African Apartheid regime; that would separate “Coloured” people from “White” people. On the day of the Time Travel, the beautiful historic building took centre-stage for a powerful reminder of a rich tradition as the emotional, yet joyful scene was re-enacted of the last Holy Communion and Church Bazaar held at the old Missionary Church.
Working together and bridging the historic divide between White and Coloured communities, elderly members from Huis Uitvlucht Old Age Home and Springroses Service Centre for the Elderly, organized everything necessary to make this Time Travel back to 1968 as authentic as possible.
Scholars from Montagu Primary and W.A.Rossouw Primary enthusiastically joined the elderly in preparations for the Time-travel, learning how to make old-fashioned gingerbeer, bake biscuits, pancakes, vetkoek, milk tart, koeksisters and lamingtons to sell at the “Church Bazaar”. They were also taught by the elderly to knit and crochet and made baskets full of old-fashioned sweets, exactly the way it used to be.
After the opening of the event by the Speaker of the Cape Winelands District Municipality; Rev. Reggie Boesak gave a touching speech on reconciliation. As so many of the elderly present, still have very clear memories of growing up with Apartheid, it was very emotional and for the children present, very informative as they realized the humiliation and loss of dignity that was suffered. The authenticity of the Time Travel were so convincing to some visitors who were unaware that it was an act, that they made enquiries  afterwards on the latest developments regarding the proposed ‘removal” of the congregation!
With approximately 275 participants and visitors at the Time Travel, this first-time event was surely a huge success as the Montagu Museum came alive. A huge thank you therefore to the Cape Winelands District Municipality, Bridging Ages SA, Kalmar Läns Museum and the delegation from Sweden who made it all possible through their financial and administrative support. It was a memorable and special event indeed!

Cheronica Lando du Preez