21 December 2008

To be or not to be #2 - Keep it green

From about the mid 1800's until 1903, when they were forcibly removed from the area, the Mfengu people lived in Richmond Hill, in an area that was known as the Strangers Location. These were people who worlded predominantly on offloading ships that arrived in the Bay. The Strangers Location was established by an act of Parliament, which meant that there was security of tenure. That is until the bubonic plague broke out and as a result of sweeping powers that were granted to get rid of the plague, the Strangers Location was burned to the groound and the residents were moved to New Brighton.

The park in Richmond Hill was originally the cemetary of the Mfengu resident and is recorded as such on the early maps of the city. Over the years the cemetary became public open space and eventually a park. Part of it was integrated as a playground for the old Erica School.

The old Erica School Play ground, which is marked on the old maps as part of the cemetary, looking towards the St Phillips Church, which was established in 1884 to serve the community.

The National Department of Public Works and the SA Police service now want to build a 1011 call centre and a 50 metre lattice mast on part of the cemetary, but before they can do so they have to comply with with the heritage laws. This requires that the NPWD and the SAPS have to follow a lengthy public participation process before they can even consider building on the site. Hopefully the reaction of the Mfengu people and the duration of this process will throw a spanner in the works and they will rethink their blighted strategy.

Notice required by the developers to locate persons with an interest in the cemetary. The fact that this should be in the official languages of the province, does not seem to have occurred to the developers.

We certainly do not want an ugly four storey admin building dumped on the edge of our park and will continue with our protest action. We feel that this should remain a green area and that a small monument should be erected on the site, in memory of the contribution of the Mfengu, to the early development of the city.


Digital Flower Pictures said...

We have a saying in the States, "You can't fight City Hall". I don't know if you use it.

In some ways its true once they get something in their minds here the politicians can usually find a way to do it.

Good Luck with your fight.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Quite recent arrival in Blogosphere! Still learning the ropes. Chanced on your Blog, listed on my Dashboard. Guessed you were from 'The Windy City'...born there many moons ago. Specially taken by reference to St Philips Church; original Church of my forebears. Will be visiting your blog as often as I can. Good to read your posts!
Keep agitating!! :):)

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willow said...

Hope the area remains green. Best of luck and keep us posted.