History teachers at Alexander Sinton High School were so impressed with the standard of work its pupils produced around slavery and anti-racism – as part of their heritage research project – that they decided to host an exhibition.
The second part of the Grade 10 and Grade 11 pupils’ research project culminated in the exhibition, which was held on Saturday September 9.
Deputy principal and history teacher, Fazilet Bell, collaborated with teacher Steven Lebethe on this Heritage Month event.
Ms Bell said the pupils shifted from being history pupils to young historians.
“We wanted to show alternative, critical ways of looking at these two pertinent issues (slavery and anti-racism). Our children curated the exhibition as young historians. We hope to instil in them a love for history and to show them that history is not only about dead people but about you and me. Ultimately, we hope that by engaging with these pertinent issues, they would become agents of change. This include shaping their attitude towards others, acting against injustices in society, building a critical consciousness and ultimately empowering them to shape their destiny because ‘the past, the present and the future are interlinked in a chain of events’.
“Issues of identity and injustices of the past were raised – here and globally – under colonialism and the suffering of other indigenous people. Certainly other issues of war, Bosnia, Syria and the continued suffering of the Palestinian people were intended to raise critical awareness of the currency of history in order to create compassionate human beings, interested in social and economic justice, as South Africans and global citizens in order to become agents of change. The exhibition was to showcase the standard of their heritage projects and the currency of issues of slavery and race to their parents and invited guests,” Ms Bell said.
Professor Ciraj Rassool, from the University of the Western Cape’s History Department, opened the exhibition and shed some light on the importance of heritage and how Iziko museums and museums abroad, are addressing the imbalances and injustices of the country’s colonial and apartheid past.
There were also live exhibits, which touched on issues of identity and anti-racism.
Ms Bell added: “We are all part of the human family – there is no such thing as race, only one race – the human race. As an arts focus school, our pupils were able to tap into their creativity to rap, write songs and play music, paint, draw, make design models and do studies in photographs as history pupils. All in all, we came out of the exhibition – where we tried to create an intimate space of engagement – more knowledgeable about these issues.”