Helen Southern-Holt

‘On my programme, as I sat planning, I wrote “Eos”, the beautiful Greek word meaning “dawn” – Eos … Eoan … pertaining to the dawn. And so I named the new group Eoan, in the consciousness that through its illumination the coloured people could realise the dawning of a new cultural expansion in themselves, and a new understanding of well-being, physical and mental, for their race.’

With these words, Helen Southern-Holt, a British immigrant living in Cape Town, described the beginnings of a small cultural and welfare organisation for the coloured community in District Six in Cape Town. Situated within the city centre, District Six was a multi-cultural neighbourhood until 1968, when coloured and black people were forcibly moved to other settlements outside the city centre as the Apartheid laws regarding the Group Areas Act stipulated. The Eoan Group, founded in 1933 by Southern-Holt, was to become South Africa’s first grassroots opera, dance and theatre company.

Every artist was first an amateur

Ralph Waldo Emerson