Editorial: Kirstenbosch Gardens

Cape Times (South Africa), July 3, 2013 | Go to article overview
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Editorial: Kirstenbosch Gardens


LOVE him or hate him, Cecil John Rhodes left a very big footprint on southern Africa. We are reminded of this daily by the glowering Cape granite monument, Rhodes Memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Francis Macey and featuring the George Frederic Watts statue, Energy.

Affectionately known as Rhodes Mem, the monument on the slopes of Devil's Peak was unveiled on July 5, 1912. But almost exactly a year later - a century ago yesterday - what is perhaps a more fitting memorial to Rhodes was founded from humble beginnings just along the mountain: the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

Originally inhabited by Stone Age man - hand axes and stone implements have been found in the Dell - the forests and fynbos of pre-settlement Kirstenbosch gave shelter and sustenance to the Khoikhoi people.

Indeed, the history of Kirstenbosch is the history of Cape Town - a history of pre-colonial settlement, colonial dispossession and conquest as Dutch settlers and the Khoikhoi clashed over grazing routes. It was Jan van Riebeeck who, in 1660, ordered the planting of a hedge of wild almond trees and brambles to separate the settlers from the indigenous people.

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Editorial: Kirstenbosch Gardens
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