With any historic event such as Commemorating the landing of the 1820 Settlers in Algoa Bay we will have many voices for and against.
Within myself I have many viewpoints:
- The money grabbing cynic in me sees this coming milestone as an ideal opportunity to attract foreign tourists and their money to our city. Nothing makes people open their pockets more than a bit of guilt selling.
- The nation building champion in me sees the event as one which could promote harmony and understanding between fractured groups.
- The historian in me sees this as an opportunity to celebrate and learn from our rich, sometimes fractured, history.
- The ‘doen dit nou’ person in me says: If you would like to submit logos for the 1820 commemoration then please do do here: http://mype.co.za/new/submit/photographs/ If you would like to offer up ideas and support for the 1820 Commemoration Event then sign up here: http://mype.co.za/new/contact/
What a massive draw-card the marking of the landing of the 1820 Settlers will be if we can show our visitors from across the pond the upgraded Campanile playing our National Anthem: https://basystems.co.za/historic-campanile-memorial/ or playing any other tune that we choose. The Campanile bells have the capability to play any tune with their wonderful 25 bell clarion.
Lest we slip back into our racial sniping zones, let me hasten to point out that the upgrading of the Campanile was an initiative of the ANC Municipal Government under the stewardship of Danny Jordaan and not, as many erroneously suspect, an initiative under the Athol Trollip DA Government.
Personally I think that the DA Government missed a great opportunity to nation build and erred greatly by not more publicly acknowledging Danny and the ANC’s part in the upgrade of the Campanile and by making it a focal point of Route 67. The least they could have done was ensure that Danny was at the opening.
If you think about it the 1820 Settlers were the British Government’s version of Donald Trump’s proposed Mexican Wall.
The war of 1817–19 led to the first wave of immigration of British settlers of any considerable scale. The then governor, Lord Charles Somerset, whose treaty arrangements with the Xhosa chiefs had proved untenable, desired to erect a barrier against the Xhosa by having white colonists settle in the border region. In 1820, upon the advice of Lord Somerset, parliament voted to spend £50,000 to promote migration to the Cape, prompting 4,000 British people to emigrate. These immigrants, who are now known as the 1820 Settlers, formed the Albany settlement, later Port Elizabeth, and made Grahamstown their headquarters. Intended primarily as a measure to secure the safety of the frontier, and regarded by the British government chiefly as a way of finding employment for a few thousand of the unemployed in Britain. Yet, the emigration scheme accomplished something with more far reaching implications than its authors had intended. The new settlers, drawn from every part of the United Kingdom and from almost every grade of society, retained strong loyalty to Britain. In the course of time, they formed a counterpoint to the Dutch colonists.
Of the 90,000 applicants, about 4,000 were approved. Many 1820 Settlers initially arrived in the Cape in about 60 different parties between April and June 1820. They were granted farms near the village of Bathurst, Eastern Cape and supplied equipment and food against their deposits, but their lack of agricultural experience led many of them to abandon agriculture and withdraw to Bathurst and other settlements like Grahamstown, East London and Port Elizabeth, where they typically reverted to their trades.
The key take away to learn from the 1820 ‘land invasion’ is that governments manipulate people for their own selfish gain.
Sure, many of the British settlers went on to become successful and the shotgun approach in allocating land did result in a small subset becoming very successful but, as a nation building exercise it was a bit of a disaster as the connotations around that event linger on still.
It would be easy to say that the fear is that any 1820 Commemoration Event will be a non-starter with a coalition government largely made up of ANC adherents and is a situation where we will have to rely on unpaid volunteers to drive the event and get the buy in from numerous local tourism product owners.
It would be so much better if we could use the event to understand the lingering hurt around this event and move closer towards each other as people who dearly love Algoa Bay and South Africa.
I hope that recent history around the 150th St Georges Park Celebrations non-event will help us learn to do things differently.
In 2011 there was much enthusiasm about celebrating the 150th Anniversary of St Georges Park…. which waned. See: http://mype.co.za/new/st-georges-park-150th-anniversary/2984/2011/03. Many meetings were hosted at the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture whose offices are in St Georges Park and no dedicated champion and driver of the process was revealed.
As a result this enthusiasm was soon damped down in committees and intransigence for the asked for support from the municipality.
At the time we even had two people submit proposed logos for the event. See: http://mype.co.za/new/150th-anniversary-logo-submissions/3046/2011/03