Olive Schreiner Memorial

Memorials in or near Kalk Bay, False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsOlive Schreiner Memorial

Where? Parking Lot, Main Road, Kalk Bay, False Bay Coast, Cape Town

Overnight? Stay in Kalk Bay, in Western Cape

Memorials have changed from large bronze edifices atop concrete platforms. Even when bronze, nowadays, they are unconventional (think Brenda Fassie's statue outside the Bassline Club in Johannesburg).

There is a movement towards memorials that are neither sentimental nor grimly obvious. You have only to consider We are Still Here, and the Cissie Gool Memorial on Longmarket Pedestrian Mall in Cape Town, for example.

The memorial to Olive Schreiner's role in the struggle for universal franchise, a role not nearly as well recognised as her contribution as one of the country's greatest writers, is one such memorial.

Olive Schreiner was a passionate supporter of the Women's Enfranchisement League in Cape Town, which met across the city, including in the English Church school room that used to stand on Kalk Bay's Main Road.

There was nothing to mark the old stone building other than a parking lot.

The author of the best-selling The Story of An African Farm also wrote the feminist classic Women and Labour, was to leave the league after it refused to campaign for the vote for all South African women (where white women got the vote in 1930, women, and men, of all other races had to wait until 1994).

Artist Barbara Wildenboer rose to the challenge of producing a memorial that the public could interact with but that was also aesthetically pleasing.

She makes use of the St Andrew's cross, with its four equal sides representing Schreiner's campaign for equal rights for men and women, black and white combined with the representation of the round farm dam that epitomises the Karoo's dry landscape (Schreiner chose the Karoo as her home as she was troubled less by her asthma).

The Sunday Times' Heritage Project of 2006 chose 40 people to memorialise. Their list was not definitive as there was no way to include everyone who deserved a memorial in the list. But Olive Schreiner was one of them.

Find it: In the garden of the parking lot on Main Road, Kalk Bay, opposite the Anglican Church.

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