The Liberation Heritage Route maps out areas and buildings in Durban that have special significance in the story of South Africa’s struggle for a democratic nation. Some of the locations are less well known to the public than others, but few are quite as established in the lives of Durbanites as Warwick Triangle and the surrounding streets and markets.
Whether it’s driving though the organised chaos of weaving taxis and shouting traders, buying your weekly fruit and veggies from the Early Morning Market, or taking an out-of-towner on a tour of the Bovine Head Market, the people of eThekwini are bound to have regular contact with Warwick. What they might not be aware of though is its dark history of forced removals – initially home to large numbers of indentured Indian labourers, the area soon became a very racially diverse community, and was seen as a threat to the apartheid government, which had declared the area west of Warwick Avenue a White Group Area in 1963. But unlike many other parts of the country, residents were relatively successful in resisting the relocations, and Warwick succeeded in being one of the few inner-city black areas throughout the apartheid regime.
Today it continues to fight for its survival, managing to ward off property developers who view the prime real estate as a good investment for large commercial shopping centres. The various markets have become more established over time, community artworks help to create a sense of ownership, and with close to half a million commuters moving through the area daily, and thousands of street vendors, Warwick is an area of great interest both locally and internationally. The 2016 architecture biennale, currently taking place in Italy, features an exhibition on Warwick’s traditional muti market, showing its transformation from a neglected city highway overpass into the thriving market that it is today.
Times may have changed, but the spirit of Warwick is still alive and strong, showing no signs of letting up or giving up – you can’t help but feel alive when visiting the streets of Warwick.