The story of the twin-towns

Cedar Ryan, president of Fish Hoek Bowling Club and Lieb Swiegers, president of Stellenbosch Bowling Club with the floating shield, won last year, in the annual twin-town competition, by Fish Hoek Bowling Club. Picture: Mike Kuhn

The story began when Mr Tyers, the Mayor of Cape Town, started to organise Festival 1977 as the 325th anniversary of the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck at the Cape.

He felt that, instead of Cape Town alone, this festival should be expanded to include the neighbouring towns.

Along with other towns, Fish Hoek responded positively. Angus Mckay accepted the task of Fish Hoek’s festival director. His concept was to provide a full programme of entertainment for the month of April, and to twin with another town for the promotion of mutual understanding, friendship and active co-operation.

The idea of twinning Fish Hoek with Stellenbosch was accepted by the Stellenbosch municipal council. Mr McKay proposed to erect a twin-pillar memorial as a reminder of the year in Fish Hoek’s history.

On the one pillar would be the Fish Hoek crest, and on the other pillar the Stellenbosch crest. A complete record of all donations would be filed, sealed and kept in the municipal strongroom. In April 2000 it would be unlocked and made available for public perusal.

On that Saturday morning, April 30 1977, crowds of spectators gathered around the twin-pillar memorial. Fish Hoek’s cute young “drummies” stepped out smartly to their marching tune. Sixty-four choir members from Stellenbosch University, entertained the crowd with their singing.

On Saturday April 30, Mr Langley, the Mayor of Fish Hoek, and Mr Lombard, the Mayor of Stellenbosch, shook hands. Stellenbosch and Fish Hoek were declared twin-towns.

Both towns agreed that this should be an on-going relationship at every level of their communal life and there should be mutual invitations to attend or take part in functions or activities.

The finalé to the festival programme was the unveiling of the Twin-pillar Memorial by the Mayor of Stellenbosch, Mr Lombard.

An exchange of gifts made a happy conclusion to this event.

The sad story is that, when municipalities were amalgamated to form the new Cape Town Metro in 2000, Fish Hoek lost its status as an independent municipality and the Twin-Town Agreement between Fish Hoek and Stellenbosch came to an end.

The crucial question to be answered is: How many projects and other activities were launched during the 23 years between 1977 and the year 2000 to achieve co-operation and a spirit of unity between Stellenbosch and Fish Hoek?

Twinning of towns is not something to be improvised. It must be carefully planned. Clear objectives and types of activities that contribute to the success of twin-town alliances should be defined. The two most important factors that contribute to the success of twin-town alliances are community awareness of the twinning and community involvement.

Only one element of the twin-town agreement withstood the test of time. Since the event on April 30 1977, the bowling clubs and the tennis clubs of Stellenbosch and Fish Hoek still have an annual competition against each other.

On Saturday November 9 last year, 42 years later, the annual competition between the bowling club of Fish Hoek and Stellenbosch took place in Stellenbosch. Yes, the annual competition goes on, because Stellenbosch accepted the invitation to travel to Fish Hoek, this to try to bring the trophy back home.

Faan Oosthuizen is a member of the Stellenbosch bowling club, and he can be contacted at