2016 marks the 350th anniversary of what is widely accepted as the oldest building in South Africa – the Castle of Good Hope – and a year of commemorative events ends on December 9 when a centre for memory and learning is opened.
The Department of Defence and Military Veterans is the managing authority of the five-pointed structure which has its own management and operations team. They were commended by Auditor General Kimi Makwetu who said: “The improvement of the overall audit outcome (of the department) was because the Castle Control Board improved from an unqualified opinion with findings to a clean audit opinion”.
The year’s commemorative events end with a December national tribute in honour of three indigenous warrior kings, Department of Defence Director: Communications, Sonwabo Mbananga, said. They are King Cetshwayo kaSenzangakhona of amaZulu, King Langalibalele kaMthimkulu of amaHlubi, King Sekhukhune of BaPedi and Gorochougua clan freedom fighter and Khoe (Khoisan) leader Doman.
The tribute at the Castle of Good Hope is because all three were, at different times, captured and incarcerated in what is now a National Heritage Site, having led “various wars of resistance against land and cattle dispossessions that followed the arrival of the Dutch and later British settlers in South Africa”.
The theme of the 350th anniversary has been “freedom from oppression” and various events have sought, according to Mbananga, to not only correct historical biases and inaccuracies around the country’s “shared and often difficult history, but also to galvanise South Africans to debate and dialogue as well as reshape the common narrative around national symbols with the aim of advancing the post-colonial and apartheid efforts of national reconciliation and nation building”.
Statues honouring the three warrior kings will be unveiled in the presence of President Jacob Zuma, the Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and Isilo Samabandla Goodwill Zwelithini of amaZulu, Kgoshigolo Kenneth k Sekhukhune of BaPedi, Inkosi Manzewenkosi Radebe kaLangalibalele of amaHlubi and King Calvin Johannes of the Khoe (Khoisan).
The centre for memory and learning will also be officially taken into use on December 9. It is, Mbananga said, a tribute to slaves at the Castle of Good Hope who were forbidden to read and write.
“The centre will serve as the nodal skills transfer and training site for military veterans under the con-ordination and programmes of the Department of Military Veterans,” he added