[1] made it so ineffably real, ought not

1 Kevin Patrick Grant, “”A
Civilised Savagery”: British Humanitarian Politics and European
Imperialism in Africa, 1884-1926,” (Berkeley: University of California, 1997),


2 Vivian Bickford-Smith, “South
African Urban History, Racial Segregation and the Unique Case of Cape Town?,”
Journal of Southern African Studies
21, 1 (1995): 67.

3 Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni,
“Genealogies of Coloniality and Implications for Africa’s Development,”
Africa Development / Afrique Et Développement
40, 3 (2015): 18.

4 Ibid.

5 Ivan Turok, “Persistent
Polarisation Post-Apartheid? Progress Towards Urban Integration in Cape Town,”
Urban Studies 38, 13 (2000): 2361.

6 Leonard Monteath
Thompson, A history of South Africa,
3rd ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 111.

7 Ibid., 110.

8 Ibid.

9 Vivian Bickford-Smith, “Black
Ethnicities, Communities and Political Expression in Late Victorian Cape Town,”
The Journal of African History 36, 3
(1995): 462.

10 Shirin Rai, “Analysing
ceremony and ritual in parliament,” The
Journal of Legislative Studies 16, 3 (2010): 285.

11 Shannon Jackson, “Cape
Colonial Architecture, Town Planning, and the Crafting of Modern Space in South
Africa,” Africa Today 51, 4
(2005): 45.

12 Andrew Cusack, The Houses of Parliament, Cape Town, retrieved
from: http://www.andrewcusack.com/2009/die-parlementsgebou/

13 Ibid.

14 Sophia Gray, Extensions to the Houses of Parliament. In: Sophia Gray Memorial
Lecture and Exhibitions, 24, retrieved from: https://issuu.com/joh_designs/docs/sophia_gray_volume_1/34

15 John and Jean Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1997), 219-220.

The Houses of Parliament’s political and
architectural representations were indicative of a form of slavery – a form
that ultimately transformed into racism from a lack of cultural considerations
that were missing within the legislation
that governed the city.


The treatment of Cape Town residents signified the general lack of
democracy, and ultimately was the result of an imbalance of power within the
Houses of Parliament. Colonialism not only made the lack of proper legislation
more apparent, it translated to the design of the parliament building. And what
was most peculiar about the building was its representation of democracy that
was always lacking behind the ideals of one group, which triumphed over



most elaborate
social formations arise from such quotidian acts.”15

on modest terrain,
in simple acts of fabrication, use, exchange. Even the

not least those
set in train by European colonization, usually root(ed) themselves

made it so
ineffably real, ought not to be underestimated. Cultural revolutions,

threads and
passions. Indeed, the banality of imperialism, the mundanities that

by consumption,
that tied peripheries to centers by potent, if barely visible,

up dependencies.
All of which conduced to a form of bondage, of conquest

stylized objects,
on disseminating desire, on manufacturing demand, on conjuring

fiat, or bodily
exploitation. They also relied heavily on the circulation of

built not merely
on the violence of extraction, not just by brute force, bureaucratic

for (cf. E. Wilson
1985:14). As worlds both imagined and realized, they were

early modern
European empires were as much fashioned as forged or fought

“A general point
here: it may be argued that, over the
longer run as well,

        The impacts of slavery
and capitalism that were subjected by the British and Dutch colonizers was
undoubtedly a significant problem with respect to the black ethnic groups. The
colonizers essentially ‘fashioned’ the slave workers, as described by John and
Jean Comaroff in 1997:




The building’s adaptation with the greater
urban fabric of the city, with respect to the cultures that occupied the city
grounds, ultimately dictated the building’s relationship with the public. The
direction and types of expansion that occurred, served to either improve or
diminish the significance of the building to the Cape Town residents.


Exterior additions to the Houses of Parliament (Figs.1-3), have historically been of political
nature, made by commissions directed at the architects of the building. The
east-west extension of the building not only portrayed the dominance of
imperial rule through politics and style within Cape Town, but it more
generally signified the city’s direction towards European modernity with the
application of modern materials, heavy man-made structures that were less
forgiving to nature, and more inclined towards the enlightenment way of
thinking – that of producing, only to produce more.



