South Africa, Netherlands aim to start conversations around identity

Performance of Future for the Past by Sites of Memory Foundation.

Together with its South African partners, the Dutch Embassy and consulate-general, is bringing the #cocreateIDENTITY Experience to Cape Town from Monday June 4 to Wednesday June 6.

The programme seeks to open meaningful dialogues around questions of identity and transformation in the context of the Netherlands and South Africa’s shared cultural heritage, including Dutch historic ties through trade and slavery.

Initiatives include two cultural theatre pieces, a Camissa Museum Tour, a tour of the Slave Lodge and an exhibition at the Castle of Good Hope and connected discussions and dialogues

Rather than repeating the Dutch narrative that one can read in VOC archives, #cocreateSANL predominantly aims to support South Africans in uncovering their own narrative between each other.

During the #cocreateIDENTITY Experience, the aim is to unpack the complex question of who are we today and how that relates to the past.

Ambassador for the Kingdom of the Netherlands to South Africa, Han Peters, said: “The philosophy of our diplomatic missions in South Africa is to recognise our shared challenges and ambitions – thereby empowering us to work together to co-create solutions.

“We regard it as a responsibility to dive into our past in order to co-create a shared better future – engaging in difficult conversations about our histories, sitting with the uncomfortable truths, and driving a new trajectory for the future.”

Consul-general Sebastiaan Messerschmidt said the goal was to create an opportunity for the Dutch people to be truthful listening partners, receive what is revealed and exchanged, while South Africans venture to make sense of their identity journey connected to the past.

“Elements that are derived from our VOC past need to be fed back to the Dutch, so we can learn what the impact is of our history directly. In the end, we aim to recognise and acknowledge our differences and shared challenges and ambitions – thereby empowering us to work together better.”

To achieve these objectives, and as an expression of #cocreateSANL, the #cocreateIDENTITY Experience will be held at various very significant venues, including the Castle of Good Hope, the Camissa Museum, the Iziko Slave Lodge and the Artscape. It is set to open a dialogue that delves into how the Netherlands and South Africa can create meaningful exchanges to foster powerful transformation and address identity issues.

These conversations will be driven through several cultural, scientific, social, and artistic projects, both South African and Dutch, open to the public (first come, first serve) at various venues, which include:

  • Future for the Past: Sites of Memory at the Slave Lodge/Church Square, Cape Town on Monday June 4 from noon until 12.30pm and 3pm until 3.30pm; and on June 6 from 11am to 11.30am.

Sites of Memory presents Future for the Past; A journey back in time to the connected colonial past between the Netherlands and South Africa. Artists from both countries translated their vision to this history in music, poetry, dance, visual art and theatre. With this performance, Sites of Memory shares insight into how the colonial past plays a role in our present and to re-imagine the future.

Future for the Past takes the audience on a route through the city from the Slave Lodge, to Church Square and a performance at the Castle of Good Hope.

  • (Eva van de Kaap) at the Artscape Theatre, Cape Town, will show at the Artscape on June 4 from 6pm to 7.30pm and on June 5 from 12.30pm to 2pm.

Set in present-day South Africa, this play takes the audience through the life of Krotoa from the time she is taken into Jan van Riebeeck’s household, to becoming the first Khoe woman to be baptised and officially marry a European. As a key negotiator and translator between the Dutch and the local people, her story is one of constant clashes of two cultures, with all the confrontation and drama that this entails.

Tickets available through Artscape @ R100 each

  • (included in the Castle ticket) will take place all day on Monday June 4 and Tuesday June 5 from 9.30am to 4pm.

The Biography of an Uncharted People project aims to document the histories of ordinary people often excluded from conventional archival sources using historical administrative records. Charting the Uncharted, an art exhibit which paired researchers with prominent South African artists, aims to disseminate the results from the project to a wider audience.

More information can be found at

  • Camissa Museum Tour at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town (included in the Castle ticket) will also take place all day from 9.30am to 4pm on June 5.

With a view to telling the stories of the people of the Cape, the Camissa Museum reveals the rich and complex history of Camissa Africans.

These are the people who are portrayed by others as “coloured” throughout history – but is this how they identify themselves? With careful cultivation, the museum explores hidden ancestral stories, revealing truths and honouring memories while driving restoration.

  • #CoCreateIDENTITY Digital: ONS Perspectief at the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town (included in the Castle ticket) will take place all day from 9.30 am to 4pm.

This “ONS Perspectief” event features a broad, interdisciplinary art project which delves into shared backgrounds, identities, and histories. As the name suggests, the artistic documentaries – originating from Dutch makers of BrotherTill and South African word artists – aim to publicise different perspectives on Dutch and South African life, building a powerful, evolving collective.

To view the full programme and plan your attendance, visit: