Speaking about building Rylands (1960s to 1980s): a Cape Flats history

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    This article draws on oral histories of Rylands, a former Indian group area on the Cape Flats. It shifts focus from narratives of dispossession to narratives of the making of a relocation site. The Cape Flats has generally been represented as a place of poverty, crime and hopelessness and existing on the 'fringe' of the city. This article seeks to complicate our understandings and imaginings of the Cape Flats by focusing on Rylands. In its focus on the middle class, it argues that they transformed their physical surroundings. Spaces in Rylands, built by Indian capital, also offered the Cape Flats useful resources. As an apartheid-designated space, Rylands had a significant role in the entrenching of Indianness leading to energised cultural and religious activity with temples and mosques becoming the centre for residents. There were competing visions for Rylands; some dallied with apartheid governance structures but, by the 1980s, the nonracial ethos dominated and for youth this place became their centre.