Things To Do in De WaterkantPrestwich Memorial Garden
Where? Corner of Somerset and Buitengracht Streets, De Waterkant, City Bowl, Cape Town.
When? Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 18h00,
Saturday and Sunday from 08h00 to 14h00.
How much? Free
It is no secret that South Africa has had a somewhat dappled history, plagued at one time by slavery and the unfair treatment of fellow man. Harnessing the lessons learnt and honouring those that died under such difficult conditions is part of a reconciliation process that continues to shape and refine the Rainbow Nation.
The Prestwich Memorial was established when a number of human skeletons were discovered while excavating for urban development in 2003. It is situated on the corner of Somerset and Buitengracht streets in the historical neighbourhood of De Waterkant in Cape Town. These were found to be the unmarked graves of slaves and executed ones of the 1600’s and 1700’s. Once executed by Dutch settlers, these ones were not deemed worthy of a proper burial, hence their being buried and forgotten. This area was known as District One.
The Prestwich Memorial and Prestwich Memorial Gardens were established to pay homage to those who lost their lives centuries ago. The bones of these ones were exhumed, and a facade created using the slate found on the historical tourist site of Robben Island. The ossuary is the building in which the exhumed bones are preserved. The Memorial centre includes interpretive displays that celebrate the natural, cultural and historical heritage of the Western Cape; the story of District One; the history of slavery; forced removals and the apartheid regime. The Memorial is part of St Andrew’s Square, which has beautiful artworks and sculptures too.
Truth is the onsite coffee shop, which is a great pit stop for visitors needing to refuel and refresh themselves.
The Prestwich Memorial and the Memorial Gardens are significant for countless reasons, not least of all paying respect to the individuals and families that lost their lives. However, it is also an integral part of honouring the lives of those who helped to shape the vibrant modern, multi-faceted Mother City of Cape Town.