Page 18


2014 is a landmark year in South Africa’s history, marking two decades of democracy. Apartheid was designed to divide. The story of Cape Town since 1994 has been about learning to reconnect. At the turn of the twentieth century, Cape Town was a relatively contained port city with a diverse population of just over 100,000, mainly residing between Table Mountain and the sea. The Grand Parade – a public space located virtually in the centre of the early city – was the place where Capetonians gathered to celebrate, do business, sometimes even protest. With the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910, huge buildings began to be added to the landscape as the city’s status as provincial and legislative capital grew. In addition, Cape Town’s profile as the country’s cultural centre was reflected in the opening (in 1930) of the South African National Gallery in the Company’s Garden. While racial segregation and discrimination were already promoted by national government, the city remained a relative melting pot. District Six (the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town), perched just above and to the east of the central city, within sight of the docks, symbolised this diversity. Settled in the 1800s by a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, immigrants and labourers, the area’s population expanded with migrants escaping rural poverty, until it was home to about ten percent of the city’s population. Its dense, vibrant, culturally rich mix of races, languages and religions gave District Six its cosmopolitan character. Cape Town’s own version of jazz – modelled after the musical traditions of Africa rather than America – has its roots here, as do many renowned writers, educationists, political activists and artists. Sports clubs, community centres, places of worship for different religions, schools and many small businesses provided for the needs of this diverse community. As white South Africans grew more affluent, benefiting from the unfair labour policies promoting their interests – in 1947, a local bylaw placed the onus on Cape Town employers to pay for repatriating black South Africans when their work contracts expired,


A series of photos taken in the 1950’s and 60’s hark back to a period when the city centre had an active public culture. District Six was the epitome of energy, culturally rich with a dense cosmopolitan ecosystem containing all the elements of a good city: pedestrian friendly, vibrant public spaces and cultural institutions and well used public transport. TOP “Fairyland” by Cloete Breytenbach. Courtesy of the District Six Museum. BOTTOM “The British Cinema” by Jansjie Wissema. Courtesy of the District Six Museum. FACING PAGE “Boy on Bus” by Cloete Breytenbach. Courtesy of the District Six Museum

Creative Cape Town Annual 2010  

Creative Cape Town Annual 2010