district 6


South Africa is often associated with the struggle for human rights. The rise and fall of the apartheid regime is well documented in Cape Town museums. The most sobering and informative source, for us, was the District Six Museum.

District Six was a residential area within Cape Town which, during the 1970's, was subjected to the forced removal of more than 60 000 of the residents (after it was declared a "whites-only" area), and the bulldozing of their houses, due to the apartheid laws.

The museum itself honours the lives of the former residents. Traditional recipes that were cooked by former residents are framed along the back corridor of the museum. The upstairs features displays describing jazz bands, dentists, and other former residents. The barbershop featured the original hair styling tools used in District Six prior to the relocations:

In addition to the documentation of the cultural history of District Six in the 60's, the museum also describes the events leading up the forced removal, and the aftermath. It's shocking to think how recently all of this occurred (apartheid only ended in 1994).

All of the civil rights museums in Cape Town seem to have a similar theme: hope. They don't attempt to soften the facts or dwell on the heinousness of the events, but rather they see the museums as a way of moving forward, together, as a united nation.

Since the fall of apartheid some former residents have been relocated back into the neighbourhood but ongoing efforts to redevelop the community have been moving slowly. Large areas still remain undeveloped:

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  1. Anonymous24.4.10

    Neat pictures! It's fascinating how South Africa used its Truth Commission as a way of healing and moving forward. One of my classes had a lecture come in and talk about the power of memory in reconciliation processes. Other countries have tried to use this as a model when recovering from conflict, I think.

  2. Very brave to be so open but somethings are so bad that you can't even try to soften them. It's funny how n the UK, the plight of South Africa is really only now becoming wider known because of the impending football world cup - a blessing and a curse!

    Enjoy your travels!

  3. with so much you two are learning and digesting everyday, i wonder if it is ever overwhelming? good thing for this blog too, you can always come back and revisit your thoughts on it.

  4. This is so crazy. I can't even imagine. Great pictures!!

  5. i love all the typography! thanks for sharing.

  6. you two must be growing so much, absorbing the world. thank you for letting me live vicariously through you.

  7. I regret not going to this museum when I was in Cape Town. Thanks for taking me there. :)

  8. If the Lethal Weapon movies have taught me anything, it's that (white) South Africans are totally evil, but they have diplomatic immunity, so you can't fuck with them, unless you are Mel Gibson and a (understandably) pissed-off Danny Glover (who is too old for this shit) and then you find a way around it.

    Seriously, though, apartheid= fucked up.