REMEMBERING 11 FEBRUARY 1966

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

‘DISTRICT SIX: BIG SHAKE-UP IN PLANS FOR CITY.
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.

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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

http://onthecouchwithca.blogspot.co.za/…/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.

IBRAHIM KHALIL SHIHAB QUARTET IN CONCERT

Legendary Cape Town composer and jazz pianist, formerly known as Chris Schilder, will perform at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre featuring BUDDY WELLS on soprano and tenor sax; LIONEL BEUKES on bass; and LIAM WEBB on Drums.

FRIDAY, 27th MAY 2016 @ 8pm

D6M Homecoming Centre, 15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town

Cost: R120 (all early bird tickets are bought)

For more information and reservations contact Mirza Parker: +27764157244

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

50yrsDeconstructed2

Albie Sachs speaks at the Lydia William’s Centre for Memory

11 February 1966: District Six was declared a white area…

Join the District Six Museum, the community it works with and friends for words of reflection by our guest speaker, ALBIE SACHS, former Constitutional Court Judge. This will form part of the Interfaith Service that will conclude a day of remembrance and place making. For more information: http://tinyurl.com/qbzs2ej

The Lydia Williams Centre for Memory (Old St Phillip’s School)

Chapel Street, District Six

11 February 2015

7pm

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: District Six Museum Remembers

Day of remembrance programme to be held on Wednesday the 11th of February

11 February 1966 is a day that will always be remembered by the District Six community – a date that marked the start of the end. This was the day that District Six was declared a whites-only area. Subsequently, more than 60 000 people were forcibly removed and the buildings were flattened.

District Six Museum – a memorial to a destroyed community and a meeting place for old and new Cape Town residents who identify with its history – will be hosting its annual day of remembrance programme on Wednesday. On this day every year, the Museum commemorates the destruction and recommits to the process of restitution together with the community.

The 11th of February marks a significant day for the Museum and its community. The annual programme is our way of bringing people together to re-connect and honour the past”, says Bonita Bennett, Director of the District Six Museum.

From 1994, a commemorative procession starting at St Mark’s Church has marked this day, and various individual and collective pilgrimages have followed on each year. In 2004, the first families received the keys to their new homes on this date, and in 2005 the names of the next returning families were announced.

Traditionally there has been a major focus on the cairn of stones – whereby ex-residents lay their stones at the cairn on Hanover Street. The cairn is made up of their stones laid there over the years, symbolising ex-residents’ connectedness to the land and staking their claim to its history.

This year, the proceedings cannot continue in the same manner due to the CPUT construction which currently surrounds it. CPUT has been approached to permit access to the cairn which lies cordoned off in the heart of the building site. Stones will be laid, but the performative ritual around the cairn will not be possible because of the intrusion of the building. This will be the first time that the stone laying will take place under these circumstances and it should provide some clues as to the future of the cairn. The day will be concluded with an interfaith service at the Lydia Williams Centre of Memory. Albie Sachs, former Constitutional Court Judge and anti-apartheid activist, will be the guest speaker for the evening.

The programme for the day will include:

  • 11h00: Gather at the D6M Homecoming Centre. People are requested to bring stones to lay at the cairn
  • 11h30: Procession to the cairn and ritual of remembrance
  • 13h00: Reflections and refreshments at D6M Homecoming Centre
  • 19h00: Interfaith service at The Lydia Williams Centre of Memory (the old St Phillip’s School), Chapel Street in District Six.  Guest speaker Judge Albie Sachs.

The programme is free and all are welcome to attend (please confirm).