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Performed at in_HERIT, Heritage Day 2016

Institute of Creative Arts (formerly GIPCA)

With the Institute of Creative Arts, Soudien presented a walking tour based on the life of Ansla van Bengalen, one of the first freed enslaved people, or “Free Blacks” in Cape Town. The aim of this tour was to generate a more complex understanding of Cape Town history and Capetonian identity. Many stories like these, otherwise unknown to the broader public, stand in opposition to the singular narrative of Jan van Riebeeck, and the European settlement of the Cape.


Ansla van Bengalen was captured of the Southern coast of Bengal by Commander Pieter Kemp, and arrived in the Cape in 1655. Over the course of van Bengalen’s life, she and her family’s prospects would undergo several major transformations. From working as an enslaved person in the Old Fort for Jan van Riebeeck and his family, van Bengalen would find manumission, and develop a significant fortune as an entrepreneur in Table Valley.

The tour began in Church Square, near the Iziko Slave Lodge on Adderley Street. From there the group walked through the Company Gardens, and the tour ended in Long Street.

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