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.

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

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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 \ education@districtsix.co.za

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

This exhibition is a mobile version of the one housed at the Usakos Municipal Building, Namibia. It will open on Tuesday, 16 February at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, followed by a walk-about and panel discussion on Saturday, 20thFebruary (The politics, culture and pedagogy of representation) and it will be closed with the launch of a photo and video blog on Saturday, 12th March titled: Tell your story to a ‘born free’!

This mobile exhibition revolves around private photographic collections owned by four female residents of the small town in central Namibia called Usakos: Cecilie //Geises, Wilhelmine Katjimune, Gisela Pieters and Olga //Garoës. The photographic collections lay out the physical and social landscapes of the old location. They range from studio photography; images of particular location sites and buildings; photographs of mission congregations and school classes; music bands and football teams; and many portraits of men and women posing in front of the camera. Most images were taken by local or itinerant African photographers, and they evidence a vibrant aesthetic and visual culture in a cosmopolitan environment that made a stand against the containments and constrictions imposed by the politics of race.

The exhibition will be open to the public from 17th February to 16th March 2016

EXHIBITION OPENING

OPENING TALK: OMAR BADSHA

Tuesday, 16th February 2016
6 for 6.30pm
D6M Homecoming Centre, Gallery
15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town

GPS: -33° 55′ 36.940707″, 18° 25′ 28.475475″

Buitenkant street panorama_HRes_Text

Contact Zahra: 021 4667200 / reception@districtsix.co.za

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GiselaPieters,OlgaGaroes1 WilhelmineKatjimune

Usakos, a railway town

Usakos developed as one of the main hubs of first the German colonial and later the South African railway system. Its urban morphology was marked, from its early beginnings, by the policies of segregation and apartheid urban planning. The exhibition highlights a particularly traumatic moment in the town´s history, when in the early 1960s the apartheid administration began to remove African residents out of what was then called the old location into newly built townships that were geographically removed from those parts of the town subsequently reserved for ‘whites’.

The collectors and the collections

The four women and their photographic archives are part of a trans-generational network and practice of collecting and curating. Since their lives and those of their fellow residents have been deeply marked by the experience of forced removal, and concurrently by economic decay and socio-cultural disruption, their collections have become part of diverse discourses and practices of commemoration and memorialisation.

The women´s care for the photographs – the ways in which they have for several decades placed them in albums, displayed them in living rooms, shared them in conversations with family, friends and acquaintances, and stored them in handbags and boxes – is an expression of how these women´s small but continuous daily aesthetic acts powerfully countered the ruination of their living environments. This is why the collections transcend the concern to recover the past alone and also describe an ongoing reflection of the present inviting an opening into the future. The Usakos photographic collections then constitute forms and practices of collective mobilisation – of memory and experience, of vision and imaginary.

Paul Grendon

The resonances of the old location photographic collections in the past, present and future are taken up in the exhibition through the work of photographer Paul Grendon. His camera follows the traces and layers of the Usakos experience of colonialism and apartheid that remain visible in the physical and social landscape of the town: it exposes ruins of the old location houses, maps out a decaying railway infrastructure, but also explores the many ways in which residents of Usakos have and continue to relate to their environment, turning spaces of ruination into places of belonging.

The exhibition catalogue and content

The exhibition catalogue includes essays on photography and the urban history of Usakos; three image sections including a black and white one introducing the women collectors and their collections of historical photographs; and one section with colour photographs by Paul Grendon.

The exhibition consists of mobile panels on which are printed black and white photographs selected from the women’s collections and colour photographs by Paul Grendon. Additionally there are information panels and two large maps. The mobile exhibition is a newly produced version of the one produced for Namibia and another one for international travel.

Important to the process was the substantial involvement of students in the Usakos and Basel exhibitions. Students from the collaborating Universities of Basel and Namibia, participated in the mounting of the exhibition in Usakos and again in Basel. They also worked on joint oral history projects.

Usakos

The first exhibition opening was in the Usakos Municipality Building on 27 June 2015.  The opening event was planned by the Usakos Municipality in collaboration with the Museums Association of Namibia. The exhibition will permanently remain in Usakos and be integrated into the future local museum.

