Western Cape, Simon’s Town 1967

Rising out of the ashes like a Phoenix

“Fly eagle fly; you belong not to the earth, but to the sky…” – Father Bob Commin

The thoughts, feelings and ultimate anguish of people who were forcibly removed under the Group Areas Act from their beloved Simon’s Town close to Cape Town during the Apartheid years were relived in a Time Travel back to 1967 at the St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church.

The role of the church in supporting those who were eventually moved was highlighted as the Phoenix Group, comprised of elderly victims of the inhumane removals, shared their experiences with learners from the nearby Simon’s Town High School. Giving life to
the school curriculum participants engaged with each other in an attempt to address the challenges faced at the tumultuous times. As a lesson in democracy, social cohesion and nation building the former residents of Simon’s Town painted a vivid picture of the trials and tribulations they experienced during their lives.

Of course the Time Travel was really about today and served as a demonstration of how people could stand together in difficult times and support each other while making collective decisions about their own future. It also showed that unjust laws forced upon people must never be tolerated. Democracy and democratic values should be cherished and basic human rights of all people should be protected.

The Simon’s Town Museum and High School, Phoenix Group, and the St Francis Church should be commended with the brave initiative to preserve the memories and heritage of a disowned and displaced community. Bridging Ages Western Cape provided support to the participating organisations.

Louis Marais, Bridging Ages Western Cape, South Africa