Identity challenges are universal, but those in South Africa are unique, also involving Dutch historic ties through trade and slavery.

Meeting of hearts and minds

Across the globe, individual and social identity has become a challenging question. South Africa, struggling with its legacy of Apartheid and colonial past, and The Netherlands, facing social tensions around immigration, both have their unique challenges. However, because of the VOC past, our histories are deeply connected. And the implications of these ties are felt today.

The #cocreateIDENTITY programme was created by the Dutch Diplomatic Missions in South Africa in partnership with Netherlands-based organisation DutchCulture. It ventures into the space of identity issues, the complex issue of who are we today and how that relates to the past.

Considering the Present, Acknowledging the Past, Looking to the Future 

The #cocreateIDENTITY programme features South African partners and Dutch/ South African collaborations exploring these questions in a meaningful way. For it to be meaningful, it requires engaging in difficult conversations about our histories, sitting with the uncomfortable truths, and driving a new trajectory for the future.

“We are connected. Arts and culture are carriers of basic values of our societies, but they challenge these  too, by pinpointing painful parts of who we are. Arts give us a platform where people from different backgrounds can meet and explore difficult challenges together.” - Han Peters, Ambassador of the Netherlands to South Africa

By diving into the past and present, we are empowered to co-create a shared better future.

Enter the #cocreateIDENTITY Experience

Bringing together several empowering and enlightening initiatives, The Netherlands Diplomatic Missions in South Africa present the #cocreateIDENTITY Experience. The programme, held at various significant venues, includes art, theatre, dance, music, heritage and food, as well as  discussions and dialogues.

The Experience will touch upon questions of heritage, narratives, dominant perspectives, nationality, language, and culture, etc. The #cocreateIDENTITY Experience is created out of conviction that by creating better understanding of the meaning of today’s identity challenges and the origin of these, we will face the present and the future most honestly and effectively together, as South Africans and Dutch. The #cocreateIDENTITY Experience is hopefully a contribution, a significant step in this possibly long journey.

We invite you to explore, listen and to learn with us as we stimulate the recognition of our mutual challenges and ambitions, and together, begin to drive effective, co-created solutions.

“Arts speak where we shy away. We intentionally chose arts and culture to dive into this complex, sometimes disturbing, at times beautiful and many a times heavy topic of identity. Today’s issues are related to the past, sometimes far past. Come see the #cocreateIDENTITY Experience. It will require an open mind and especially open heart to experience it really, but give it a real try,” - Sebastiaan Messerschmidt, Consul General for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cape Town.

4 – 6 June 2022

 All events free to public after entrance to Castle

  • Food Heritage Journey (Interactive)
  • Charting the Uncharted (Exhibition)
  • ONS Perspectief (Digital Performance)
  • Future for the Past (Film)
  • Camissa Memory Well (Museum Tour)

Krotoa (Eva van de Kaap)

Tickets R100 available through Artscape Theatre

  • 4 June 2022 | 18:00 - 19:30
  • 5 June 2022 | 12:30 - 14:00

To buy tickets, click here.

Future for the Past: Sites of Memory Performance

Free to public, first come first serve basis

  • 4 June 2022 | 11:30 - 12:00
  • 4 June 2022 | 14:00 - 14:30
  • 6 June 2022 | 11:00 - 11:30

New Exhibit at the Slave Lodge:

‘Who Were the Enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope'

Standard entry cost to Slave lodge

  • 4 June 2022 
  • 6 June 2022

5 June 2022 | 16:30 - Who are you? In conversation (Virtual) - Click here to join 

6 June 2022 | 15:00 - Uncovering Stories Panel Discussion (Virtual) - Click here to join

Camissa Memory Well | Camissa Museum

Biography of the Uncharted People

With a view to telling the stories of the people of the Cape, the Camissa Museum reveals the rich and complex history of Camissa Africans. These are the people who are portrayed by others as “coloured” throughout history – but is this how they identify themselves?

The journey through the Museum explores the emergence and progress of Camissa Africans from the year 1600 to the present – highlighting their great adversities, and their collective story of a people who rose above adversity and thrived.

Click here for more info 

Charting the Uncharted |  Biography of the Uncharted People

Stellenbosch Laboratory of the Economics of Africa’s Past (LEAP)    

The Biography of an Uncharted People project aims to document the histories of ordinary people often excluded from conventional archival sources using historical administrative records.

