In 1969, as a result of the Group Areas Act of 1950, learners from the Lückhoff School in Banhoek Road, Stellenbosch, were forced to vacate their beloved school and relocate to the new Lückhoff School in Idas Valley, some carrying their benches as they left.
Fifty years on, Stellenbosch University (SU) held a special ceremony on Saturday (16 November 2019) at which two of the original school benches were returned to the school, as part of an act of restorative justice and the process of further developing the Lückhoff Living Museum.
“We are building bridges with these two benches – from the new Lückhoff School to the old Lückhoff School. We are building bridges not just here in Stellenbosch, but symbolically for our whole country. Because apartheid divided us all, and its legacy lingers in spatial inequality everywhere that we need to overcome," said Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor at SU during the ceremony.
Prof De Villiers and some SU staff members walked along when current learners of the new Lückhoff School carried the benches from Idas Valley to the old Lückhoff School in Banhoek Road, where members of school's Class of 1969 did the last stretch.
The process in establishing the Lückhoff Living Museum started in 2007 by the then SU rector and vice-chancellor, the late Prof Russell Botman, during which the Old Lückhoff School building in Banhoek Road was symbolically rededicated to its original owners.
According to Prof De Villiers, the Lückhoff Living Museum will be a place where the SU community can view photos, films, exhibits and portraits, remember and have critical dialogues when they visit.
“There are plans for creating visual displays, to put up maps of where people lived, where the churches were and the mosques and the barber shops and the bioscope, the sports clubs, to tell stories of the games the children played, the events that took place in the community. This should be a Living Museum – where we not only find out about the past, but also meet each other in the present, and make plans to come together for a better future, for everyone," said Prof De Villiers.
One of the past learners of the Lückhoff School, Mr Otto van Noie, also had the opportunity to share a few words at the ceremony and expressed his “appreciation" to SU for “unlocking, exploring and utilizing a shared future" for the benefit of, in particular, future generations of scholars and students from the Stellenbosch community.
“This 'proud old building', in Adam Small's language, has been waiting patiently for fifty years to be honoured as a worthy 'Stellenboscher', as a place of remembrance, but also as a vision for the future," Van Noie said.
In her word of thanks at the ceremony, Ms Renee Hector-Kannemeyer, Deputy Director: Division for Social Impact at SU, honoured the school community of 1969 and thanked SU staff for bearing witness to the start of a process of the creation of the Lückhoff Living Museum.
“I am passionately connected to the Lückhoff School through my late father, an English teacher and part of the school community of 1969, who experienced the trauma of forced removals and despite their pain decided to actively participate in today's ceremony. This is a wonderful opportunity for a new way of being together to redefine community. I would like to honour Prof Wim de Villiers for continuing this critical mission and committing Stellenbosch University to redress and development work, which aims to not only acknowledge the wrongs of the past but to address these wrongs in an active display of restoration," said Hector-Kannemeyer.
Photo by Stefan Els.