The District Six Museum launched a campaign on 18 June last year to restore the name “District Six” in the area now known and referred to as Zonnebloem. The museum has stated that they are acting on behalf of the community and have not faced any significant opposition from residents, organisations and institutions in the area.
The rationale behind the renaming is that the District Six restitution process is not complete without it and that the audacity of the Apartheid regime to rename the area as Zonnebloem (sunflower) after the Forced Removals insults those displaced, according to both the director of the museum and the chairperson of the District Six Beneficiary Trust.
“Our staff and volunteers have gone on door-to-door campaigns in the actual District Six area. So far we haven’t really come across any people who are against it,” said the director of the District Six Museum, Bonita Bennett.
“We have sent letters out to organisations, to individuals and to institutions as well. We haven’t really had a response from them, but I don’t imagine that they would have a problem.”
“Many concerns have been about returning to the area and the fact that they (those returning from the removals) are getting their correspondence without a postal code that says ‘District Six’. It feels like an incomplete restitution when they’ve made the assumption that when they’re coming back to the area, the name would be restored….a lot of it is about restitution or the restoration of something that was lost.”
Bennett emphasised the need for support and indicated that the campaign is not simply about renaming an area or satisfying a single community.
“This is not the Museum’s campaign – we’re doing it on behalf of the community. People haven’t realised that the name has not been District Six.”
“I would like all people to support the campaign…it is part of our Capetonian history.”
Chairperson of the District Six Beneficiary Trust, Dr Anwah Nagia rejects the name “Zonnebloem”. Dr Nagia argues that the name is insensitive and is an injustice to the people of District Six.
“We have never accepted that the destruction, the completely genocidal approach to District Six, the uprooting of thousands of families who were displaced and that their changing lives could ever have been the sunshine or the sunflower of our history,” said Dr Nagia.
“They callously and insensitively renamed these areas. District Six was never the Zonnebloem of our destruction. We never accepted that name.”
Nagia commends the District Six Museum for taking up this initiative and says that it is most appropriate for it to be doing so, rather than any other body.
“The District Six Museum is completely well-placed in many things. Not only in renaming District Six but as well as the issues around keeping alive the memory and the resistance in a coherent and institutionalised form…It’s probably the correct initiation by the correct organisation.”
“I think we must commend them,” said Nagia.
“It’s just crazy that the fathers or the mothers of the city have not found it in their hearts to do this without us pressuring them.”