District Six Museum, Cape Town

District Six Museum, Cape Town (must see)

The District Six Museum, situated in Cape Town, stands as a reminder of the forced displacement of 60,000 inhabitants during the apartheid era in the 1970s. This museum, which found its home in an old Methodist church, is deeply rooted in the history of the former inner-city residential area known as District Six. Established by the District Six Foundation in 1994, five years after the foundation's inception in 1989, the museum serves as a memorial to the diverse community that once thrived in District Six before their lives were irrevocably changed by apartheid's cruel policies.

At the heart of the museum is a large map of the district laid out on the floor, annotated with handwritten notes by former residents. These notes mark the locations of their former homes, bringing a personal touch to the history depicted. Among these residents was the celebrated jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim, also known as Dollar Brand, highlighting the rich cultural heritage that characterized the district. The museum also houses a collection of other significant items such as old traffic signs, exhibits that capture historical moments and the lives of families from the area, historical declarations, and exhibits detailing the demolition of the district.

Beyond its role as a keeper of memory, the District Six Museum actively engages with the present and future of the area. It offers programs aimed at the development of the district, involving current inhabitants in the construction of housing, environmental planning, and the organization of music, literature, and art activities. This engagement is part of the museum's broader goal to foster a community where dignity, identity, and the co-existence of different races are respected.

The museum's significant contribution to preserving cultural heritage and promoting reconciliation was recognized internationally when it received the Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands in 2003. This accolade underscores the museum's importance not only as a site of memory but also as a space for healing and rebuilding.

Why You Should Visit:
Well worth taking a guided tour to get a real understanding of the evil that was apartheid. The guides are former residents (before they were kicked out in 1966).

Tip:
Get there early and take a break at their coffee shop – it's very nice and you must try their samosas and/or koeksisters!

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Cape Town. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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District Six Museum on Map

Sight Name: District Six Museum
Sight Location: Cape Town, South Africa (See walking tours in Cape Town)
Sight Type: Museum/Gallery
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Cape Town, South Africa

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