11 February, 2020 marks the 54th year since District Six was declared a white area by the apartheid state. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – The official renaming of Zonnebloem to its original name of District Six yesterday saw former and current residents and their supporters celebrate the momentous event with a remembrance walk through the historic area.

The 100 walkers, led by the District Six Homecoming Centre of the District Six Museum, a key driver of the renaming campaign, passed through Buitenkant Street, Caledon Street, St Mark’s Street and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) campus to reach a cairn, where they observed a moment’s silence, listened to speeches and laid symbolic stones and banners and placards.

District Six Museum acting director Chrischene’ Julius said the cairn was situated on a very historic spot in District Six.

“For us the cairn’s stones were always the last part of District Six that we are actually standing in front of now. For many years the site was empty, and the building of the CPUT residence on this spot forced us to think about who owns the land in District Six.

“How is it that certain parts of District Six are sold off and developed?”

Forming part of the remembrance walk was Sylvia Gangat, 76, who now lives in Milnerton, and Marlene Ford 80, of Elfindale. They said they were born and raised in District Six and forcibly removed by apartheid’s Group Areas Act in the 1960s.

The walkers ended their remembrance walk at the Heritage South Africa Resources Agency (HSARA), a stone’s throw from CPUT, where they handed over a memorandum and letter demanding that District Six be declared a national heritage site.

District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam expressed disappointment that his organisation had not been invited to the event.

Julius said no organisation was personally invited, but the event was advertised on social media.

“For us it’s a big letdown not to be acknowledged for our role in the renaming process.

“Today being February 11 and 54 years after the area had officially been declared a white area, we would have expected that we would have had an invitation,” said Ajam.

Cape Times