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Khoisan Chief Endorses Heritage Recognition in River Club Development

Published March 21, 2024
2 months ago

The Khoisan community's leader, Chief Zenzile Khoisan, has expressed approval for the attention given to Khoisan heritage in the new R4.6 billion River Club development project in Observatory, Cape Town. The river club, historically significant as a Khoisan heritage site, was the centre of attention during a groundbreaking ceremony, with Chief Zenzile and other dignitaries in attendance, including Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

This development comes after a directive from the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2023, stating developers must acknowledge and integrate the heritage and traditions of groups like the Khoisan people in their projects. Chief Zenzile stated that the developers had complied with this directive and emphasized the spiritual and cultural importance of maintaining an unobstructed view of Lion’s Head from the site.

The all-encompassing development is poised to be a nexus for cultural preservation and modern enterprise, boasting not only the global headquarters for the retail giant Amazon but also shopping malls and residential spaces. A particular highlight will be the media centre dedicated to telling the Khoisan community's narratives and safeguarding their history.

The chief, however, highlighted a poignant historical injustice, pointing out that it was the current government that sold the land in question to developers, not the Khoisan people themselves. This gesture of including Khoisan heritage in the River Club project marks a step toward recognition and inclusivity in the face of historical marginalization.

As the River Club development progresses, it serves as a promising model for honoring South Africa's indigenous history while forwarding contemporary development. This harmony between past and future is critical in defining the ethical and cultural landscape of urban development, setting a precedent for future projects in South Africa and beyond.

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