Bearing witness to the human cost of forced removals

Siona O’Connell's 'Impossible Return' brings to light the stories of families forced from their homes in Cape Town's Harfield Village in the 1970s

30 September 2019 - 09:47

That hurt is still there. We had a good, good childhood there (in Harfield), even though we were poor.

Anger, hurt, loss, rejection ... these feelings are familiar to the families who, in the early 1970s, were forced from their homes in Harfield Village, in Cape Town’s southern suburbs.

Siona O’Connell brings their stories to light. She examines the lost ways of life, and the sense of home and belonging experienced by these families.

David Brown’s images show what life was like in Harfield before the removals, and his images are echoed by recent photos of the same former residents.

Impossible Return bears witness to the human cost of forced removals which echoes down the decades to today.

Siona O'Connell was born in Cape Town and studied at UCT. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in African Studies. O’Connell is now based at the University of Pretoria as convener for museum and heritage studies. This programme preserves collections around themes such as history, the human, politics and culture.