MEC of Cultural Affairs and Sport Anroux Marais with Bonteheuwel residents at Oral History launch. CREDIT: Patrick Louw

Bonteheuwel is busy making history and preserving history at the same time.

Yesterday the Western Cape Cultural Affairs department launched its Oral History initiative at the Bonteheuwel Civic Centre.

The aim is to record the stories of the aunties, uncles, oumas and oupas in Bontas, and save it in the city’s archives for posterity.

The initiative will be rolled out across Cape Town so anyone can be a storyteller, says the department.

The public can access the stories on DVD and audio files at libraries as well as the Roeland Street archives.

Among the more well-known residents who attended the event were the authors of the cookbook, Kook Saam Kaaps, auntie Florrie Schrikker and auntie Koelsoem Kamali, who talked about their journey as Bonteheuwel residents.

Florrie says: “My family moved to Bonteheuwel from Brooklyn, there is a lot of good people here and every family has a story, so they must tell their stories.”

Murdered anti-apartheid hero Ashley Kriel, who was born and bred in Bonteheuwel, took pride of place at the launch.

Addressing the audience, family friend and fellow activist Henriette Abrahams explained why preserving history is so important.

“As youth we gave so much in this area and country, we need to ask ourselves were our sacrifices worth it?” Henriette tells the crowd.

Part of the Ashley Kriel Exhibition - comprising photos, letters and posters - was also set up at the civic.

Iziko Museum curator Lynn Abrahams says talking about the past heals people.

“You know there is a lot pain in our communities, everyone was affected by the apartheid regime and its brutality, even eyewitnesses,” she says.

“So when people speak about those days, it’s also an outlet for them.”

Residents lent their Struggle T-shirts and other mementos to the Department to help preserve their memories, good and bad.

Former Bonteheuwel resident David Plaatjies, 64, says young people should be encouraged to learn about their history.

“We have a very confused generation right now, and it’s because they don’t appreciate our history and values. If we have an uninformed generation about the past, then how can we hope that their future will have direction?” he asks.

The project is being rolled out in phases and is already underway in the Overberg, West Coast and Drakenstein municipalities.