The Fight for Trafalgar High School – 1984

The principal of Trafalgar High, Mr. G. Emeran, reacted angrily when he was
told his school was destined to become a Primary School for White children.

Trafalgar High School in District Six, South Africa’s first High School for Coloured people, is destined to become a Primary School for White children after a distinguished academic life spanning of 72 years. The headmaster of the school, Mr. G. Emeran, said: “This is the first I heard of this. It is a tragedy and it shows the authorities have no respect for us.

The school building will be used as a Primary School in a residential development in the newly zoned White area of District Six. It is not clear when the school will be taken over, but indications are that it will not be in the near future. The Press liaison officer for the Department of Internal Affairs, Mr. Noel Eales, said the department was aware that the buildings were destined to be used a White Primary School.

Mr. Emeran said: “This school is a living monument to what was District Six. It is difficult to say how I feel now that I hear we will be forced out. Mr. Emeran said he would call a meeting with the school committee to discuss the issue. “The parents must be told and they will have to decide what action to take.”

Negotiations by the Department of Education to acquire Trafalgar High School site in District Six had to be stopped, Mrs. Bishop told the Provincial Council. The school was a “living, thriving institution, packed to capacity by many of the children of its original pupils, ” Mrs. Bishop said. I believe the Cape Education Department should be very proud of its past associated with the school – it was run by the Cape Education Department from its founding until 1964, when it was taken over by central Government, by the Department of Coloured Affairs.” The once flourishing residential area, which previously harboured the ‘first’ coloured high school in South Africa, is now a memory for its late inhabitants.

Cape Herald spoke to a few “old Trafalgarians” to get their feelings on this matter. They were all against the closure. Dr. Richard Rive, head of the English Department at Hewat College, matriculated at the school in1947. Frank Quint and Professor Richard “Dick” van der Ross matriculated in 1939. They felt that the City Council was being hypocritical when it says that the school will have to be improved before being suitable for use as a white school.

Trafalgar High School has been existence since 1912 when it started with 60 pupils and 5 teachers. Instead of bubbling excitement on the last day of the term before the midyear bread, there was a stirring sadness. They were not shy to speak and express their feelings:
“Why? Asked a young girl. “That is all we want to know. Why?” The spirit of Trafs would never die, she said.

Principal Mr. Goosain Emeran said he could not comment any further on the situation following instructions from the department.
There may be equipment and facilities that the school lacks, but not enthusiasm and dedication.

“Trafalgar represents everything that we have achieved. Our only weapon we have is in our mind, to think, and to argue. Trafalgar High School is the perfect place to educate ourselves, “said matric pupil Shafeeka Abrahams, 16, secretary of the cultural society, which was dedicated itself to fight for Trafs survival. The final verse of the school song could be a barometer of this feelings of thos who passed through Trafalgar.

It may be great poetry, but that is not the issue. It merely shows how the pupils of Trafalgar High School are bleeding. They are bleeding for that which they consider theirs, their parents’ and their grandparents.