Some of Cape Town’s history, particularly forced removals of black people from some parts of the city, could be lost forever or distorted if it is not documented now while some of the victims are still alive, the District Six Museum has cautioned.
The museum is working with local libraries to share and document forced removal narratives.
On Saturday December 2, the museum held Tell your story to a ‘Born free’, an exhibition of Suitcase stories at Crossroads library, where young people learnt about the forced removal of black people, under apartheid’s Group Areas Act of 1950, from areas such as District Six, Simon’s Town, Claremont, Wynberg, Ndabeni and Pinelands, among others.
They were moved to areas such as Langa, Gugulethu, Crossroads, Manenberg – and other areas on the Cape Flats.
A group of young historians have been trained by the museum to facilitate exhibitions in various communities around the city.
Mandy Sanger, manager of education at the museum, said the idea was to create a dialogue between young and old as there was perception among many young people that history was in the past and therefore irrelevant. “We want young people to appreciate the history of their communities.
“They must understand that they did not just land there (where they live). They are there as a result of pass laws. All those people came from different areas and were dumped into these areas,” she said. “We want to help people to reconnect with how they landed here.”
Ms Sanger said current history made no mention of “tragic stories” of how the removals affected people emotionally.
“So we are trying to find people who lived before the Group Areas Act. There are many of those people in this area and they are going to die soon. People will not know that people once lived together and spoke each other’s languages, “ she said.
“We are also creating an awareness of how Cape Town became what it is.”
Ms Sanger said the information gathered by the historians would then be documented.
Farahnaz Gilfelleon, whose family was moved to Hanover Park, said it was important for young people to understand what the Group Areas Act did to black people as it destroyed unity and cohesion that existed and placed people into boxes.
Young historian and co-organiser of the event, Ntsika Kuhle, said the project also focused on those who were removed from Crossroads to Khayelitsha.
To share your or your family’s stories about forced removals, contact the museum on 021 466 7200.