Fifty-one years since the declaration of District Six a White Group Area

Proclamation a shock’ read the headlines of The Cape Argus City Late edition on Friday, February 11 in 1966.

The article, written by a staff reporter for the newspaper, anticipated a number of issues that the city is still dealing with as part of apartheid’s legacy. It foresees, amongst other things:

  •  ‘A huge increase in the city’s already overloaded housing burden;
  •  … the creation of transport problems for a much larger commuter population.’It also refers to the government having ‘created new prospects for White expansion on the fringe of the city’s central business district’ – all issues which we are still facing even today.
  • It also refers to the government having ‘created new prospects for White expansion on the fringe of the city’s central business district’ – all issues which we are still facing even today.

The annual walk of remembrance has become an important activity on the calendar of former District Sixers, and others who are committed to actively remembering the past in ways which inspire us to think of a new way of being citizens.

The commemoration has all the hallmarks of the District Six Museum’s methodology: it is participatory, performative, it references the past and energises thinking about the future. Very importantly, it is a constant reminder that restitution should run much deeper than being a housing project. In addition to the important return to the land, it involves the return of dignity, the affirmation of rights, the assertion of cultural identity as well as respect for valuable local knowledge. It is a reminder that the past really does matter.

The community has been advocating for the declaration of District Six as a National Heritage Site. Join the call to fast-track the statutory process of declaration by pledging your support on this day. Join the call, too, to remember apartheid displacements from other areas around our country.


The centre pic is from the front page of the Cape Argus, 8 February 2017.

“My Grandmother, Mabel Isobel Hutton (AKA Ma, Aunty Bell or Mrs Hutton) Unless we acknowledge our past,…” CECILÉ-ANN PEARCE…/exiled-flight…Exiled – The Flight Out of District Six

The walk of remembrance starts at the District Six Museum, 25 Buitenkant Street, at 11h00 on Saturday 11 February. The walk will proceed with replicated District Six street signs, to Keisersgracht to line the street in a few moments of silence, interspersed with a few surprise performances along the way. Youth involved in our Art in Public Places – an archival photography project – will display their work to mark the site of remembrance. The programme will end at 13h30 at the Homecoming Centre, 15 Buitenkant Street with some light refreshments.



Join us for HIGH TEA

Saturday, 26th November at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre located at 15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town – for directions follow the following link:


RSVP: (for catering purposes)

A PRESS LAUNCH was held on Thursday, 17 NOVEMBER 2016

As we commemorate the 50th year since the declaration of District Six as a White Group Area in 1966, we also celebrate the launch of the District Six Museum’s Huis Kombuis Food and Memory Cookbook, a fitting tribute to the rich legacy of District Six. The launch marks an important moment for the Museum and those District Sixers who have contributed to making this recipe book over ten years. Replete with storytelling, craft and recipes, the book places a spotlight on the stories of ex-residents from the District and how food was often the connecting element between families and communities forcibly removed from District Six.

“The title, Huis Kombuis (directly translated from Afrikaans, means ’home kitchen’), was inspired by descriptions of kitchens in participants’ homes as being the heart of the home, its central social space. Here traditional recipes were brought to life in the rituals of cooking, eating and the sensory exchange at the kitchen table. Culinary rituals and home craft practices maintained and reinforced deep significances and connections with District Six as a place of home, family and community.”

Tina Smith, Curator, District Six Museum

The project participants – women and men from District Six – presented tasters of the recipes featured in the book.

Please contact Tina Smith for more information on the project: or 021 466 7200.

The book sells for R385 and is available at main bookstores and also at the Museum’s book shop.

To order books during the launch week at the special price of R285:


Welcome: Chrischené Julius  (Acting Director)

Guest Speaker: Nombulelo Mkefa, ex-Trustee of the District Six Museum

Project Introduction: Tina Smith (District Six Museum Curator )

Q & A: Panel discussion with participants

Signing of books




Huis Kombuis Food and Memory Cookbook

Publisher: District Six Museum and Quivertree Publishers

This is not a conventional cookbook. Rather, it is a story about food that is deeply rooted in the cultural practice and heritage that exists in the fragile memories of those who were forcibly displaced.

The recipes and biographies in the book comprise facets of a collective memory of District Six that unlock complex narratives about family histories and cultural life in the District. For many, the story of food is inseparable from the spirit of place and a sense of belonging.

