Hanover Street is back on the map

Keizersgracht Street will be renamed Hanover Street on Heritage Day, September 24.

Keizersgracht Street will finally be renamed to Hanover Street, after the City Council approved the change last Thursday, August 22.

Mayor Dan Plato, who has supported the name change process, says he is pleased with the council’s decision.

“I would like to thank the people from District Six, the NGOs, the organisations and residents taking part in this well- run professional process,” he said.

The District Six Working Committee (D6WC) submitted their proposal that the historical name of the current Keizersgracht be restored, in memory of District Six, to Hanover Street (“Big yes to name change”, CapeTowner, August 22)

A public participation process was held from Monday July 1 to Friday July 26, where people across the city could comment on the matter.

More than 1 195 people had their say, where 1 157 people supported the renaming to Hanover Street and 38 people raised objections.

People who supported the renaming said that it would serve as a gesture of restorative justice and of honouring the legacy and culture of those who were painfully displaced from District Six during apartheid.

D6WC chairperson, Shahied Ajam, says this is a major victory for the community of District Six in terms of their dignity being restored.

“It’s a giant step forward in relation to the ongoing restitution process,” he said.

Mr Ajam said he would like to thank the City of Cape Town, the provincial government, national government and all political parties who voted with their conscience and also thanked Mr Plato for endorsing and supporting the name changing process.

Former District Six resident, Shahieda Sonday, 64, from Hanover Park, has fond memories of Hanover Street.

She was a teenager in Grade 10 (Standard 8) when her family was forced out of the area under apartheid’s Group Areas Act, which declared the area for white people only.

Ms Sonday says it was a big meeting place on New Year’s Day, when the community would celebrate together. Ms Sonday says there were grocery , fruit and vegetable shops and a music record shop in Hanover Street for the community’s convenience.

“A week before school started, the community would go to the Waynicks clothing store to buy school uniforms and it got really congested,” she recalls.

Ms Sonday is over the moon with the renaming process. “It’s a major victory, Hanover Street was the heart of District Six.”

The District Six Advocacy Committee chairperson, Tania Kleinhans-Cedras, says Hanover Street will be remembered by many former residents.

“Even though the redevelopment landscape has changed, it’s vital that we restore recollective memories and not entrench colonial names and symbols,” she says.

Ms Kleinhans-Cedras hopes this process will be acknowledged as a collective and not “owned” by any entity.

Though District Six Museum director, Bonita Bennet supports the broad principle of Hanover Street finding a significant place within the rebuilt District Six, she feels that this is not the correct action at this time.

Ms Bennet says Keizersgracht is not actually Hanover Street, but it does follow the Hanover Street contour after the street grid was destroyed.

“At best Keizersgracht could be renamed ‘New Hanover Street’ so that a false history of the geographic site is not perpetuated, as there is
an actual remnant of the original
Hanover Street which still exists,” she says.

Ms Bennet says this renaming process should be integrated into the broader process of redevelopment and naming streets as houses are built on them.

The mayor’s office confirms that the renaming ceremony from Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street will take place on Heritage Day, Tuesday September 24.