For most people, December 1 is marked internationally as World Aids Day. But in SA it also marks Emancipation Day, the day slavery was officially abolished in this country in 1834.

More than 63,000 enslaved people were brought to the Cape between 1653 and 1808, mostly from the Indian Ocean territories.

Stripped of almost everything, including their identities, many of these slaves were renamed after the calendar month in which they arrived in SA.

This explains why so many people in the Cape have calendar-based surnames.

To mark this event, the Iziko Museums of SA are hosting an exhibition called My Naam is Februarie: Identities Rooted in Slavery at the Iziko Slave Lodge in Adderley Street.

Part of the exhibition is a calendar of black-and-white portraits of slave descendants, from John January to Regina December. The portraits were done by award-winning Cape Town photographer David Prior.

Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu has endorsed the calendar as an important part of "a story that needs to be told".

The exhibition will run throughout the holiday season until March 2017.

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