Stories shared during the group and individual oral history research processes were arranged into themes, threading together stories relating to duties in the kitchen, rituals of daily life, a weekly menu, urban food foraging, shopping, Sunday family meals and festive dishes during Christmas, Labarang, Easter and New Year celebrations. These themes inspired the various chapters outlined in the book. There were many stories highlighting the importance of trust, respect and tolerance. Kanala, a word embodying a spirit of sharing and helping one another, gave expression to the spirit that characterised a close-knit community, its survival, resilience and humour. Storytellers remembered how their mothers and grandmothers cobbled together a living through home industries or working ‘in service’. Cooking, baking, sewing and mending skills were honed during these everyday domestic practices, and became a valuable resource as they re-imagined the ‘ordinary’ in District Six.

These valued memories and traditions served as inspiration for drawing, painting, creative writing and remembrances of traditional dishes such as bobotie, tripe and trotters, crayfish curry, smoorsnoek and cabbage bredie, oumens onder die kombers, doek poeding, pickled fish and many more. The hand-crafted recipe cloths featured in the book are creative expressions of an oral tradition that has been passed on and therefore may not always reflect accurate measurements or methods, which makes them unique pieces of memory work.

Stitching these fragile pieces of the past together has opened up fresh possibilities for making new layers of memories. These recipes carry collective memories. In the physical absence of District Six, through memories of time, space and movement, this reawakening of the participants’ sensory experiences has given weight to an emptiness that was once unfathomable. We are shown the richness of this abundant knowledge by a textural emporium of maps, stories, archival material, family photographs, anecdotes, recipes and hand-stitchery.

The emphasis of the cookbook is not on what was lost but rather on affirming rich, diverse cultural values that have kept the memory of District Six relevant. Through remembering and reviving these traditional cuisines we celebrate the lessons of solidarity and share a part of humanity that gave District Six its unique spirit of place.


District Six 50th Commemoration Print Exchange – Exhibition now on at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre


A collaboration of 50 artists commemorating 50 Years since District Six was declared a White Group Area in 1966. 60 000 people were forcibly removed.

Curated by Penny George from the Cape Peninsula University’s Service Design Department in collaboration with the District Six Museum and Hardground Printing Studio. Featuring new work by artists – Lionel Davis, Garth Erasmus, Jonathan Comerford, Kim Berman, Julie Brewis, Sipho Mdanda, Ayesha Price, Lesego Motsiri, Manfred Zylla, Donovan Ward, Tina Smith, Sophie Peters, Micah Chisholm, amongst others

Exhibition Open to the public: Wednesday, 9 November – Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Viewing: Monday – Saturday 09:00 – 16:00

Venue: District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, 15a Buitenkant Street


Please join a guided tour of the exhibition on Saturday 3 December 2016 at 12:00

Enquiries: Zahra Hendricks

Tel: 021 466 7200





To commemorate 50 years of forced removals from District Six, we present a series of difficult dialogues with key partner organisations. We aim to illuminate important issues from our recent past in relation to contemporary manifestations of displacement, racism, violence and possibilities for a just society.

#Reclaim #Return
Memory against forgetting

Tuesday, 24th May 2016
6pm – 8pm
Snacks and tea / coffee available from 5h30 – 6pm

District Six Museum Homecoming Centre
15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town


• Are you involved in campaigns, educational projects or academic studies concerned with the ongoing marginalisation of people from the places declared white under the Group Areas Act during Apartheid?

• Do you desire to live in an inclusive, kinder and more caring society – one that places all people before greed and profit?


On 11th February, D6 was declared a White Group Area under an Apartheid Government that came to power in 1948. An estimated 60 000 people were racialised and cleared out of the city to areas like Bonteheuwel, Langa, Heideveld, Guguletu, Manenberg, Nyanga, Athlone, Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, amongst other townships on the Cape Flats. This followed the forced removals of people from many places in South Africa – Sophiatown is famously remembered amongst these.

Today we have seen two phases of RETURN where claimants have successfully been rehoused in the shadow of Table Mountain in the areas demarcated for restitution. Many challenges remain and many people have been excluded for various reasons. Many have passed on before being able to return to the place they remembered fondly with stories that never stopped circulating in the communities they were removed to. The third phase of return is now underway, sadly in the shadow of a threat by the City to evict residents of the De Waal Road Flats that serves as a buffer between D6 and the Highway on the upper fringe of the area.

This year District Six Museum and its partners will be campaigning for District Six to be declared a National Heritage Site to serve as a reminder of Apartheid forced removals in the City. This will go a long way to helping young people born on the Cape Flats to make sense of their present in relation to where, perhaps, their families came from.


