Story of Curries has finally been told

2014-06-30 00:00

AN architectural project to find a way to physically link the former ML Sultan Technikon campus with that of the former Natal Technikon helped unearth the rich history of Durban’s iconic Curries Fountain Sports Ground.

The result is a coffee table book that not only tells the history of Curries Fountain, but one filled with long lost and forgotten photographs of the era of non-racial sport and anti-apartheid protests.

Curries Fountain: Sports, Politics and Identity, by Leonard Rosenberg, Sam Moodley and Goolam Vahed was launched on Saturday at a lively function organised by the Pietermaritzburg Sports Veterans Association (SVA). Many of the veteran sports personalities present had played at Curries and were able to relate their own stories of experiences at the iconic sports ground.

Author Rosenberg said that’s been the response wherever they launched the book — an outpouring of stories and deep gratitude that the story of Curries has finally been told.

Rosenberg told the gathering how the book came about. He was the architect tasked with finding a way to link both campuses. In between lay the Curries Fountain Sports Ground.

“I am from Pretoria and knew very little about the area but after asking around, I found that everyone had a story to tell about Curries,” he said.

Yet there was no written history, just fading memories of a host of people. He said they started by holding an exhibition of the information they had and invited anyone associated with the grounds to bring in their own memorabilia. According to Rosenberg, it was touching to see how people had treasured their photographs and even ticket stubs from matches on the ground. “Families of former sport stars arrived with paper bags filled with photographs and each of them had stories to tell. So began the long process of documenting that information.”

Moodley, a veteran of the Black Consciousness Movement, became part of the project to document the political history of the grounds and surrounding area. She told the gathering that there was a rich history of resistance, yet this was selectively being told and the history of the ANC was the dominant narrative.

“In capturing the untold stories I was able to speak to Kader and Nina Hassim about the Non European Unity Movement (NEUM) and Lauretta Ngcobo told me about the PAC and resistance in this area,” said Moodley.

She pointed to community activist Babs Sithapersad sitting in the audience and said, “You have great men like Babs who brought non-racialism in sport; you need to honour them.”

The architectural project not only gave rise to the book on Curries Fountain but to a project known as the ­“Research of Curries and Surrounds (Rocs). A second book from the project was also launched on Saturday, entitled, The Making of Place: The Warwick Junction Precinct 1870s to 1980s.

Chairperson of the SVA, Ismail Bhamjee, thanked the authors for writing more than a history book. He said they captured the colour, the atmosphere and the social ethos of the period and brought to life the weird and wonderful personalities of that era including the gangs that ruled that terrain.

He said above all, they told the story of resistance and the resilience of communities who, despite oppression, were able to rise up and create their own unique history.

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