Donated by the first Dean and Mrs Brown in 1931 at a cost of 300 Pounds, it was the largest window ever to be made in South Africa. Designed by Michaelis lecturer CS Groves, it draws heavily on Bell’s painting of a Dutch landing party and a group of aboriginal Khoi and incorporates the UCT, Dutch and Cape coats-of-arms (incorporating van Riebeeck’s own and later granted to the City by Commissioner de Mist). The border of citrus fruit is an allegorical allusion to the Prince of Orange and incidentally the source of vitamin C so essential to fighting scurvy on the long voyages of sailing ships. It was the decision of the Dutch East India Company (VOC : Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) to establish a revictualling station to supply fresh produce at the Cape that commenced the whole story of modern South Africa bringing an alien European concept of land enclosure and water rights to indigenous pastoralists. The window blew in shortly after it was installed.
2. Bartholemev Dias erecting a padrao at the Cape 1488
Donated by Mr and Mrs J Whitford Griffiths and also designed and made by Groves, it recalls the quest for a sea route between Europe and the East and the role of Portuguese navigator-explorers Dias and Vasco da Gama whose initials appear in the border and their respective shields in the bottom left and right corners. Also in the border are more padraos (beacons), castle turrets and contemporary navigational aids like the sun, moon and stars. The group of Dias, monks charged with converting whoever they came across and soldiers, as insurance against hostile locals, is depicted in a non-specific location since Dias placed the beacons at many points along the Southern African coast proclaiming them for his patron and king Joao II, whose arms dominate the upper half of the window.
3. The Huguenots 1688
Groves’ third window was commissioned by Vice-Chancellor TB Davie and donated by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer whose arms surmount the design with the fleur-de-lis repeated in the border. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes drove French Protestant refugees to the Cape of Good Hope. They were rapidly incorporated into the fledgling colonial society and discouraged from maintaining their own distinct identity. Mainly settled in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, their viticulture skills and reputation for hard work are rather idealistically depicted in a mixed group that does not even allude to the slavery that made it all possible.
Again designed by Groves and donated by Sir Ernest, the theme of yet another European strand of South African history is drawn from Baines’ famous painting. The sponsored immigration scheme addressed the unemployment brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the need to populate the distant fringes of the Cape Colony with settlers in one stroke. It could not have foretold the misery and strife of the Frontier Wars nor the despair and depravation of shopkeepers and mill workers turned farmer. The dominant coat of arms is that of the 1820 Settlers Association and the border picks up the thistles, roses and shamrocks of the component groups and Scottish, Irish and English settler parties. Centre top are the arms of the Earl of Bathurst (and the town named for him), and clockwise East London, Port Elizabeth, the Cape of Good Hope and Grahamstown.
This was the last window to be made by Groves and it was paid for by members of the House at the time as well as alumni. It depicts an Atlantic sea battle, and the Battles of Monte Casino and El Alamein, all major theatres of the South African Union Defence Force represented by the springbok. The spitfire fighter acknowledges the pivotal role in aerial defence and training. The laurel wreath border associated with remembrance encloses (from bottom left and clockwise) the badges of SA Naval Forces, SA Engineers Corps, SA Tanks Corps, SA Air Force, SA Corps of Signals, SA Artillery Corps, SA Medical Corps and the General Service Badge of the Union Services. The badges are separated by medal and campaign ribbons (from the bottom up and repeated on both sides) – the 1939 – 45 Star, the Africa Star, the Italy Star and the Africa Service Medal, also known as Ouma’s Garter after General Smuts’ wife.
Designed by Mary Groves, who like her father lectured at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, the window was donated by the Chancellor, Harry Oppenheimer. It depicts another milestone in South African history when the Union of South Africa formed in 1910 after the conclusion of the South African War, was dissolved in 1960 after a narrow vote by the white electorate to become a Republic and quit the Commonwealth. The full Union of Coat of Arms quartered by the four provinces, features above the shields of each – the Transvaal, Natal, Orange Free State and the Cape Province. Below those are the shields of Bloemfontein (judicial capital), Pretoria (government capital) and Cape Town (legislative capital). The border picks up references such as proteas, wagon wheels, nativistic designs, fasces, and Judaic and Islamic symbols.