Europe & USA

A second exhibition was produced for Europe and America, and was opened in Paris at Sorbonne University on 7 July 2015.  The exhibition was then scheduled as part of the European Conference of African Studies in Paris on 8-10 July. Following Paris, it was presented at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien in Basel on 28 August 2015, and then at the University of Bielefeld on 7 November 2015. The following venues have been confirmed: the Regis West Gallery, Minneapolis on 5 April 2016 and then the Brunei Gallery, London on July 2017.

Southern Africa

The mobile version that will be at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre, Cape Town in February 2016, is scheduled to go to the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, the University of Fort Hare in East London, and then the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg. Eventually the exhibition will be handed over to the Museums Association of Namibia for further educational use in the country.

The exhibition is curated by Paul Grendon, Giorgio Miescher, Lorena Rizzo, and Tina Smith

PROJECT PARTNERS & FUNDERS

Carl Schlettwein Stiftung Basel

Centre for African Studies, University of Basel

District Six Museum

Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft BS

Max Geldner Stiftung Basel

Municipality of Usakos

Museums Association of Namibia

Pro Helvetia Johannesburg

Stiftung Mercator Schweiz

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation

University of Namibia

Women’s films on Saturday to commemorate National Woman’s Day

To end off the Africa World Documentary Film Festival week, District Six Museum and UWC Education Department will host a day of films by women film makers: South Africans – Elise Fernandez, Nadine Cloete, Esley Philander; Haitian-American Rachelle Salnave; and self-described ‘multi-ethnic’ Jade Gibson. In addition, we will feature the Dan Yon biopic on songstress Sathima Bea Benjamin

SATURDAY 8 AUGUST 2015

12h00 – 17h30

DISTRICT SIX MUSEUM HOMECOMING CENTRE

15 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town

Background information: http://www.africaworldfilmfestival.com/

12h00 – 13h05 La Belle Vie: The Good Life (62 mins) Haiti, USARachelle Salnave  A story about a Haitian-American filmmaker, Rachelle Salnave’s journey to discover her Haitian roots by examining the complexities of the Haitian society as it pertains to the overall political and economic dichotomy in Haiti. Using her own personal family stories interconnected with capturing the voices of Haitians and experts overall, this film chronologically uncovers the rationale behind its social class system but also how it has affected the Haitian-American migration experience as well. With the proliferation of political turmoil, poverty, and now an earthquake shattered nation, the documentary beckons all to lay down their arms, be it the tangible weapons of death and pain or the psychological and spiritual tools of division and prejudice, and work as one to rebuild and prosper in the name of a new and stronger Haiti.This film in the end invokes the question whether or not its tragic event will shift the consciousness of all Haitians (living in Haiti or abroad) by motivating them to unite to build a new Haiti.
13h30 – 13h45 BREAK
13h45 – 14h15 THE GOLDEN YEARS (1): Maria April (24 mins)Courtesy of SABCDirected by Nadine Cloete

Produced by Elise Fernandez

Maria April – A story of an elderly woman who’s grandmother died years ago. Her bones were dug up by a white school teacher who used it in his biology class. Today the school says they own the bones and that the family cannot prove that the bones belong to them. All that is left of it is the skull and it is kept in a Typex box..Maria Cloete 2
14h30- 15h00 THE GOLDEN YEARS (2): Fatima Dike (24 mins)Courtesy of SABCDirected by Esley Philander and Elise Fernandez

Produced by Elise Fernandez

Fatima Dike – A story about the first black woman to become a published playwright. Sis Fatts (as we know her) deals with the loss of her son, her grandson and her brothers all being murdered at different stages of her life. She is a playwright and activist.33kultur-fatima_dik_713192a
15h00 – 15h30 THE GOLDEN YEARS (2): Katrina Esau (24 mins)Courtesy of SABCDirected by Nadine Cloete