Figure 3.      A rough
plan sketch of the Houses of Parliament showing the approximate
time period of each addition to the building.14

Figure 2.      Additions to the Houses
of Parliament, as depicted with subsequent modifications.13




Figure 1.      Subsequent modifications
made post-1878 to the Houses of Parliament.12


    The interior program of the
parliament building can transform the politicians’ connection with the public.
As you analyse the conventional plan organization of the main floor of the parliament,
there is less indication of any major public consideration, and this, in
addition to the orientation of seating areas (in linear, circular, or
rectangular fashion), and the types of areas for deliberation, can alter the
intensity of dialogue and orient where government members convene.


public engagement can occur in various ways, but architecturally, there are perhaps
two ways this can occur. Firstly, by altering the inner program of the
building, in literally intertwining spaces occupied by politicians with public
spaces. Secondly, by altering the outer form of the building, physically
applying a meeting space for government members and citizens groups, and having
it oriented towards other public spaces to improve dialogue on important
issues, and to figuratively and literally mesh the House to the greater urban
fabric of the city.


       One approach to potentially
divert racism relates to the design of the parliament, its ability to engage
the public, and its programmatic organization. The Houses’ form, ornamentation,
and architectural style are important factors in changing the perception of the
Cape Town residents. It can affect how the people associate with politics, but
it can also dictate the livelihood of the people. This, in addition to the
location of the parliament, and whether it was considered together with the
location of neighbourhoods, and other
residential areas could be reconsidered in order to positively impact public
accessibility. This could entice greater community involvement by allowing
citizens better access to the policies that affect their lives as consumers and
employees of the city.


slavery to racism: ways of modifying the parliament’s design, and its
programmatic organization to tackle systematic racism


         The problem rooted
within the occupation of the building itself was indicative of the Colonial
presence within the city, and the role of the House as it pertained to the
legislation that was being passed. Even though many of the laws passed favoured private interest, they were secondary
to the deeper problem within parliament proceedings. Government regulations did
not for the most part account for cultural differences inherent to the
demographics of the city. The people, who experienced the brunt of the effects
of segregation were more or less the primary contributors to the city, and
without them, the city would cease to
exist. Another problem with the House was its inability to integrate public
interests. The space between the government and the public grew, as the
parliament lacked no physical forum for community involvement, and this
decreased the public’s focus on provisions that affected their respective communities.
City officials were looking for ways to reforms the city, and the sprawl
relating to the nineteenth century increased the need for new expenditures that
would positively affect the lives of the citizens, as well as the stakeholders
and private parties that were apart of the city.11 Although the parliament
disseminated legislation on services that would benefit the city, specifically
on the improvement of citywide
infrastructures: including roads, walkways, and electricity – the development
of modern architectures with heavy western influences still lacked the
necessary programs for ethnic minorities that accounted for the bulk of the
city’s population. Although the natives of Cape Town were the primary occupiers
of the lesser developed regions of the city (the periphery, and portions of
rural Cape Town), their needs were still the least considered within
parliamentary proceedings. The parliament failed to truly represent the people,
and this highlighted an inherent paradox. The building as a parliament was
supposed to be democratic, but its agenda primarily served the Colonial regime.
Although this was arguable, it became
more apparent when looking at the architectural style of the building. The
neoclassical, Cape Dutch styles of the building symbolized a form of slavery
and the inherent paradox of the Houses of Parliament.


representation in promoting civic engagement


This was more apparent within a South
African context, as the proportion of non-white populations were greater, and
this stressed the importance of having laws that were specific to the demands
of groups classified as ‘minorities’. The minority groups, who were considered
part of the lower to middle social classes were affected the most, in terms of their
wages being discounted (as a means of creating more opportunities for the industrial
sector), and their lifestyle and ability to afford products and services as
consumers. By indirectly separating and segregating the people, through
capitalistic desires for greater city development, greater resource extraction,
and greater urban integration of the white population, the colonialists
successfully created differentiation which subsequently broadened the
contradiction of the parliament building.5The citizens of Cape Town
were mostly subjected to labour related
to mining. The mining industry during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century was at the beginnings
of its procedures, as the geographical context of South Africa made it
difficult for the Colonialist to acquire and to more generally ship needed
technologies to excavate mines more efficiently.6 The lucrative nature of
the diamond resource that was plentiful near the Cape Town coast, was one
reason for the increased desire for mining.7 Diamonds, in addition to Gold
and other natural resources that were extracted within Cape Town, improved the
commercial and mercantile nature of the city and stressed the low wage labour of the African population8 (ethnic groups including
the Zulus, and Xhosa peoples). As the technological condition of Cape Town
improved approaching into the middle of the eighteenth century, the British
colonizers were then able to divert the intensity of labour into mining and onto
other ventures, to explore other avenues for economic growth and to increase
capitalism and economic development, and to strengthen their dominance over the
native peoples. For the Colonialists, capitalism signified power, and the
desire to gain more created greater separation between social classes, and this
subsequently led to the feeling of discrimination. The black Africans in Cape
Town were the subject of various forms of segregation, notably the residential
form, of which they were strongly against, but were powerless because of the
rule of power governing the city.9 Parliament buildings also
signified the inception of modern capitalism.10 Although the state of
Cape Town was in strife during the Apartheid era from changes in government leadership
and the backlash witnessed from the people, the implication of the
enlightenment period became increasingly apparent with respect to the
architectural development of the city, and the adopted architectural styles
that were used on parliament buildings. But this highlighted another major
problem about parliamentary buildings. Their composition and role were trampled
under other government priorities that were driven by economic growth.

