Remembering District Six – 50

Remembering District Six – 50 years later [pictures]

Today marks 50 years to the day that District Six was declared a “whites only” area. The barren land that now lies outside the city serves as a painful reminder of South Africa’s brutal past while old photos give only a glimpse of what life was like in one of Cape Town’s most famous neighbourhoods.

Remembering District Six – 50

Today marks 50 years to the day that District Six was declared a “whites only” area under the Group Areas act of apartheid South Africa.

The apartheid government declared the area a slum in 1966 and forcefully removed over 60 000 people in the area, relocating them to the Cape Flats. Residents who lived here then will tell you otherwise. It was a vibrant and cosmopolitan area with one of the most famous shopping streets in whole of Africa – Hanover Street.

“District Six was all about food, we didn’t have much but food brought us together. If you had many kids you would go to your neighbour and ask for food to give your kids. The Huis Kombuis theme is best suited to celebrate District Six,” says former Resident of District Six, Ruth Jeftha speaking on Forum@8 this week.

Removals started two years after it was declared “whites only”. The area was completely flattened and the ordeal inspired many great poems, including Adam Small’s famous “Die Bulldozers het gekom”.

(adam small’s poem, in John Western’s ‘Outcast Cape Town’)

A photo posted by Nechama Brodie (@brodiegal) on

Today, much of the area remains barren. It has taken 50 years and will probably take 50 more before the land is returned to its original owners. It won’t be the same when those residents return, but it will be something.

These pictures, all taken from the incredible District Six Museum (visit if you haven’t already), are but a glimpse into what District Six used to be.

What remains of District Six.

15_1970s_street-games-in-d6-early-70s-jim-mclagan-for-the-cape-argus-800x600 hanover straat

district six hanover street upload ian-huntley (1)