Projects & Programmes
Photographer: Jan Greshoff
Commemorations at District Six Museum
The work of the District Six Museum involves advocating for the significance of personal and collective memories in the lives of people. The public face of this finds expression through commemorative events and rituals.
Some of these follow the calendar of national commemorations which have been inaugurated during South Africa’s move towards democracy; others are specifically District Six-focused, being dates of events significant to the life of the community.
Each commemoration provides an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of this declaration and also to reaffirm the hope inherent in turning this day of trauma into one of hopefulness and recommitment.
11 February 1966 marks the day that District Six was declared a White Group Area according to the Group Areas Act of 1950. This was an Apartheid Act which planned all areas of residence in South Africa based on racial classification. It is the day that the community regards as having marked the beginning of the end of their lives as they knew it.
On 11 February each year, the Museum spearheads commemorative activities to mark the day. Each commemoration provides an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of this declaration and also to reaffirm the hope inherent in turning this day of trauma into one of hopefulness and recommitment. The rituals of remembrance that take place on this day also serve as reminders of the range of legacies existing within communities who were forced to forge a life together after they were displaced under racially defined laws. It also aims to draw attention to the unfinished business of land restitution, as well as the ongoing current displacement of people even as we inhabit the space of the new South Africa.
The significance of the date was amplified when the late President Nelson Mandela was released on this date in 1990.
While each year’s commemoration is significant, the years below were particularly momentous:
Late President Nelson Mandela was released from prison
‘Return of the Elders’ ceremony, where first two returnees received keys from then President Nelson Mandela
Second group of families receive keys to their new homes in a special ceremony
Commemoration includes a programme to mark 20 years since the late President Nelson Mandela was released from prison, in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and other organisations
Special commemoration to mark 50 years since District Six was declared a white area
Visit https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/district-six-declared-white-area for more information about the declaration of District Six as a white area under Apartheid
Please click on the link below to view various media associated with the Museum’s Commemorations Day programmes over the years