For the next 30 years National Party rule cast a dark shadow over both South Africa and UCT which did whatever it could push the boundaries of racialised higher education imposed by the State.
Four blank windows, the arrival of a long awaited a democratic South Africa in 1994, the initiative of Smuts Hall students under the leadership of Warden Jon File, the support of Vice Chancellor Mamphela Ramphele and the retirement of ever-generous Chancellor Harry Openheimer, aligned perfectly to bring about the opportunity to fill in the gaps in the South African story in the Smuts Hall stained glass windows for pre-colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid eras. They were all installed at the same time in 1996. Not only were the themes continued, but all the commissioned artists were connected to UCT’s Michaelis School of Fine Art.
The work of Zwelethu Methetwa is about slavery and oppression and reads from bottom to top depicting slaves as cargo and a slave auction. Slavery underpinned the Cape economy for just over two centuries and inter alia their tasks of pressing grapes, carrying fish and washing clothes are shown. The first Muslim school is depicted to remember the role of education and sense of identity for those in bondage. Islandlwana, the first time the British were defeated by the Zulu in 1879, shows the potential to resist colonial rule. Above that, SA Police baton charge civilians – a scene not unknown on the UCT campus in the 1970’s. The border of coffins alludes to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and the famous press image of the death of Hector Petersen in 1976 Soweto Riots. The topmost panel includes some of the instruments of resistance like the AK 47, petrol bomb and the tyre used to necklace and barricade, all surmounted by the ballot box at the centre of the broken chain.
In the central image, artist Lyn Smuts shows Nelson Mandela releasing a dove, taken from his first public appearance on the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall after 27 years of incarceration. He is wearing the academic robes of the honorary degree bestowed on him by UCT (bottom left) when Smuts Hall (bottom right) marked the start of the academic procession. He is standing on the floor of the House of Assembly with Jameson Hall in the background flying the new national flag. UCT eschewed the apartheid-era flag and discontinued the office of Visitor, held by the State President. The top half of the window shows Robben Island where he was imprisoned and the potent symbol of three Defence Force helicopters which trailed the new national flag at the inauguration of President Mandela at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 10 May 1994. The long queues of voters in South Africa’s first democratic election include many real faces drawn from historical images and press photographs. The outermost border shows the logos of all political parties that contested the first election interspersed by the X on the ballot paper. Those parties which won seats are depicted twice and others have ceased to exist, becoming historical.
The artist Ella Lou O’Meara drew this title from the national anthem, meaning “Africa raise your horn”. The key to this window is the shattered colonial map of Southern Africa and depictions of pre-colonial civilisations including the gold Mapungubwe rhinoceros manufactured near the banks of the Limpopo in the 12th Century. The great city of Zimbabwe, focal to the region before Portuguese exploration, remains as mysterious as its symbolic carved birds. The 9th Century Lydenburg terra-cotta heads are shown in the foreground. The role of cattle in African society is represented by a bull of Nguni breed and traditional crops of millet, sorghum and cotton are shown. Spindles and objects produced in the African Iron Age testify to industry and technology. The crowning panel of horns, drums and other musical instruments urge the celebration of a pre-colonial sub-continent.
The iconography used by artist Pippa Skotnes is draws on rock paintings and ethnographic collections. The inspiration is Kabbo an elderly San arrested for stock theft in 1869 and sentenced to two years hard labour at the Breakwater Convict Station. He was eventually taken into the Mowbray home of linguist Lucy Lloyd and philologist Wilhelm Bleek and taught them his /Xam language. The 13 000 page archive of lore, history, photographs and notebooks are owned by UCT and are a UNESCO-declared site of world memory. The wind is the theme of shamanism, ritual, initiation and the images of the hunt and religious belief are shown in animals inhabited or imitated in trance. The landscape is the Northern Cape where dolerite boulders and other shelters are rich in images of record, design and symbolism.