Maybe it’s the enigma associated with port cities across the globe: Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, Shanghai... Perhaps it's the power inherent in the everyday lives of people and their music – think Goema, the musical love child of Cape Town’s past, and the scarred and empty landscape of District Six from which 60 000 residents were forcibly removed in the 1960s – that has provoked such interest in uncovering the lesser known stories of the District: the proverbial untold stories.
The District Six Encounters Series invites visitors to step out onto the land, hear stories from ex-residents and returnees and experience the food, music and folklore that formed the backbone of District life before its destruction.
From March to June 2013, four main tours have been planned:
Thursday Sunset Walks: The evening light falling over the vacant land of the District brings into sharp focus the horrors of the forced removals. This walk is to four main sites that have been identified for memorialisation by the returning community, each telling a poignant story. The tour starts at the museum and ends in the home of a returned family who have been successful in their claim for restitution.
Thursdays 28 March, 25 April, 30 May and 27 June from 17h30-19h00. Cost is R100 per person. Length is 2 hours.
Stories of Hope: This tour starts at the museum and ends in conversation in the homes of two families who have been successful in their claim for restitution. It includes sharing traditional snacks and a cup of tea. The process of return enabled by the Land Restitution Act of 1995 has been a rocky yet hopeful one for the returned families. The stories of their lives – their resilience and their hopeful approach to a future which, at times, was uncertain – is exemplary.
Saturday 6 April, 4 May and 1 June at 14h00 or at arranged times for groups. Cost is R120 per person. Length is 1 ½ hours.
‘No Matter Where We Are, We are Here’: inspired by words spoken by an ex-resident on entering the District Six Museum for the first time. There are two options in this set:
- ‘Memories of the East City’: this walk meanders through destroyed sites around the museum, stopping at a selection from 10 to listen to a story or reflection.
- ‘Never, never again’ draws on the slogan that was the rallying call against atrocities worldwide, taking visitors to sites that reveal the desire to return and protect the rights of others.
At 14h00 on Saturday 20 & 27 April; 4, 11, 18 25 May; 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 June. With koesisters and coffee at the start, cost is R100 per person. Length is 1 ½ hours.
The Music of District Six is legendary. Goema, jazz, langarm, street bands or minstrel choirs in the streets and halls gave the area a distinctive character. A musician will guide visitors along a short stretch of the route followed by the marching bands; and older musicians will engage in performance and reflection of their musical lives. Tours end at the Homecoming Centre for a brief performance and music documentary.
Second Saturday of each month at 14h00 on 13 April, 11 May and 8 June, or on request for groups. R150 per person includes a snack at the Museum’s Homecoming Centre. Tour is 3 hours.
The District Six Encounter Series tours are in addition to the daily tours inside the museum.