Produced by Elise Fernandez

A story of an 80+ year old woman in the Norther Cape who is fighting to keep a dying language known as Nu! alive.Katina Esau
15h30 – 15h50 BREAK
15h50 – 16h20 WISH YOU WERE HERE (8 mins)Jade Gibson A material object is seen and categorised as a visual referent within the mind, where, linked with its contextual associations and other referents, it becomes part of visual memory, both individual and collective. This short art film explores how ‘objects’ in the past, as in photographs, books, experiences and film media, shape unconscious perceptions of how we encounter ‘objects’ in the present. In the case of the short art film ‘Wish You Were Here’, the object is myself. I present as an ethnographic art ‘object’, in order to examine the mis-identification and projections of others who create me as being of multiple and different ethnic identities and provenances. Although essentially a playful piece, the work also draws on and relates to more disturbing connotations; the phenotyping and determination of racial ‘types’ in the past and present, the deliberate construction in the composition of the ‘ethnographic’ photograph and film, and the impact of racial and ethnic stereotyping in the present, despite the world being increasingly presented as a more and more genetically and electronically interconnected space.Being of mixed ethnicity, apparently Scottish/Irish/Spanish and Filipino, yet growing up in the UK with adoptive parents and thus having no cultural knowledge of Filipino culture, and never having been there, I find myself constantly mis-identified by how I appear to others. This is often initially with absolute certainty by those who see me, as being identified as a number of different, and often quite diverse, ethnicities. Over the years, I was curious what images and associations might exist in the people’s heads who mis-identified me, and how these might interplay with images of ‘ethnic stereotypes’ shaped through images in the past, as well as present.
16h20 – 17h30 SATHIMA’S WINDSONG (54 mins)Dan Yon Sathima’s Windsong is about the life and times of South African jazz singer, Sathima Bea Benjamin, whose musical creations were often in the shadow of her husband, jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim. The film is shot primarily in New York, Cape Town but opens with short of the Island of St Helena, birthplace of Sathima’s grandmother. It returns to the ocean to signal travel, ‘routes’ and jazz as metaphors for her life-history. In her apartment of the Chelsea Hotel Apartment, Sathima’s home for more than thirty years, she patches together her journeys from apartheid South Africa and its ‘patterns of brokenness’ to Europe, and a chance meeting and a recording with Duke Ellington in Paris in 1963, to the highs and lows of making a life for herself and family in New York. The narrative of her journeys is interwoven with her music and the reflections of folks in South Africa and New York who know her work thus making this film both a celebration of Sathima’s music as well as a reflection on the historical context that helped shape it. The film takes it title from Sathima’s haunting composition, Windsong, which, like this film, is itself is a reflection upon displacement, exile, belonging and longing.
CLOSING WORDS

A round-table discussion with Mindy Fullilove: Impressions of the mental health of Cape Town as a ‘recovering’ city.

Join District Six Museum and the African Centre for Cities in a round-table with Dr Fullilove during which time she will share with us some of the practical expressions of her work, as well as her impressions of the mental health of Cape Town as a ‘recovering’ city.

TUESDAY 11 AUGUST 2015,
18h00 – 20h00
District Six Museum Homecoming Centre,
15 Buitenkant Street
021 466 7200 / nicky@districtsix.co.za for more information

Dr Mindy Thompson Fullilove, will be visiting us from Columbia University in New York.
She is a professor of Clinical Psychology and Public Health, and is interested in the links between the environment and mental health. She has researched, written and designed projects which speak to this concern, and is well-known for her critique as well as the development of various initiatives in New York and surrounding neighbourhoods.
In the introduction to her book Root Shock’, she writes:
I present here the words of the people who have lived upheaval: the uprooted, the planners, the advocates, the historians. Read their words with care for them and for yourself. Read their words, not as single individuals living through a bad time, but as a multitude all sharing their morsel of the same bad time. Read in that manner and I believe that you will get the true nature of root shock. Read in that manner, and I believe you will be able to embrace the truth, not as a fearful thing, but as a call to join the struggle for a better tomorrow.

A SHORT BIO:
Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove is a board-certified psychiatrist who is interested in the links between the environment and mental health. She started her research career in 1986 with a focus on the AIDS epidemic, and became aware of the close link between AIDS and place of residence. Under the rubric of the psychology of place, Dr. Fullilove began to examine the mental health effects of such environmental processes as violence, rebuilding, segregation, urban renewal, and mismanaged toxins. She has published numerous articles and six books including “Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-Out Cities,” “Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It,” and “House of Joshua: Meditations on Family and Place.”