Response from OCA Chair to the City calling on residents to comment on renaming of District Six Street.

The city calls on residents to comment on the renaming of District Six Street.

Following a request to rename Keizersgracht in District Six to its historical name of Hanover Street, I am now calling on residents and interested and affected parties to share their views as part of an official public participation process. Read more below:

With the legacy of Apartheid still present in many aspects of our daily lives, we need to be mindful of the ways in which we can contribute to addressing the wrongs that we’re committed. One such way is to restore historical names of places, streets, and facilities that may have been changed during Apartheid. While there are many hardships that people will remember, there are some names that bring joy to our communities, and with that the memories that have positive associations.

The City recently received a proposal for Keizersgracht in District Six to be renamed Hanover Street.

The forced removals that took place during Apartheid will always bring painful memories to those who resided in District Six. The proposal is that the renaming could assist in igniting good memories for those who suffered from and experienced these removals.

I am now calling on residents to please share their views with us so that the City Council can consider the comments, and make an informed decision about the proposal to rename Keizersgracht.

The public participation process will officially take place from 15 July to 26 July 2019. However, Capetonians can already submit their comments and share their stories with us by sending emails to [email protected].

Please let us know if you agree with the proposal to have this street name changed to Hanover Street, and tell us why.

Written submissions can also be dropped off at the City’s sub-council offices. Adverts will soon be published in newspapers across the city and we will be drawing attention to the process on the radio too.

Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town

Response from OCA Chair – Tauriq Jenkins

I would like to propose that the OCA supports this renaming process.

I feel that this is a process of restorative justice that seeks to unforthe place and memory of a precinct devastated by Apartheid spatial planning.

Renaming key points of reference holds, in my view, the true potential for preserving, and reviving the living and intangible history of communities that were smashed by Apartheid due to the malign spatial planning which still haunts Capetonians today.

It was with brutal irony that the matchbox township Hanover Park was named after this famous  Street in District 6. As people were evicted and fanned out in different directions during the Group Areas Act, the memory of dislocation became a permanent reminder iconic street names became those of townships.

The CoCT until recently has denied heritage protections for Bo-Kaap, and while it continues to threaten the cultural protection of intangible heritage resources, we ought to support to the hilt this move.

That said, should we agree to submit a comment, I would like to further suggest we come up with further conditions and recommendations that the name change will not act as a buffer against other spatial injustices that keep persistent and that the commitment to this process must come with a deep commitment for reparations.

My suggested recommendations would include:
1. An apology from the City of Cape Town for its role in the forced removal of the residents of  District Six and the delay it has taken to begin place-making and restoration.

2. A commitment to the establishment of a Cape Town City Precolonial and Apartheid Museum that will commit to preserving the intangible heritage of the communities under its administration both pre and post 1994 were severely affected.

3. The concept of ‘good memories’ as described in the press release is a flawed motivation. The orality of a place is not merely about whether or not the memory is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but rather that it is immeasurably meaningful, and that it exists. The ‘good memory’ trope falls into a trap of manufacturing a narrative of historical remembrance which chooses to downplay the gross injustices of the past. This is a political bargain with ambivalent aims that both restore a community divorced from its home while being careful not to aggravate its own colonial vestige and support base.

4. For CoCT to commit to the renaming of all streets that follow the example of Hanover Street.