Efforts to rename Zonnebloem suburb in Cape Town to its original name of “District Six” – changed during apartheid – have gained momentum with the Democratic Alliance (DA) party, which runs the city, saying at the weekend that it supports the move.
In a statement, Reagen Allen, DA member of the provincial parliament and chairperson of the standing committee on cultural affairs and sport, said her party “supports the call to restore the name of Cape Town suburb, Zonnebloem, to its original name of District Six”.
Allen added: “The restoration of the District Six name plays a crucial role in commemorating and reinstating cultural identities native to suburbs in the Cape Town City Bowl, and reconstituting the pre-apartheid racial and cultural diversity of the region.
“District Six remains an integral part of our country’s history, and restoring its original name will pay tribute to the heritage of this community and be a step forward in redressing our difficult past.”
After District Six was declared a “whites only” area under the 1950 Group Areas Act of the apartheid government and many of its residents were forcefully removed from an area in which they and their families had been living for generations, to the outskirts of Cape Town.
The effects of forced removals and apartheid-style social division persist in Cape Town today and continue to cut off many residents from access to transportation, job opportunities, better living conditions and, in many cases, land which was their birthright.
“The renaming of Zonnebloem to District Six transcends restitution efforts in that it speaks to a broader desire for people to reclaim their identities, heritage, and rebuild shared spaces that were once reduced to ruins,” said Allen.
“The DA-led Western Cape government remains committed to advocating for restitution, redress, and social cohesion in communities across our province.”
Former residents and the local District Six museum are at the forefront of campaigning to reinstate the original name five decades after it was removed.
Last week on Thursday history. District Six Museum director Bonita Bennett said the campaign was part of wider restitution efforts.
– African News Agency