Words of Slaves: Places of Memory

  • Posted: Feb 6, 2013


Iziko Slave Lodge until 30 June 2013

Words of Slaves: Places of Memory,summarises some 400 years of Atlantic Slave Trade history. The exhibition, presented in South Africa for the first time at the Iziko Slave Lodge, is a collaborative project by Iziko Museums of South Africa, French photographer, Philippe Monges, and the association, The Shackles of Memory (Les Anneaux de la Mémoire), based in Nantes in France.

The journey taken by the photographer and by the exhibition itself traverses the continent of Africa, the Caribbean Islands and Europe, and documents the history and legacy of the Atlantic slave trade. The exhibition visually depicts the enslavement of people in the African interior, construction of slave forts by Europeans on the coast, the journeys of death on European slave ships, the exploitation and decimation of slaves in the high-profit colonial sugar plantations of the Caribbean, the resistance and fight by slave men and women to escape their enslavement and includes the depiction of the wealthy and grand homes of European slave traders in Nantes and other French towns.

The photographs portray landscapes still bearing traces or ‘memories’ of those traumatic events, such as the long-abandoned places of the escaped slaves or maroons, and a slave cemetery on Guadeloupe. At the same time, the texts try to capture some of the voices of the slaves as they recount their experiences and feelings.

French prize-winning photographer, Philippe Monges, has worked on the slave project for over five years. Words of Slaves: Places of Memory, complements the story of the Indian Ocean slave trade – an integral part of Cape Dutch slavery – presented at the Iziko Slave Lodge. “As African museums of excellence, Iziko Museums of South Africa operate within a global context. Our museums, reflective of our diverse African heritage, are spaces for cultural interaction and engagement. Once a space associated with the inequalities of the past, the Iziko Slave Lodge is an appropriate home for this exhibition, and is today a space connecting us to our slave roots, raising awareness of issues of human rights, equality and justice,” says Rooksana Omar, Chief Executive Officer, Iziko.

The exhibition has been produced by the association, The Shackles of Memory, with the support of the Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery in France and the Unesco Slave Route project. It has been brought to Iziko Museums of South Africa with the further support of the French Institute and the French-South Africa Season 2012-2013.

The Iziko Slave Lodge, located on the corner of Adderley and Wale Streets, Cape Town,is open Mondays to Saturdays from 10:00 until 17:00. Closedon Sundays, Workers' Day and Christmas Day.  Admission fees Adults 19 years and older R20, Students and SA Pensioners R10 
Visitors 18 years and under Free.

This exhibition is part of the French Season in South Africa 2012, an initiative that aims to strengthen relations between France and South Africa, and to create an environment in which each nation supports the other from a cultural, commercial and social perspective. It does this by creating an awareness of French culture in South Africa through a planned series of events and exhibitions.





Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko) operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium, the Social History Centre and thee collection – specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and non-profit organisation which brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, as well as unlimited free access to individuals aged 18 and under (excluding the Castle of Good Hope and Planetarium).


COMMEMORATIVE DAYS – FREE ENTRANCE (excluding Iziko Planetarium and Castle of Good Hope)

  • Human Rights Day: 21 March
  • Freedom Day: 27 April
  • International Museum Day: 25 May
  • Africa Day: 25 May
  • Youth Day: 16 June
  • National Women’s Day: 9 August
  • Heritage Day: 24 September
  • National Aids Awareness Day: 1 December
  • Emancipation Day: 1 December
  • Day of Reconciliation: 16 December

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