The District Six Museum is embarking on a campaign to change the name of Zonnebloem back to District Six.
“Replacing the name ‘District Six’ with the name ‘Zonnebloem’ after displacing the people and bulldozing their homes, representing a final step in erasing the memory of the area under Apartheid,” the museum’s official site reads. “The official name on the map remains as Zonnebloem, and as an area name, it remains closely associated with that Apartheid erasure [of District Six and its community]. Claiming the right to return residentially, reclaiming social spaces, street names and ultimately the name of the area, are all components of the process of holistic restitution and restorative justice.”
Although the campaign began many years ago, it was shelved due to a number of factors that had to be considered. “We decided to start the campaign again,” Bonita Bennet, the director of the museum, said to IOL.
“Acting on the expressed desire of the former residents of District Six, particularly those who are members of the Seven Steps Club, the District Six Museum has made an application to the Provincial Government’s Geographic and Place Names Committee to have the historic name reinstated,” the museum’s site reads.
Some of the issues that have led to the campaign being revived include residents’ complaints that when they receive their mail, the area is listed as Woodstock.
According to Bennet, District Six was renamed Zonnebloem during the Apartheid era when it was declared a “whites only” neighbourhood and its then-residents were forcibly removed. The District Six area comprises of Zonnebloem, Walmer Estate and the lower reaches of Vredehoek.
“Most of Zonnebloem was destroyed except for a few schools, churches and mosques. A few houses on the old Constitution Street were left, but the homes were sold to white people,” Bennet said.
“This was the case with Bloemhof Flats (renamed Skyways). Most of Zonnebloem is owned by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I think for residents this will mean a lot because it’s a case of residents feeling that they don’t exist at all and it’s about their identity,” she added.
As reported by IOL, Shahied Ajam, the Chairperson of the District Six Working Committee, said the committee fully supports the campaign.
“The name Zonnebloem has the apartheid stigma still attached to it and when that area was used to house slaves and merchants, it showed the horror of the apartheid era,” he said.
Picture: District Six Museum