District 6

“In Cape Town there was a vibrant cosmopolitan part of the city called District Six nestling at the foot of Table Mountain. It was a lively, multiracial community with a diversity of Christians, Muslims, Jews and they had lived like that cheek by jowl with one another amicably with hardly any racist incident. The Nationalists came along and through the quaintly named Department of Community Development decreed in the name of racial harmony that District Six should die. And so the Coloreds and Africans were moved miles away from the city center where they worked, from spacious homes to matchbox-type houses clustered together enough to cause claustrophobia in what would become another monument to apartheid’s madness, yet another ghetto township” (Tutu 100).

The Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town (District Six) was established in 1867 and was a community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers, and immigrants. The district was located at the foot of Table Mountain and was close to the city and port of Cape Town.

In 1901, black South Africans had been forced to move out of the district and placed elsewhere. Throughout the years as people began to prosper and move out of the district, it became a forgotten place of Cape Town.

In 1966, the Group Areas Act of 1950 had declared District Six a “white only” area. The community of over 60,000 people were forcibly removed from their homes and moved to the Cape Flats, which is a desolate area outside of the town. In 1982, after the entire community had been uprooted from their lives and their homes, District Six was then flattened by bulldozers.

“Soon after becoming Archbishop, I visited Bonteheuwel, one of apartheid’s spawns. Inside one of these minute dwellings in the township was one of our parishioners, an old man who had been moved from District Six in 1960. It was now 1986. He had not unpacked the cartons and boxes into which he had stuffed his possessions. The boxes littered the very modest accommodation. When I asked why the boxes were there, unopened, he replied that he was waiting to return home to District Six. The three and a half million consisted of people such as these. He later died of a broken heart, his boxes still unopened” (Tutu 101).


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