 “‘European world order’ refers to an international
political-economic system that emerged between the sixteenth and twentieth
centuries and laid the foundation for an international legal framework and
system, including maritime and company law as we know them, that came to be dominated
by European states and people of European descent around the world.”4  

During the pre-Apartheid era, the concept of slavery was widespread and
was used as a way to impose labour onto
the general population of Cape Town. Although it was highly debatable as to the
exact moment when specifically the British and Dutch subsumed slavery as a form
of generating profits, it was more apparent in terms of the effects it had on
the people. This idea of a world order, a European world order best-reflected colonialism, and was best
explained by Glenn Willemsen and Kwame Nimako in 2011 and 2013.3


for enslavement and interracial implications


  It was during the occupation of
British and Dutch colonizers during the mid-to-late nineteenth century that
Africans of Cape Town underwent enslavement that subsequently initiated the
concept of racism within South Africa. Slavery, as a form of racism in Cape Town, became possible through legislation
within the Houses of Parliament, and other government buildings that would
organize the collection of government members to create laws to govern the
people. The organization of government took the specific form of a
parliamentary building led by British imperialists, of which lacked a
comprehensive understanding of the historical significance and identity of
South African cultures and architecture. The discrepancy between the leaders
and the people subsumed under rule was a primary problem during the
colonization period of the early 1800s and continued to be a prominent issue
that required further investigation in order to provide a detailed
understanding of the role that parliaments play in improving interracial
relations. Analysing the design of parliaments are one way of altering race
relations. This approach, in addition to examining the Houses’ context and
member representation, can be used as a framework for other parliamentary
buildings within other African and western contexts on how to improve upon
current race relations, and how to improve legislation
that would vilify areas experiencing systemic racism, and provide solutions
that would better incorporate public interests.


paper sheds light on the relationship between the Houses of Parliament and colonialism
within South Africa. The late nineteenth century was important as it marked an
increase in slavery from European influences, and led to staged protests by the
British against the Houses’ proceedings.1 British and Dutch
imperialism within Cape Town during the mid-to-late nineteenth century dictated
the form of architecture that was built within the city, specifically the
advent of the Cape Dutch style, and the use of the neoclassical style, which
opened up a paradox between the Houses of Parliament, and the way South
Africans were represented. This problem was essential as colonialism molded the
collective architectural landscape of South Africa into a western form, less
representative of the African inhabitants of Cape Town, and signaled a lack of democracy within legislative
proceedings. The contradiction of the Houses of Parliament, as a building
purposed to represent the people, but instead imposing the ideals of one group
over the other, was a prominent issue faced by many nations. The form of the
parliamentary building, its context, and its ability to eradicate slavery was
an important disciplinary issue to South Africa and other ethnically-imbalanced
forms of government. In conducting comparisons of elements of the parliamentary
building in Cape Town, its public access, and the scale and focus of public
issues it addressed based on colonial occupation, I will provide insight on
when racism began taking its form. The very idea of control and exploitation
through slavery in Cape Town led to racism. It should be noted that racism was
prevalent well before the implication of wage labour
within the Afrikaner republic.2
this specific case, South Africa became occupied due to its mineral resources,
and from the exploitation and commercialization of these resources for profit
through enslavement and wage labour, two
key forms of colonization that were possible through ethnic imbalances, and
through legislative decisions. I will approach this problem in three ways: how
the design of the parliamentary building encouraged greater ethnic variety and
civic engagement, how its design translated to its occupation, and what this
meant for the architectural landscape of the city and the types of architecture
that represented the people.






The Houses of Parliament in the
ratification and transformation of slavery in Cape Town, South Africa