The imposing building seen above once housed the Native Affairs Department, where Pass Laws were administered. There, hordes were subjected to the Boer-ocracy and Brit-ocracy now faithfully replicated in offices of the State administering Passport etc regulations. The museum bit now commemorates the horrors of the Apartheid era.
What, you may ask, were we doing there, not as visitors, but as part of an exhibition? No, it is not because I still insist on regarding many colonialist achievements as great, and may therefore be held up as a dreadful example. Those in Johannesburg and Cape Town environs may have noticed some big book events going on, and Durban is the third (and youngest) member of this South African Triangle.
The museum is the venue for the fair which culminates a week of related activity, and today was the first day of showing locally written or produced books and peripherals. This runs through tomorrow and Saturday. Incentive to attend: admission is free.
However, today there was no time for showing. The programme was too hectic. From being greeted in delightful song
to hearing various people deliver talks ranging from symbols used in book promotion to riveting reminiscences regarding Mitchell Park – the old days when it had elephants and polar bears and British Royal visitors and more recent times with a visit from Madiba – from one whose immediate family has spent what totals over 200 years working there.
Other talks ranged from aspirations regarding African Renaissance (what are they rebirthing from?) Afrikanisation (sic) and Ubuntu, to introducing a book on financial management. It would take several blog posts to cover these, and the upshot was that there was barely time to arrange our table, much less study the works of other exhibitors.
From what I could see, though, there is much to attract interest apart from our own little selection.
There will be a prize-giving for a short story competition tomorrow (wish I’d entered – I could use R5K) and we are invited to a Durban Corporation luncheon. On Saturday is a book launch by Adams and Company (booksellers who go way back in Durban history), but otherwise, hopefully, the opportunity will now be given to the public to browse and buy. Be there. A death certificate may be regarded as the minimum acceptable excuse for non-compliance.