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The Early Twentieth Century
(page 2)
Mother City
Many of the monuments and buildings that characterise Cape Town today were erected in the early twentieth century. Some, like Rhodes Memorial (1912) represent a nostalgia for the Imperial era, others celebrated the VOC era.

The 'Cape Dutch' movement begun by Cecil Rhodes inspired his architect Sir Herbert Baker and organisations such as The South African National Society. Numerous farm houses, Cape Dutch buildings, the Old Supreme Court and the Castle were preserved. Baker and his followers popularised building in the Cape Dutch style of gables, thatch, verandahs and whitewash.

Organisations such as the Van Riebeeck Society (1918) projected Cape Town as the 'Mother City' of South Africa, the cornerstone of its cultural heritage. They defined South Africa and its heritage in terms of the arrival of Europeans at the Cape.

Other developments consolidated Cape Town's place as a cultural centre. The University of Cape Town (UCT) was formally established in 1918 following bequests from mining magnates, and was built on land bequeathed by Rhodes from his Groote Schuur estate. The Campus buildings were completed in 1930 by J.M. Solomon, one of Herbert Baker's associates.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens were established in 1913, as a showcase for Southern African flora. The National Gallery was built with public gardens containing WWI war memorials. In 1930 the Place Name Committee decided that 'Capetown' be renamed Cape Town, as the former was considered undignified.

Although Cape Town asserted itself as the 'Mother City' of the South Africa, nevertheless there remained a strong attachment to the UK, and not only among English-speaking whites, but also among others who sensed that the new conservative order would treat them less favourably than the liberal regime of Britain.

The mood was well expressed during the royal family visit in 1947. The city arranged a series of flamboyant spectacles to welcome King George and his family from banquets to firework displays, balls, reviews and garden parties that included mock 'Malay' weddings. The connection to Britain helped Capetonians feel part of the international community which was perceived to be 'civilised'.
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