The Iziko Slave Lodge Museum in Cape Town, South Africa faced declining visitor numbers, widespread apathy and the difficult task of keeping alive the memories of tens of thousands of slaves who were torn from their homes. The Museum needed a way to re-connect South Africans to this forgotten history, bring back visitors, try to get into mainstream media, and become truly relevant again.
Between 1653 and 1856, over 71,000 slaves were brought to Cape Town. They were stripped of everything including their names. Thousands were arbitrarily re-named after the month in which they arrived.Tens of thousands of South Africans still carry these “slave” surnames. This insight led to the creation of The Slave Calendar: a physical calendar featuring stunning portraiture of the living des- cendants of slaves who carry calendar month surnames to this day.
Due to a tiny production budget, zero media budget, general lack of public interest, and very few (if any) marketing staff, the calendar was sent directly to prominant South African personalities including Nobel Laurette Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille. It was through their endorsement that the Slave Calendar reached an audience of over 33.7 million, bring people back to the museum, and give voice to over 71,000 forgotten slaves.
The Slave Calendar was debated on the national news and on local and international talk radio stations, and was reprinted as a series of street pole posters by Cape Town’s leading newspaper. Visitor num- bers increased by 26%, bringing life back to these stories.