As South Africa marks Heritage Day 2019 on Tuesday, residents and descendants of the famous District Six community will celebrate as the renaming of Keizersgracht Street to Hanover Street is set to take place. The renaming means a lot more to the people of District Six than being a street sign and official name. For them, it is another step in the process of restoring a forcibly removed dignity of a once proud, diverse and vibrant community. A festival has been planned for the official renaming and a marching procession will lead all in attendance to the site where the official renaming ceremony is to be held.
The City of Cape Town approved the request for the renaming of Keizersgracht Street in District Six as the famous Hanover Street after a public participation process which concluded earlier this year.
The request for renaming was submitted and initiated by the District Six Working Committee and up to 1 200 residents and interested parties submitted comments.
Many regard Hanover Street as an iconic symbol of District Six’s vibrancy and culture.
“We are taking back District Six in no uncertain terms – starting with Hanover street. We are definitely coming back, and we are coming back to stay,” said chairperson of the District Six Working Committee, Shahied Ajam.
The marching procession is set to start and leave from the Grand Parade outside the City Hall at 10am, according to Ajam. However, attendees are encouraged to arrive from as early as 7am.
Several dignitaries will be in attendance to share a few words and the official renaming ceremony will be conducted by Mayor Dan Plato. The keynote addressed by Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza. Mrs Annie Bam, 96 years old, one of the first successful District Six restitution claimants, who will do the unveiling with the Mayor.
“We invite not only the District Sixers, but every Capetonian, to come and witness this historic event. It’s going to be so great. At last, our dignity is being restored.”
“We will have the traditional foods District Six used to offer and it’s going to be a place where a person of colour can feel, for the first time, that they’re part of the new South Africa, and that we should be treated as equal persons,” said Ajam.
The event is open to the public.
VOC will conduct a live outside broadcast from the Grand Parade from 7am to 9am, following by another broadcast from the main event in Russel Street at 10am.