Death in early Johannesburg : Braamfontein Cemetery
Reflecting the demographic pattern of the surrounding city, the cemetery was strictly demarcated by religion and ethnicity, zones that are immediately apparent from even just a casual of inspection of the tombstones – or the lack of tombstones. “Civic fathers”, Mark Gevisser points out, “set boundaries in death as in life”:
On first glance it had, quite reasonably, to do with religion. The southern portion of the Old Cemetery [….] had been consecrated for Christian denominations – ‘Dutch Reformed’, ‘Nonconformist’, ‘Roman Catholic’, and ‘Church of England’ – while the northern portion seemed to be reserved for other faiths: ‘Chinese’, ‘Coolies’, ‘Cape People’, ‘Mahomedans’, ‘Kaffirs’, and – my favourite – ‘Christian Kaffirs’, this last exposing the fiction that it was about religion at all. It was, of course, about race.