The Sex and Slaves walking tour provided me with a unique look at Cape Town‘s rich history, something I thought I knew all about being a local and all. At the end I was invigorated and had a new take on our history, but I didn’t start my day too enthused.
The idea of the tour made me nervous – the history of Cape Town, specifically slavery, with entertaining street performance. Having been a high school teacher, I have seen all manner of “educational theatre”. It is often trite, skips huge details and, worst of all, can make the audience cringe with embarrassment for the performers.
Sex and Slaves was completely different. We were met be Samantha and Dean, two relaxed and friendly guides who made the small group feel instantly welcome. When they burst into song for the first number of the tour, they did it with such confidence and vigour that they immediately drew in the audience. Their unabashed enjoyment of the tour and performances (of their own creation) made it entertaining, informative and in no way cringe-worthy. Samantha and Dean also easily swapped between street performers and regular tour guides, answering questions and sharing interesting facts as we walked between sites.
The tour begins in Green Market Square, heads up into Bo-Kaap, down to the Castle via the Golden Acre (which houses Cape Town’s oldest ruins, who knew!) and through Church Square, behind the Slave lodge and ends at the Adderley Street entrance of the Company’s Garden.
From the first slaves to arrive in the Cape (only 11 in two years) to the abolition of slavery in 1834, Samantha and Dean clearly know their facts, but keep it light and interesting with their excellent chemistry and ability to use parody, melodrama and good old song and dance.
One of the great aspects of the tour is that the skits and songs take place right out in the open. At each stop at least one bystander joined our group to watch. One gentleman even offered his hat so Samantha and Dean could collect money! People were drawn to the energy of the tour and a group of young men really enjoyed the mock slave auction performed at Church Square, applauding as we moved on.
But what about the sex part of the tour? Don’t worry this is not a tour of Cape Town’s seedy underground, but rather looks at how sex was a major factor in many slaves gaining freedom and creating our diverse population today.
Visitors to Cape Town and locals alike should get out there and experience a walk like no other. If you know your history, you will find the quirky presentation stimulating and if you knew nothing, you will not only walk away with some insight into Cape Town’s history, but some great stories to tell.
At the moment, tours run when there is enough demand, but will hopefully be running Monday to Saturday soon.
Tickets for the tour are R150.