I was invited by the SA Navy Museum to attend the firing of the historical 9 inch Muzzle Loading Cannon at Middle North Battery in Simon’s Town at 12 noon on Heritage Day.
Unknown to me, but planned as part of the Navy’s Heritage day activities, was the arrival of 3 warships from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. We were fortunately in time for the arrival of the Uruguayan warship (the other 2 ships having docked earlier).
The ensuing display of 21 gun salutes by both the guest warship and the host nation was awesome to witness.
Thereafter, having packed in a picnic basket, we tucked into some sandwiches & coffee while we waited for the main event – the firing of the 9inch gun.
Below is an extract from the Governments website. It explains very nicely the rationale behind Heritage Day.
24 September [Heritage Day]
“The day is one of our newly created public holidays and its significance rests in recognising aspects of South African culture which are both tangible and difficult to pin down: creative expression, our historical inheritance, language, the food we eat as well as the land in which we live.
“Within a broader social and political context, the day’s events…are a powerful agent for promulgating a South African identity, fostering reconciliation and promoting the notion that variety is a national asset as opposed to igniting conflict.
“Heritage has defined as “that which we inherit: the sum total of wild life and scenic parks, sites of scientific or historical importance, national monuments, historic buildings, works of art, literature and music, oral traditions and museum collections together with their documentation.”
While we were waiting for noon, we were treated to a display of a mini-mortar firing. This mortar takes approximately 18 grains of gunpowder to produce a spectacular burst of flame from the muzzle.
At last it was speech time by Harry Croome of the Cannon Association of South Africa (Harry is also an active member of the Navy and serves as Warrant Officer in the SA Navy Museum), followed by the countdown.
Cameras at the ready and…5 4 3 2 1…pause…BANG!
Please visit the CAOSA website for more information and also for a list of planned activities. http://www.caosa.org.za/
See also my facebook page for a time lapse sequence of the firing: https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10151259546421528¬if_t=video_processed
There will be more occasions that this gun will fire…
Hint: I know that something is planned for 11 November (Armistice Day) and also for midnight 31st December…