A walk down memory lane

Residents spoke about their experiences in Salt River.

Salt River residents, past and present, celebrated Heritage Day on Monday by exploring the community’s rich history.

About 100 people met at the Salt River hall where the Salt River Heritage Society asked them to add their memories of the area to a timeline displayed on the hall’s wall.

Shabodien Roomanay, the society’s chairman, said: “I always believe that if we do not record history, it will be lost; there will be people without background and without history.”

The society’s timeline stretches back to 1650. It includes copies of archival records, old newspaper articles and pictures and each decade is clearly marked. It shows the mineral boom from 1870 to 1960, the urban boom in the 1970s, the political demonstration from Salt River High in 1976 and many more events.

Dr Koni Benson, Peter Coates and Anwaar Omar worked on the display, which stretched across a wall in Salt River Hall. After the meeting, the timeline was folded up neatly and will be stored at Community House in Salt River for anyone who would like to have a closer look.

Mr Coates, an Observatory resident and former librarian, said it had been important to gather as many facts as possible, and they had gathered a lot of their information from the National Library of South Africa.

“The news clippings and pictures are also from the National Library, and most of it came from my own research from many years, and I worked closely with Anwaar and Dr Koni.”

The 100-odd people at the hall were asked to split into groups of ten, and members of the society spoke to each person, asking them about their history and what they remembered about the neighbourhood that could be added to the timeline.

Ferial Johnston said she felt privileged to be part of such a diverse community. “Salt River is a mixed community with different religious backgrounds… What kept this community together was that there were good schools in this community.”

Mr Roomanay hopes to turn the Salt River timeline into a book one day so it can reach a wider audience.

Anyone who wants to contribute to the timeline project can email the Salt River Heritage Society at saltriverhistory@gmail.com