The Simon van der Stel Festival : constructing heritage and the politics of pageantry

Hanekom, Wouter (2013-11)

CITATION: Hanekom, W. 2013. The Simon van der Stel Festival : constructing heritage and the politics of pageantry. Historia, 58(2):19-39.

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The Simon van der Stel Festival was celebrated as an annual event in Stellenbosch from 1967 to 2000, celebrating the town's colonial-Dutch heritage in the form of a birthday celebration dedicated to its founder. In particular the focus of this article falls on the reasons why such a festival was initiated and why Stellenbosch lent itself perfectly to the hosting of the event. Furthermore, its progress is tracked until its climax in 1979, which was the tercentenary festival that celebrated 300 years since the founding of Stellenbosch. Heritage construction, pageantry and "the cult of the centenary" are used to explain why this festival was launched; the significance of hosting such a festival in Stellenbosch; how it changed over time; who was actively involved in its organisation; what the implications were of hosting such a festival; and why the festival eventually came to an end. Moreover, the Simon van der Stel Festival will be compared to a similar festival - the Jan van Riebeeck Festival of 1952 - which celebrated the founding of Cape Town in a similar fashion, but with more overt nationalist overtones.

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