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Cover Story – April 2015

Our April cover depicts the restored Slave Bell at Spier Wine Farm, which was built by Van der Byl in 1825. Spier is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa with a recorded history dating back to 1692.

Recording its African renaissance, the Spier 21 Gables audio walk takes visitors on a journey into the history of South Africa’s ‘Fairest Cape’. The motivation behind this audio project came from the realisation that the Spier farm has more surviving Cape Dutch gables — 21 in total — than any other farm, reflecting almost the full spectrum of architectural styles.

One is given a headset and an audio device like the ones used in art galleries and museums and the stations are numbered along the Spier pathways. Theatre director and playwright Brett Bailey researched the history of the farm and set the audio narrative in 1836. The story is told in 12 short chapters narrated by Sannie de Goede, the ghost of a fictional slave on the eve of her freedom, sensitively portrayed by the expressive Jill Levenberg. Emancipated in 1834, slaves still had to work a four-year apprenticeship for their freedom to be finally granted on December 1 1838.

“Ring your bell, meneer, ring it loud for soon it will be quiet,” she says.

Sannie invites you to visualise the past by taking your cues from the remnants still at hand — the old buildings, the slave bell, an outcrop of rocks, the trees and the Eerste River. Far more than a tale of suffering, punishment and oppression, there is rebellion, the heartbreak of love, romance, smoking dagga — and happiness, too. We also gain insight into the early days of winemaking in the Cape and an appreciation for the artisanal abilities of the slaves. It is a meditative experience that leaves one refreshed and with a deeper sense of place and time; a more meaningful connection with the past surrounding us gradually made visible.

Besides its historical significance and award winning wines, there is so much more to experience at Spier. In this edition, we review Spier’s Conference and Event facilities (see pages 16-18 in the Tourism Tattler April edition here or read the online feature article here).

And finally, a reminder to the South African travel trade – don’t forget to enter the 2015 Lilizela Tourism Awards. Entries close on 15 May 2015, so the sooner you register, the sooner you can accumulate those all important votes.

Yours in Tourism,

Des Langkilde. editor@tourismtattler.com