On Monday February 11 members of the public are invited to join the ex-resident community of District Six as they mark 47 years since the declaration of the District as a White Group Area. For many people this date in 1966 signalled the beginning of the destruction of their homes, their communities and in some instances, their lives; on this day in 2013 they will reflect on their difficult but hopeful journey to restitution.
The commemoration – starting at the Museum at 11am – will include readings and reflections, poetry and music as well as symbolic acts to signal both connections to the past and letting go of its injustices. As has become a tradition, ex-residents will bring stones from the areas to which they were displaced and walk with these to the last remnant portion of Hanover Street where a cairn of stones has evolved from this annual commemorative act. This is always an inspiring and moving occasion, when even the most elderly insist on walking the full distance to place their stones at the cairn, signalling their connectedness to the land.
This year the commemoration of the forced removals of people from District Six is taking place in the context of a national focus on remembering a hundred years of the 1913 Native Land Act that, overnight, turned millions of South Africans into “pariahs in the land of their birth”.
* The District Six Musem is situated on 25A Buitenkant Street. Call 021 466 7200 for more information.