The house was filled to capacity when over 850 VOC supporters gathered to reminisce about District Six at the annual Golden Hour Luncheon, which was hosted at Darul Islam High, on Saturday. This year guests were taken down memory lane in celebration of ‘District 6: 50 years back’. The event marked 50 years since the suburb was declared a whites only area under apartheid’s group areas act ripping vibrant and diverse communities from their homes. Residents, who have moved back to the historic piece of land, therefore, recalled the pain of the 1960’s forced removals.
“We are overjoyed with the amount of people who have come to show their support. We want to take them back to their childhood growing up in District Six, having them remember what the community was like,” VOC’s marketing manager, Sukayna Johaardien, explained.
The black and white themed event was charged at R199 per head, whilst corporate companies showed support by purchasing tables charged at R 4,000.
Guests enjoyed a three course meal sponsored by Ashurah Caters and Polar ice-cream. The event which is in its 6th year of running was hosted by VOC in collaboration with the Gift of the Givers Foundation.
The luncheon also celebrated Yusuf Fisher’s show, The Golden Hour, which has been on air since the birth of the radio station in 1995. Fondly known as Boeta Yusuf, tributes poured in for the presenter, who tragically lost his wife and only daughter in recent weeks. Boeta Yusuf, who could not join in the festivities, was replaced by Mohamad Zain.
“We look forward to this event every year. Our hearts are with Boeta Yusuf and Inshallah, Allah make it easy on him,” Shanaaz Khan stated.
Listeners expressed that Fisher’s show was inclusive of the heart of the community and placed VOC on the map as a pivotal community broadcaster.
“Our hearts bleed for Fisher who is a class act. We love the Golden Hour and VOC – it is really “my radio station, your radio station, our radio station,” Maria Sulaiman expressed.
The theme of the event was based on a theatre production produced by Wasief Piekhan, titled ‘Inne District’. Crowds erupted with laughter as Piekhan entertained guests with his comedic one liners.
All ex-residents of District Six, who are over the age of 70, were welcomed to come and share their memories of living in District Six at the luncheon. District residents had a table allocated to them.
District Six, in the east end of Cape Town, was once one of the most culturally mixed neighborhoods’ in South Africa. The area in 1966 was, however, declared a whites-only area resulting in forced evictions. The new laws ultimately forced 60 000 non-white individuals to relocate to demarcated areas. District Six, consequently, became a symbol of the Apartheid era.
Uncle Asmie Salie (70) who was forced to relocate to Mitchells Plain, following the Group Areas Act, described the massacre of the area as heartbreaking since communities were ripped apart. Salie says that Fisher’s show makes use of “a dialect” that resembles the community of District Six.
“We still can’t overcome the fact that we were taken out of District 6 as it ruined our lives. In the Qur’aan, Allah S.W.T says ‘if someone hurts you don’t hurt them and the Al Mighty will reverse it’,” Salie noted.
For well-known aunty Roeqiya Jardien (77), she remembers hearing her mother call her from the front door while she played in the street. Jardien recalls waking up to the ‘bilal’ (prayer announcer) at a small mosque in her road. She has since been relocated to Bonteheuwel and says that “things will never be the same in District 6 following the forced removals.”
“We were a close community but even if they move us back into the area it won’t be the same. It has taken too long for them to give us houses. Everyone is dying already. Everyone would have died out before we receive anything,” Jardien asserted.
VOC (Nailah Cornelissen)