History should be remembered not destroyed

2011-09-19 00:00

(September 12) carried two articles of concern. In the letters page, long-time campaigner for affordable and safe public pools, U. E. Rawat, again highlighted the Msunduzi Municipality’s failure to maintain the infrastructure at most of the public pools.

Sadly, the historic Berg Street Swimming Bath’s state of neglect and indifference by the municipality was emphasised. The history of this 46-year-old pool was part of our struggle for sports facilities during apartheid. The lack of interest by the municipality is utterly disgraceful, and displays its continuing dysfunctionality.

Secondly, those responsible for wanting to turn the Tatham Sports Ground into a residential village are ignorant of the rich history of the soccer grounds, and the meaningful role played by the late Judge Frederic Spencer Tatham. The Msunduzi Municipality should revisit its intentions after reading the excellent paper titled “Social Control and communal resistance: African Football in Pietermaritzburg 1920-1947”, by non-racial sports advocate Christopher Merrett.

Like the Berg Street Swimming Baths, the Tatham Ground was an integral part of the struggle for sports facilities under apartheid. Brookside ground has become home to a taxi rank and the Chatterton Road ground has been exploited for business development.

In essence, the only decent sports ground in the lower end of the city (outside those in Alexandra Park) is the Tatham Sports Ground, which ironically is in a state of neglect. Merrett correctly asserts in his paper that “... Tatham is the major remaining physical symbol, a place of nostalgic memory for those who worked in the anti-apartheid movement in the name of cricket. As a feature of Pietermaritzburg’s complex history, Tatham Sports Ground deserves greater respect than it appears to be receiving by way of preservation.”

Decent housing is essential, likewise is the city’s history. We will not be held to ransom by the residents of the Jika Joe informal settlement, residents who bullied the council for electricity, and brought great inconvenience to responsible ratepayers by their continued electricity theft, until recently. The late Judge Tatham and his wife are part of the rich past of Pietermaritzburg. Their legacy by way of the Tatham Sports Grounds and the Tatham Art Gallery must be understood and appreciated by all.

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