District Six could get its name back

A view of Zonnebloem located near the phase three construction of District Six.

Zonnebloem could soon be renamed District Six after Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais officially applied to national government on Sunday for the name change.

This follows the District Six Museum calling on public support to rename Zonnebloem to District Six.

The boundary of Zonnebloem goes from Buitenkant Street to Roeland Street and Philip Kgosana Drive, then goes down Upper Cambridge Street and Selwyn Street, and moves down Newmarket Street, Christiaan Barnard Street and Darling Street.

The MEC’s spokeswoman, Stacey McLean, said the application had been forwarded to Ms Marais after the provincial government’s geographic names committee had supported it.

District Six Museum director Bonita Bennet said it was a small but positive step towards the restoration of the community.

“We celebrate this positive step but do not want to overstate it as a victory because the significant win remains tied to the return of people to an appropriately named and mapped District Six,” she said.

District Six Working Committee chairman Shahied Ajam said they fully supported the name change.

“Welldone,DistrictSix Museum. We commend you. We are a slowly healing,” he said.

The move to rename the neighbourhood follows the renaming of Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street. (‘Big yes for name change’, CapeTowner, August 22).

“Ain’t that a beautiful thing,” Mr Ajam said.

District Six Advocacy chairwoman Tania Kleinhans-Cedras said District Six was etched in the hearts and minds of those who had once lived there, defying apartheid.

“Healing and restitution should not be dependent upon the renaming. Ideally, it should be based upon the return of the generations who were forcefully removed under racist apartheid laws,” she said.

Ms Marais said: “It is hoped that the name change will clearly tell the community and residents of District Six that you have been seen, you have been heard and that you do belong.”

Ms McLean said that if the national geographical names committee approved Ms Marais’s application, it would be sent on to Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa for approval and to be gazetted, possibly by December.