Heritage Issues

September is Heritage Month but it is a downer when the news comes through that the museum and heritage site Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia has closed its doors permanently. The news of closure announced by the CEO and founder of the Liliesleaf Trust, Nic Wolpe, son of Harold Wolpe, comes as a surprise.

Jeppestown, to the east of the Central Business District of the city, is one of Johannesburg’s oldest residential suburbs, proclaimed soon after gold was discovered in 1886. It was originally a neat little suburb for the middle classes of early Johannesburg. Most of the houses and small blocks of flats are now in desperate need of a coat of paint and repairs, but look like they were originally comfortable places in which to live, well-designed and part of a sustainable, liveable neighbourhood.

There are many heritage objects housed in State aided or supported entities such as museums, governmental departments, and other state organisations. These institutions are responsible for safe-guarding and looking after the heritage objects in their custodianship on behalf of the public. Heritage objects portray material evidence of the people and their environment, as such, they should be cared for and conserved, due to their lasting value and provision of evidence of the origins of South African society.

In raising this issue I wish to point out that many attempts by both De Rust Heritage and the Joint Heritage Permit Committee in Oudtshoorn comprising Heritage Oudtshoorn Erfenis and the De Rust Heritage Conservation Association have largely proved unsuccessful in getting the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality to prosecute guilty parties over a number of years.

In October 2017 it was brought to SAHRA’s attention that a letter written by Steve Biko was going to be auctioned online in Britain. The letter was addressed to the Magistrate in East London, South Africa, and details a request to leave the magisterial district under which Biko was restricted in order to visit his wife. Steve Biko, the leader of the South African Student Organisation (SASO); and intellectual inspiration behind the Black Consciousness Movement, was known for being a prolific writer of letters. The South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), m

The local controversy over the development of the public space at Maiden's Cove on the Atlantic Seaboard of Cape Town has been brought to national attention in an article by the distinguished retired Constitutional Court Judge, Albie Sachs. “The Secret Weapon of Maiden's Cove for All” (Daily Maverick, 4 September 2018), hones in on some of the most complex and persistent challenges in the heritage sector: How to define heritage? Whose heritage is it?

In 2001, the Journal of Heritage Studies published a fascinating article by Joan Henderson titled Conserving Colonial Heritage: Raffles Hotel in Singapore. In a section of the article that looks at the history of heritage conservation in Singapore, Henderson highlights four strategies that post-colonial societies can adopt when dealing with buildings inherited from the colonial era: renaming, neglecting, removing and using.

On 15 September 2016, the South African Heritage Resources Agancy (SAHRA) hosted a colloquium on 'Heritage and Development'. Heritage expert Herbert Prins attended and presented a paper arguing that the heritage resources management system has failed to achieve its purpose and that until equlibrium is restored there is no chance of achieving a balance between heritage conservation and development. The full paper is published below.

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