11 February 1966 is a day that will always be remembered by the District Six community – a date that marked the start of the end. This was the day that District Six was declared a whites-only area. Subsequently, more than 60 000 people were forcibly removed and the buildings were flattened.
Tonight I attended the interfaith service of remembrance of this historic day in South African history, to be honest I am not really that clued up on the history of Distict Six therefore I appreciate events like this taking in the learning experience.
We had a full programme, a welcoming and explanation of why we were in the Lydia Williams Centre of Memory a living monument of District Six – the meditation was a powerful tool allowing us to look inside ourselves clear our thoughts in order to reflect on the importance of this day with a clear mind.
The Reflective talk by Judge Albie Sachs was interesting as he walked us through his memories of exile and coming back to the barren land which he once called home. His memory of the curry in Hanover Street was funny – food really can bring people together. His encouragement to use our rights was inspiring as they did not have the same rights we have today, the freedom these people fought for we should appreciate and be thankful to commemorate and preserve memories like today.
I have been to the Slave day remembrance before and I liked the fact that there are poetry and song, at tonights event we were also entertained with the powerful songs and poetry that moved you.
The service ended with us lighting a candle in remembrance of the other areas of forced removals and a night walk up to the cairn placing a red stone in remembrance – this was a particularly moving experience as it is in the middle of the construction of CPUT residence. The emotion was pulpable in the speakers voices as this was suppose to be a public space of remembrance therefore overshadowing the whole procession it was actually a sad end for me as I felt it should have been a more open and inviting experience.
“Stone cairns have a long history across the world, of serving as markers for places or events of significance.”
I thank the organisers for events like this for us to learn and appreciate our rich history and as a young South African I encourage more youth to be involved and be open to learning in order for us move forward as a more vibrant accepting country – free from all the negativity from our country’s past.
We wish to remember so that we can all
Together and by ourselves
Rebuild a city
Which belongs to all of us
In which all of us can live
Not as races but as people