On Sunday, walking past the Exclusive Books store, it was interesting to see Kees van der Waal’s new edited text, Winelands, Work and Wealth: Transformations in the Dwars Valley prominently displayed in the window. I found it striking because it brought to the fore something that is so obvious but so well hidden in Stellenbosch town. Walking through the oak lined streets steeped in Cape Dutch vintage, it’s hard to tell that all of it was built up by the sweat of black slaves and workers over roughly 3 centuries. I could not find a slave or workers monument in the town, despite noticing how rich the public art culture was.
Stellenbosch strikes me as one of those places that got put on the table by the National Partyduring the negotiated settlement pre-1994, something the ANC conceded in exchange for democracy. In fact, there’s a joke with more than a single grain of truth that the design of apartheid was conceived in one of the student residences of Stellenbosch University, where the young “architects” lived together. The divided socioeconomic structure of Stellenbosch is a living testimony to the long-term objective of apartheid.