On February 11 1966, District Six was declared a “whites only” area by the then apartheid government. Thousands of people were forcibly moved to far-reaching areas on the outskirts of the city. The commemoration also serves as a reminder of the importance of declaring District Six a National Heritage Site.
The District Six Museum has been spearheading an initiative through a petition to protect and declare the area a National Heritage Site and is calling on communities, the City of Cape Town, the provincial and national governments to heed the call of the people to protect the area.
“The commemoration is two-fold. Firstly, it is a reminder of the range of legacies left within communities who were forced to forge a life together after they were displaced under racially defined laws, as well as the unfinished business of land restitution, and of the ongoing current displacement of people even as we inhabit the space of the new South Africa,” said Bonita Bennett, director of the District Six Museum.
“Secondly, it is to bring to the fore the urgency to declare District Six a National Heritage Site. It was hoped that by now it would have been completed, and on this occasion we would like to reiterate the call, emphasising the important link that exists between such declaration and the return of the District Six community and their descendants.”
The walk of remembrance is a reminder of the issues linked to the forced removals of millions of people across the country under apartheid which continue to plague us even up to today, said Ms Bennett, adding that it is also a show of unity amongst the people of District Six and Cape Town.
She said: “The contested site of District Six functions both on the realm of symbolism and as a very tangible, physical tract of land which continues to be the source of pain and disappointment as claimants continue to feel excluded and unheard within a troubled restitution process.
“At the same time, it has also been the source of so much hope, as the possibility of rebuilding a diverse coherent community in the reconstituted District Six drives their desire to return.”
The walk of remembrance will take place on Sunday February 11, from 2pm, from the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, at 15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town.
This year’s walk will be led by the current chairperson of the District Six Museum board of trustees, Judge Siraj Desai, and former residents of District Six. For more information, contact the District Six Museum at 021 466 7200 or firstname.lastname@example.org