Pietermaritzburg’s rich heritage

2015-09-23 06:00
PHOTOS: supplied

Early picture of Pietermaritzburg, dated 1848.

PHOTOS: supplied Early picture of Pietermaritzburg, dated 1848.

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FROM street names to buildings to religions and sport, Pieter- maritzburg is rich and unique with a multitude of heritage that encompasses all cultures and races.

One of the places to visit for a better understanding of the City of Choice is the Msunduzi Museum incorporating the Voortrekker Complex, which not only exhibits the variety of heritage, but has gone through a transformation process incorporating the changing environment of PMB..

Elrica Henning, Chief Research Officer at the museum, said that Pietermaritzburg is full of culture.

“Our city is vibrant with culture and heritage. This is what makes the museum so interesting as it incorporates a variety of cultures and various expansions has made this possible.”

One of the earliest dated buildings in Pietermaritzburg built and used by the Voortrekkers is on the property of the museum. The Church of the Vow is in its original location, and although the façade has been revamped, the foundation stone remains the same and is dated back to the early 1840s.

The church was built by Dutch Reformed Church members, but it has been used by a variety of cultures and denominations over the years.

Henning said there are various buildings in the city that hold special significance in terms of heritage. Voortrekkerhuisie at 333 Boom Street, is reputed to be the oldest double-storey house in Pietermaritzburg. Macrorie House, a Victorian-style house built in the late 1800s, was home to Bishop Macrorie and is a perfect display of the Victorian influence in Pietermaritzburg.

Historical artefacts date back hundreds of years and can be viewed at the museum including a Voortrekker’s ox wagon, reputed to be the second oldest in South Africa, and King Dingaan’s chair.

Pietermaritzburg also has a diverse religious heritage where no single religion dominates. The Sri Siva Soobramaniar and Marriamen Temple in town is one of the oldest temples and a figure of one of the original deities is at the museum as well as a small Replica Indian temple which can be found on site. City churches and mosques can be dated back many years with some being over 100 years old.

Over the years even the street names were changed to fully represent the heritage of the city. Initially the early settlers named the streets with mainly Dutch names.

Thereafter, during the Victorian era, names were added to reflect the people of significance at the time which included Prince Alfred Street and Victoria Road. Five years ago names were changed again to fully represent the struggle heroes of Pietermaritzburg giving birth to Alan Paton Avenue, Chota Motala Road and Reggie Hadebe among others.

“The cultural diversity of Pietermaritzburg has led to a multi-themed museum which represents as much of our history and heritage as possible.

We’ve tried our best to create a link between different cultures and our beautiful Pietermaritzburg,” said Henning.

The Msunduzi Museum, in partnership with KwaZulu-Natal Museum, will be hosting a Heritage Day walk through the city.

For more information, contact the museum at 033 394 6834/5/6

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