:: Building The Fish Traps - Mural 2018 ::

:: Melkhoutfontein, Stilbaai, Western Cape, South Africa::
:: February & March 2016 - March & April 2017 - February & March 2018 ::

About the Project    Progress    Murals 2016    Murals 2017
Murals 2018    Murals 2019    Encounters with the Swift People

Building Fish Traps    Milkwood Tree    Making Ochre    Under the Milkwood    Swift Ppl 6    Building Fish Traps    Making Ochre At Blombos    Swift Ppl 7

:: 2018 - 8.8m x 6.8m (approx) - Emulsion on Side Elevation ::
:: Judene & Family's House, Melkhoutfontein, Western Cape, South Africa ::
:: Deep gratitude to fellow mural realisers Jason 'Kopa' Joyo, Adrian Solomon, Lindy Bishop & Chris Rimell ::

All along the southern coast of Stilbaai is an amazing technology built by the Khoekhoen people: the fish traps. These are semi-circular stone walls on the shoreline that when the tide comes in provide shelter for fish - when the tide goes out, the fish get trapped, and the Khoekhoen could easily gather the fish for food. This required expert knowledge of the tides, and detailed understanding of how to construct walls using nothing but stone. Some of the fish traps have been archaeologically dated to 3000 years ago.

However, some organised residents of Stilbaai now want to claim that it might have been the colonial Dutch people who built these traps 300 years ago (against the findings of anthropologist Michael de Jongh, world-renowned archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood, and the oral testimonies of descendants of the first Khoekhoen nation). They want to say this to bring more South African tourists to the town, but it is against all archaeological and scientific consensus of the history of the fish traps. Since the people of Melkhoutfontein used to live where Stilbaai is now - they were moved inland during the Apartheid era - this is obviously part of the continuing attempts to dispossess the people of Melkhoutfontein of their ancient history and roots in this region.

Melkhoutfontein is still a fishing community now, and many people here still go out to sea, even though they now live 7 miles from the coast, and as such this piece of prehistory is becoming much more important to the community. It represents tangible evidence of their roots in the local landscape. To counter this rather absurd attempt at dispossession, this mural has been painted in Melkhoutfontein, showing the Khoekhoen building the fish traps. We are laying claim to the historical truth: the Khoekhoen, the ancestors of the people of Melkhoutfontein, built these ingenious devices, not the incoming Dutch. Perhaps the colonial people might have built a few traps under Khoekhoen instruction, but it should always be recognised that the Khoekhoen were the undoubted innovators of this technology.

Building the Fish Traps

Building the Fish Traps 2

Building the fish traps 3


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