A walk down memory lane on Heritage Day

Imam Rashied Omar from Claremont Main Road Mosque and Reverend Chesnay Frantz of St Saviour’s Anglican Church start off the day with prayers at the church.

Former Claremont and Newlands residents who were forced out of the neighbourhoods under apartheid took part in a walk of remembrance on Heritage Day last Friday September 24.

About 100 people joined the Claremont/Newlands Walk of Remembrance, which was organised by the St Saviour’s Anglican Church of Claremont and the Claremont Main Road Mosque.

They walked for 1.6km from St Saviour’s Church, into the Main Road towards the Claremont Main Road and then towards the Kildare Springs monument in Newlands.

Russell Dudley, 62, the son of the late long-serving Livingstone High School principal Richard Dudley, was 12 when he and his family had to move out of York Street, Claremont, in 1972.

“I had so many friends growing up in Claremont, and when we were kicked out, all those friendships disappeared, and that is what the forced removals did to us,” he said.

His family moved to Elfindale, which was still underdeveloped at a time.

The walk brought up many emotions, but it was good to see that many former residents had not forgotten, he said.

Majid Mowzer, 67, was born in Newlands, one of eight siblings. He recalled playing in an open field near Springs Way in Newlands. The family was forced out of the area in 1969.

“My father, Abdul-Gaffoor Mowzer, died at the beginning of March, and then we got evicted at the end of March that year.”

And later that year, his imam, the anti-apartheid cleric Abdullah Haron, died in police detention.

Mr Mowzer said a Newlands shoemaker felt sympathy for his family and gave them a place to stay in Rylands.

Newlands had been a beautiful place to live, he said. “We used to socialise with everybody, we used to pick up acorns to feed the squirrels, and we visited the old zoo that was in the area.”

Newlands resident Lauren Muller said: “This is wonderful, and we want this to be the beginning with the leadership of the mosque and church to help create a society to record all the historical stories of former residents.”

Reverend Chesnay Frantz, of St Saviour’s, said they were committed to building a strong interfaith relationship with the Claremont Main Road Mosque to preserve the old stories.

Imam Rashied Omar, from the mosque, said the event could strengthen relations between the two faiths.

“As an Imam of close to four decades at the mosque, it was inspiring and heart-warming to walk with the former residents of Claremont and Newlands and also sad to hear about the stories of how they were forcefully removed,” he said.

The St. Saviour’s Anglican Church and Claremont Main Road Mosque hope to build on the collaboration around this event to launch a Newlands/Claremont Oral History Project. Email Imam Omar at Omar.1@nd.edu or email Reverend Frantz at stsaviours.rector@gmail.com for more information.

Former residents of Claremont and Newlands walking down Claremont Main Road in the Walk of Remembrance.
Participants stopping at the Claremont Main Road Mosque to listen to more stories.