There are hundreds of interpretations of the word “Heritage” and I doubt if any dictionary could come up with a succinct but valid definition, but for us, we like to define heritage as “the legacy that one generation bequeaths to to next”. In other words it is in simple terms the handing down through time of the accumulated assets or liabilities of a family, community, town or even a country and is a fundamental component of their survival. It is also the key-stone of sustainable development.
Our heritage has many facets, however, the Association concerns itself mainly with our Natural Heritage (environmental), and our Cultural Heritage Sites. We do not directly concern ourselves with “Cultural Heritage Practice” which is accepted as encompassing traditional dancing and music as well as traditional arts and crafts. ( In SA’s case generally addressed by the Dept of Arts and Culture).
Hout Bay is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. A thousand or more years ago, its pristine natural heritage must have been amazing and the small ‘footprint’ of man fitted perfectly into a natural heritage scenario. However, over many generations, man’s footprints have become bigger and their impact on the rest of what were once balanced ecosystems has changed Hout Bay irrevocably by what we call “civilization”.
Many of the changes can never be “undone” and today we wrestle with problems such as our polluted river and our “Frankenstein” aeolian dune system. However, today with the help of technology some of the damage can be undone or ameliorated in ways which were hitherto impossible.
Hout Bay was once pristine and not long ago it was divided up into farms which changed hands for a few thousand pounds. Water was abundant from Table Mountain’s Hout Bay River and farming flourished. However, starting at the beginning of the 20th Century, the City gradually took away Hout Bay’s perennial water by building tunnels and dams on Table Mountain. Farming fell into decline and fishing incrementally replaced agriculture, but much of the good, once productive, land was used for “development” and much of its food creation potential was lost. Today, fishing is on the brink of collapse and a dysfunctional harbour with enormous tourism potential remains in limbo. We cannot allow our City and Province to call all the shots, it’s up to the community pick up the baton - we are already at the eleventh hour.
This old vintage car, in working order, that has been lovingly looked after by its various owners for many years, is worth many times more than it was when it was first purchased. By the same token a similar model, once in a dilapidated state, that has been meticulously restored to working order will also be worth a good deal more than its original price, but it will never be quite as valuable as the original one. However, the same model in a dilapidated state that is left to rust and decay beyond the possibilities of restoration will alas only be worth its weight in scrap metal ! (See restoration v/s conservation).
Hout Bay is a vintage community, the third oldest surviving settlement in South Africa but it is already in a dilapidated state - we must not let it be consigned to the scrap heap!
1933 Riley 9 “Lynx”
Hout Bay’s Raison d'être
Hout Bay - A heritage worth keeping.
The Reason Why. 283
A nation that turns its back on its history, the lessons and experiences of the past, good or bad, undermines the foundations of its future.