Blikkiesdorp is a relocation camp in Delft, abutting Cape Town International Airport. It consists of rows of corrugated iron shacks subsidised built by the City of Cape Town. Building on the camp was started in 2007, in response to a court order. In the ensuing years, Blikkiesdorp became a place where people who were priced out and evicted from their homes in areas such as Woodstock or Salt River, or those made homeless by disasters such as shack fires and flooding, were moved to under the pretense that it was emergency and temporary alternative accommodation. Many people moved to Blikkiesdorp under the assumptions that they would only be there for a number of months. Some have now lived there for up to 9 years.

Blikkiesdorp is defined by high levels of petty crime, murder, health problems, substance abuse, unemployment and gangsterism. The settlement is poorly serviced by police and ambulances, and is far from transport nodes, schools, health care facilities and job opportunities. The isolation is one of the main contributing factors to the social ills experienced by families living in Blikkiesdorp. Residents complain that the infrastructure was not designed to accommodate people on a permanent basis – a notion supported by the City’s own conception of the camp as a ‘Temporary Relocation Area’.

Plans are currently underway to extend the airport runway – a project which will need the removal of Blikkiesdorp. Since 2010, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) has been in negotiation with the City of Cape Town. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) exists between the two that the residents of Blikkiesdorp and other settlements nearby would be relocated. Yet, the Blikkiesdorp Joint Committee complain that they are not privy to this MOU and do not know the details of the relocation plan. They demand that Mayor Patricia de Lille acknowledges the crisis at the City built camp and gives them clear answers about the settlement’s future.


Woodstock is  traditionally a working class suburb and former industrial area east of the Cape Town city centre. Like District Six, the area was a cosmopolitan mix of people and religions – which stood in defiance of the apartheid project to segregate South Africa’s cities according to the ‘Group Areas’. Unlike what happened in District Six, since it was declared a ‘white’ area in the 1966, Woodstock did not experience the same number of state sponsored evictions and forced removals of ‘native’ and ‘coloured’ people to townships on the Cape Flats during apartheid.

Because of its prime location close to the heart of the City, the area has slowly gentrified since around the early-mid 1990s. This trend, and the accompanying increases in property prices and rentals, accelerated rapidly in the run up to the 2010 World Cup. Businesses  ventures such as the Biscuit Mill created a new retail sector targeted at the super-wealthy and developers speculated on- and bought up residential property as investments. The areas original poor inhabitants complain that the economic regeneration of the area has actively excluded them, and has not been accompanied by the creation of enough new job-opportunities. Rentals have increased dramatically, and poor families (private tenants) are routinely intimidated and evicted from homes in which they have lived for decades. They often end up on the streets, in townships on the Cape Flats or in relocation camps such as Blikkiesdorp.

Meanwhile, the state has not built any affordable and subsidised rental housing for working class residents and workers in Woodstock since the end of apartheid.


20 years after Apartheid, Cape Town is still deeply divided by race and class – and the few poor families who live in nice parts of the city are increasingly being pushed out to the fringes. Why is the City moving people to distant areas? Can the City afford to provide services to those it is moving away? How can people who want to move back into the city come back when it’s far too expensive? Let’s have a discussion about the problem with moving people to the edges of Cape Town, renting in the city, rent control, and what  a fair rent is.


Tenants living in Sea Point have for years been impacted by unfair rent increases, poor maintenance of buildings, unfair rules from landlords, among others. Through many years most tenants in Sea Point were not aware of what the law says in terms of rental issues and were not exposed to a channel that they can use to address their issues.

As a result, tenants through Reclaim The City (RTC) came together and decided to conduct a social audit to address the rental issues they are faced within their daily lives.

The Sea Point social audit aims at equipping the Sea Point tenants with the following:

  • The law: Rental Housing Act & Tenants’ Rights education.
  • Institutions Obligations: Rental housing tribunal functions etc.
  • Roles of the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Government on rental issues.

The social audit will be conducted by the Reclaim The City (RTC) Sea Point core group, consisting of Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) staff members and other RTC volunteers.

During the social audit, tenants will be interviewed, data will be collected and analysed, findings will be formulated and a Public Hearing will held for reporting back to the community and getting responses from the Government, landlords and other stakeholders who have an obligation on rental issues.

‘From where I am sitting’: Supper Club with Trevor Jones

The 2016 series of District Six Museum ‘Tafel Conversations’ is called ‘From where I am sitting.’

