Strengthened ties and laces as SA's slave race inspires Reunion Island

2018-05-23 16:30 - Saara Mowlana
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reunion island dancing ladies at a festival

Cape Town and Reunion Island has tied bonds - so tie your laces for Reunion Island's December race. (Photo: Supplied)

A packed and electric  8th edition of the Slave Route Challenge in Cape Town took place on Mother's Day - Sunday, 13 May - and saw 10 000 runners and athletes unite to celebrate the abolishment of slavery. It also saw ties grow between South Africa and the French Reunion Island.

This unique race, run and organised by Itheko SAC, runs deep with heritage and historical significance as participants weave through from City Hall through District 6, the Castle of Good Hope, Bo Kaap and to the Grand Parade. All of these sites hold historical importance in the city and were chosen to evoke that sense of history. Organisers chose them not just to show Cape Town's striking contrast and versatility, but also because many of the history born at these locations still lingers today. 

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Past Slave Route Challenge races have grabbed international attention and interest - including the Athletic League and Departmental Council of Reunion Island. Through the involvement of the Reunion-based French Embassy and its Cape Town counterpart, a partnership has been formed with the delegation of runners and coaches who came down to partake in the challenge. 

"The Slave Route Challenge is very well organised, with an amazing spirit along the day. A lot of people were there to support us and I will always remember the great moments in Bo-Kaap, with extraordinary landscapes," said Reunionese runner, Eddy Clements. 

slave route challenge reunion island group photo
The group of Reunionese runners and athletes as well as Itheko SAC members on race day at the Slave Route Challenge. (Photo: Supplied)

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Fellow Reunionese runner, Anne Atia, found the race to be an oustanding challenge. She elaborated that the Slave Route Challenge had flown by her without her noticing. She lamented over the surprises found along the race as well as the 'excellent' conditions. "I will keep these images in my memory," she concluded. 

Reunion Island will, in kind, hold a similar event on 20 December. The race will take place over the same time as the Festival Liberté Métisse. 

Laurent Amar, Consul General of France in Cape Town commented that this partnership with the City of Cape Town is a privilege. Amar found it great to witness such commemorative races that bring everyone together.

slave route challenge reunion island on stage
The Slave Route Challenge commemorates those who were subject to slavery and celebrates the abolishment of slavery in Cape Town and South Africa. (Photo: Supplied)

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He elaborated that it allows "people of all fitness levels, diverse backgrounds and varied interests can come together to pay homage to the abolishment of slavery, a blight on the common historical background of both our countries." 

Amar added that Reunion Island looks forward to their event in December as part of the Festival Liberté Métisse.

This Festival is one of the largest of many cultural events in Reunion Island. It has seen a growing influx of visitors since its opening in 2010 and visitors vary from people across the island to international cultural enthusiasts looking to indulge their senses in what Reunion Island has to offer.

It is a unifying event that celebrates Reunion Island as a land of freedom and a place where a combination of cultures live together harmoniously - and what a better way to celebrate it than with a race commemorating their freedom. 

young boy from reunion island
Tighten your laces, since they've tightened the ties, for the race in Reunion Island this December. (Photo: Supplied)