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The multigenerational business of blooms

The history and characters of the Trafalgar Place Flower Market are explored in Blomdraers, a special two-part doccie on kykNET
Thu, Dec 31, 2020

In downtown Cape Town, tucked away in a pedestrian alley called Trafalgar Place, you'll find the Adderley Street Flower Market. For more than 100 years, this has been the hub for grandmothers, mothers and daughters who teach every new generation the business of blooms.

It is said that the first flower seller was commissioned by the (now-defunct) Stuttafords department store to provide wildflowers for resale. After store delivery, she sold her excess bouquets to passers-by on Adderley Street. Others followed suit and a cottage industry was created. The generations of women selling flowers on Adderley Street call themselves blomdraers (flower carriers) and rotate their stands in a clockwise fashion to give everyone a chance to sell flowers at the top spots with lively foot traffic.

Blomdraers focuses on the history of the 150-year-old flower market and the route the blooms take from the Gauteng farms and flower auctions at Multiflora in Johannesburg, to the hands of Adderley street's flower sellers.

Fadielah Gamildien (or Deelia, as her friends call her) caught many viewers' attention on another kykNET show, Die Siener, with her pithy comments and surprised looks when her energy was 'read' by a psychic at her flower stall.

In Blomdraers, we meet Deelia's family at their home in Grassy Park, where she tells us more about her life among flowers. I dare you not to shed a tear when she opens up about recent tragedy. You'll also meet Cecilia, the oldest blomdraer at the market. Their stories make up the flowering seeds of the history of the market.

"For the first time on television, Blomdraers tells the true story of the legendary flower sellers of the Cape," says producer Rian van Heerden. "How the flower market started, what their impact was on the Cape, its flora and their people through generations and how blomdraer Fadielah Gamildien succeeded in changing the date of the opening of parliament."

Some of the flower sellers remember helping their moms and grans create bouquets when they were five or six years old and others recount how it's all-hands-on-deck on special days like Valentine's Day or Eid.

A visit to the market will keep you up to date with current affairs, local gossip and tales told by boisterous characters with hearty laughs – with the bonus of taking home a delightful bunch of flowers. The show is more than a history lesson, and certainly more than a floral spectacle.

Blomdraers captures the soul of a culture kept alive by blooms.

  • Part 2 of Blomdraers airs on 6 January at 8.30pm on kykNET (DStv channel 144)