Remembering the old South End

Walk through past on International Museum Day with free guided tour

St Peter's Church in old South End
St Peter's Church in old South End
Image: Supplied

The ruins of St Peter’s Church in South End bear witness to the decay of what was a multiracial and vibrant old South End before the apartheid regime tore the unity out of the community in forced removals.

The church is but one of nine historical sites that stand as reminders of the history of South African communities and the legacy of apartheid laws – which visitors will learn about on Saturday during a tour of old South End guided by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum and the South End Museum.

This will be from the South End Museum on the corner of Walmer Boulevard and Humewood Road, closing off with a public viewing of the awardwinning exhibition, When Dust Settles, by 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist winner Igshaan Adams at the other museum in Park Drive.

From 9am, South End Museum administrator Colin Abrahams will lead visitors through the shorter route of the museum’s heritage trail, making stops at the Wild Fig Tree, the Pier Street Mosque, St Mary’s and Malay cemeteries, Baakens Valley Tramway bus sheds, the Upper Valley Road Hindu Temple, Black Steps, St Peter’s Church and school ruins, and the Rudolph Street Mosque.

Along the walk, Abrahams will give a detailed history of the venues and their functions in society before the forced removals.

“Often people do not want to think about or dwell on the past and just want to focus on the present and the future, but history is also very important because we need to know where we come from and be aware of the involvement and roles of different communities in our history,” Abrahams said.

South End now stands as one of four Port Elizabeth heritage trails.

After the tour, guests may use their own transport to transfer to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum for a public viewing of Adams’s exhibition.

NMM Art Museum education assistant Amanda Hesheu looks at the award-winning exhibition. The museum in conjunction with the South End Museum will celebrate International Museum Day with a tour through old South End
NMM Art Museum education assistant Amanda Hesheu looks at the award-winning exhibition. The museum in conjunction with the South End Museum will celebrate International Museum Day with a tour through old South End
Image: Werner Hills

When Dust Settles is Adams’ take on religion, Sufism, mysticism and selfhood, while drawing from his personal upbringing as someone born into a Muslim family and bred by Christian grandparents in Cape Town.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum director Emma O’Brien said: “The tour of South End’s historical sites and Igshaan Adams’ exhibition have been combined because in both cases we are reminded through fragments of buildings and pieces of old homes of past communities.

“The ruins of St Peter’s Church are witness to a lost community while Adams uses old pieces of vinyl to reminisce about his upbringing in the Cape Flats.”

The vinyl which covers the walls and floor of the museum was sourced from various residents living in the Cape Flats areas such as Bonteheuwel and Khayelitsha, O’Brien said.

“The vinyl, like the ruins of St Peter’s Church, has a powerfully nostalgic effect and reminds us of our past.”

International Museum Day takes place annually on or around May 18, co-ordinated by the International Council of Museums.

The theme is “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition”. The event is free and will run until 12.30pm.

‘When Dust Settles’ is Adams’s take on religion, mysticism and selfhood

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