Thursday 31 March 2016: ‘From where I am sitting’: supper and conversation with Trevor Jones

As a young boy in District Six, Trevor Jones spent many hours in the local bioscopes and was even known to bunk school in order to feed this passion.
As a famous Hollywood film score composer, he remembers these early days when he believes his love of film and music was born. As a young man he won a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Music in London where he studied composition, orchestration, conducting, piano and organ. His list of films scores is impressive. They include Notting Hill, Mississippi Burning, Arachnophobia, The Last of the Mohicans, Richard III and GI Jane, amongst others.
We are privileged to have Trevor Jones as our first Supper Club guest for 2016 who will share his story at the District Six Museum’s Homecoming Centre on Thursday 31 March at 18h00.
Tickets for the event which includes a three-course meal, is R 150. Bookings can be made via Webtickets ( or by calling Zahra Hendricks on 021 4667200 or emailing her on

SUPPORT OUR CAMPAIGN: Declare District Six a National Heritage Site

#D6HeritageSite  #D6NationalHeritageSite

Why a National Heritage Site?

After the dramatic announcement on 11 February 1966 of the declaration of District Six as a white group area, a number of protest organisations and committees grew, which included the District Six Defence Committee, the District Six Association, the Friends of District Six, the Rent, Rates and Residents’ Association, and the Hands Off District Six Campaign Committee being amongst some of the better-known ones. In addition, the institutions in the area engaged in protest actions involving their different constituencies. This included schools such as Trafalgar and Harold Cressey; churches such as the Catholic, Methodist and Anglican Churches.

We have come a long way since the Hands Off District Six Campaign of the late 1980s, the eager anticipation of the first photographic exhibitions, the heady days of elections and national renewal in the 1990s.

Much has been achieved, against considerable odds.  Land restitution is a reality, even if it remains fraught with political challenges and challenges of delivery.  District Six is claiming its place in the pantheon of formative narratives of the nation.

The District Six Museum bears the scars and traces of this process of nation-building at a very local, but profoundly global scale.  It has emerged from a humble, community oriented space into international prominence, celebrated in many journals, books, and reviews.  It remains the most successful example of a community based project of its kind, an object lesson for local and international projects seeking to engage people in the remaking of their past and its mobilisation for democratic ends.

Yet, the greatest achievements of the museum lie squarely in its future.  The power of the site of District Six remains its greatest asset.  It continues to speak to many thousands in the city, and the rest of the country of the demand that we build cities ‘not of races, but of people’ and that this simple demand becomes a component for every vision in every community in the nation.

Indeed, District Six takes its place alongside Sophiatown, Cato Manor, and other iconic removals as the pre-eminent narrative of forced removals in South Africa.  The tale of its destruction captures the destructive impact of an idea called apartheid, and its attempt to destroy a competing idea, namely that South Africans could be citizens of a unified country based on universal principles.  Its induction into the national estate presents a perpetual opportunity to remind South Africans that we are to transcend this traumatic past and build on its ruins, the basis for a new citizenship in which we all share and celebrate.

The struggle for District Six should not, however, be seen as one which was waged independently of other struggles. It was one which found support in other community structures, particularly in the period of mass actions in the 1970s and 1980s. The success of the land restitution process in District Six benefited from similar struggles waged simultaneously elsewhere. So, just as District Six was a formative example to other communities and gave rise to strong political leadership, so too did it benefit from the supportive actions waged on other sites of struggle.

The implementation of the policy of forced removals has played an important part in the history of Cape Town, and District Six is but one of these areas so affected. The prominence of the District Six story provides a platform from which to investigate the impact of forced removals nationally, and to explore its ongoing impact on contemporary communities.

Like Ahmed Kathrada says of Robben Island, ‘While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument to our hardship and suffering. We would want Robben Island to be a monument … reflecting the triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil. A triumph of non-racialism over bigotry and intolerance. A triumph of a new South Africa over the old.’[1] In the same way, we believe that the District Six site can be an invaluable nation-building space.

[1] Kathrada, Ahmed


Panel Discussion: The Politics, culture and pedagogy of representation

USAKOS – Photographs Beyond Ruins: The old location albums, 1920’s-1960

The panel discussion will interrogate some of the often contentious issues confronting photographers and researchers who work with communities facing despair of one kind or another. It is often in the process of curating the lives of others that a line is drawn between rendering the subjects in a way that is demeaning or dignified with a lot of grey in between.

Panelists will include Giorgio Miescher (University of Basel); Jeremy Silvester (Museums Association of Namibia); Tina Smith (District Six Museum); Martha Akawa (University of Namibia)

Saturday, 20th February 2016 \ 10am – 12pm \ D6M Homecoming Centre, Gallery, 15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town \ Contact Zahra: 021 4667200 \