Rename Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street

Nadia Branquet and Nicolette Kannemeyer with a Hanover Street road sign.
While the District Six Museum had, in principle, supported the request by the District Six Working Committee to rename Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street, they believe that renaming of streets should be looked at holistically, in line with the redevelopment of the area. 

The public have until tomorrow, Friday July 26, to comment on the request to renaming of Keizersgracht Street to its historical name of Hanover Street. Following a request to rename Keizersgracht in District Six to its historical name of Hanover Street, residents have until tomorrow, Friday July 26 to comment on the matter. 

Mayor Dan Plato invited everyone to share their views and stories in the public participation process. 

“With the legacy of apartheid still present in many aspects of our daily lives, we need to be mindful of the ways in which we can contribute to addressing the wrongs that were committed. 

One such way is to restore historical names of places, streets and facilities that may have been changed during apartheid. While there are many hardships that people will remember, there are some names that bring joy to our communities, and with that the memories that have positive associations.” 

He said the forced removals that took place during apartheid will always bring painful memories to those who lived in District Six. 

“The proposal is that the renaming could assist in igniting good memories for those who suffered from and experienced these removals.” 

District Six Museum director Bonita Bennett said the request for the name change came soon after the campaign, spearheaded by the museum, to reclaim the name of District Six for the area marked as Zonnebloem on official maps.

“There is no question that Hanover Street has always been one of the largest symbols of life in District Six. Life history interviews conducted and archived by the museum are filled with memories of that street, as are interviews about musical and cultural life in the District. The significance of Hanover Street is unquestionable.” 

However, she said, the museum also believes that the names of streets and other landmarks in District Six  are of great relevance to the way that the history of the area is acknowledged and its tragic past is memorialised. 

Renaming forms an important part of restitution. Ms Bennett that while the museum supports the renaming of Keizersgracht street, they also raised concerned about a number of factors, which include, among others: 

● 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 

● This renaming should be integrated into the broader process of redevelopment and naming streets as houses are built on them. She said plans for this already exist, which include a resurrection of the existing remnant of Hanover Street, the development of Hanover Square, and renaming Keizersgracht as New Hanover Street.

● More engagement with CPUT as many old District Six sites are on their grounds.

“It is a great tragedy that the redevelopment has been delayed for so long. It was always intended that processes such as renaming should take place in tandem with the redevelopment, and that a holistic understanding should lead as a key principle,” said Ms Bennett.

The District Six Museum supports the broad principle of Hanover Street finding a significant place within the rebuilt District Six, but our strong reservations have led us to believe that this is not the correct action at this time.” 

The public participation process will close tomorrow, July 26. Residents can submit their comments and share their stories by emailing naming@capetown.gov.za Written submissions can also be dropped off at the City’s sub-council offices.