Charting the Uncharted, an art exhibit which paired researchers with prominent South African artists, aims to disseminate the results from the project to a wider audience. More information can be found at

Foraged Feast and Heritage Food Experience | The Domingo Effect Roots Food

A indigenous interactive plant exhibition with a Khoe musician and story teller.  Showcasing plants that are food and medicine. Once the Cape was covered in a beautiful and dense variety of indigenous plants that are food and medicine. Food from the land and sea healed our bodies and connected us to our ancestors, heritage, and traditions. The feast is intended to connect and engage. Locally foraged, this food has none the less travelled a great journey to your plate.

Future for the Past   | Sites of Memory Foundation

Sites of Memory presents Future for the Past; A journey back in time to the connected colonial past between The Netherlands and South Africa. Artists from both countries translated their vision to this history in music, poetry, dance, visual art and theatre. With this site-specific performance, Sites of Memory shares insight into how the colonial past plays a role in our present and to reimagine the future.

Click here for more info 

Krotoa (Eva van de Kaap) | Volksoperahuis and Artscape Theatre

Set in present day South Africa, this play takes the audience through the life of Krotoa - also known as “Eva van de Kaap” - from the time she is taken into Jan van Riebeeck’s household, to becoming the first Khoe woman to be baptised and officially marry a European. As a key negotiator and translator between the Dutch and the local people, her story is one of constant clashes of two cultures, with all the confrontation and drama that this entails.

Click here for more info 

ONS Perspectief  | BrotherTill

“ONS Perspectief” is a broad, interdisciplinary art project which delves into shared backgrounds, identities, and histories. As the name suggests, the artistic documentaries - originating from Dutch makers of BrotherTill and South African word artists - aim to publicise different perspectives on Dutch and South African life, building a powerful, evolving collective combining traditional and moving South African rap, ambient soundscapes, Cape folk and deep hip-hop beats.

Click here for more info

Who Are You?  | Fred de Vries 

South African journalist and presenter Africa Melane will sit in conversation with Fred de Vries and Francios Haasbroek to discuss the podcast series Who Are You?

Carefully curated by Dutch-South African travel writer, journalist, published author, music fundi and coffee shop intellectual, Fred de Vries, “Who Are You?” is a collection of a series of podcasts featuring key figures and stakeholders. The interviewees engage on the Transformation and Identity debate in both South Africa and the Netherlands. These podcasts serve as a digital archive of first-hand recollections and perceptions on this debate, seeking to spur the discussion to find powerful resolutions. 

Click here for more info

Who Were the Enslaved? Commemorating lives under enslavement at the Cape of Good Hope’ | Iziko Museums

In this new exhibition, we have renamed the spaces in the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum as we seek to answer the questions: Who were the enslaved? What work did they do? How did they manage to survive a new, unwelcoming and often violent environment once they arrived? How were they able to communicate with each other when they came from far-flung regions: South Asia, South East Asia, Madagascar, East Africa and initially West Africa? When exploring the ground floor, with its renamed rooms, the visitor will find the stories of the enslaved, free blacks, formerly enslaved and the Khoi.  In these spaces you will sense their resilience and bravery amidst great hardship.

This new exhibition humanizes and restores to memory the enslaved women, men and children who were brought to and kept at the Cape as chattel slaves.

Click here for more info 

Uncovering Stories | LEAP, Tracing History Trust, Iziko Museums

Revealing the processes and challenges of uncovering stories of forgotten people, Dr Kate Ekama, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, will host the Round Table with Antonia Malan, Tracing History Trust, and Dr.Linda Mbeki, Iziko Museums.

Dr. Linda Mbeki an assistant curator at Iziko and a postdoctoral fellow and the University of Pretoria. She is interested in the bioarchaeology of marginalised communities. Her work focuses on migration of enslaved persons to the colonial Cape, and workers to the gold and diamond mines during South Africa’s mineral revolution.

Dr Antonia Malan is a historical archaeologist with a particular interest in Cape families and extended households, their buildings and the objects they used.  She has engaged with issues related to diverse cultural sites and heritage resources, often controversial in nature. She and Dr Helena Libenberg founded the Tracing History Trust to make inaccessible archival information available to researchers, enabling people to trace their ancestors and life histories.

Click here for more info

Join the conversation

Where do conversations start? How do they evolve into healthy debate, and meaningful solutions?

The #cocreateIDENTITY Experience is meant for us to travel together into the question of who we are today, separately and together as South Africans and Dutch. It aims to lay the foundation for a journey where our burdened past helps us create a better future. We hope you will join this conversation and #cocreateSANL. Share your experiences with us and join the conversation on twitter and Instagram @cocreateSANL