Reconcile with our slave past

Dr Dan Sleigh

Well-known writer and historian Dr Dan Sleigh is the guest speaker at the Afrikaanse Taalmuseum and Monument (ATM) in Paarl’s commemoration of slave emancipation, on Saturday December 3.

The theme of the event is “Reconcile with our slave past”.

Dr Sleigh is a VOC history specialist and has received numerous awards for his contribution to conservation and literature.

He holds a D.Phil in History from Stellenbosch University, and a knighthood from the Dutch royal house. He did his national service in the South African Navy.

According to Michael Jonas, director of the ATM, the aim of the celebration is to commemorate the legacy of slavery in our culture and environment.

Mr Jonas says slavery is not exclusive to South Africa, but a worldwide phenomenon already practiced in Biblical times.

He points out that slavery has had a profound effect on the economic and cultural development of society, and that many of
the socio-economic and racial identity issues South Africans struggle with today have their origins in slavery.

“In December we also celebrate Reconciliation Day – we would thus like to call on all South Africans to reconcile with our country’s history, including our slave heritage.

“Between 1658 and 1808,
63 000 slaves were imported to the Cape from the East as well as from other parts of Africa.

These diverse origins led to the establishment of a unique and diverse slave population and their important contribution to language and cultural development at the Cape. Come to join our celebration to learn more about this heritage,” says Mr Jonas.

“An important present-day concern is that, although slavery is officially illegal in all countries, there are more slaves today than ever before in history.

During the four centuries of slavery, about 13 million people were exported from Africa.

“Today there are an estimated 27 million slaves – people who are forced to work for no pay, who are locked up and are controlled through violence.”

The programme includes musical performances by local artists Marissa von Mollendorf and the Drakenstein Youth Development.

The function starts at 9.30am, in the Historium Conference Centre next to the Afrikaanse Taalmuseum in Pastorie Avenue, Paarl.

Entry is free. To book, contact Carlo Joshua at 021 872 3441 or