Up until the 1970s, District Six was home to almost a tenth of the city of Cape Town’s population. In 1965, the apartheid government, as it had done in Sophiatown in 1957, declared District Six “white”. More than 60,000 people were forcibly uprooted and relocated onto the barren plains of the Cape Flats. In the process, over a century of history, of community life, of solidarity amongst the poor and of achievement against great odds, was imperiled.

The District Six Museum Foundation was established in 1989 and launched as a museum in 1994 to keep alive the memories of District Six and displaced people everywhere. It came into being as a vehicle for advocating social justice, as a space for reflection and contemplation and as an institution for challenging the distortions and half-truths which propped up the history of Cape Town and South Africa. As an independent space where the forgotten understandings of the past are resuscitated, where different interpretations of that past are facilitated through its collections, exhibitions and education programmes, the Museum is committed to telling the stories of forced removals and assisting in the reconstitution of the community of District Six and Cape Town by drawing on a heritage of non-racialism, non-sexism, anti-class discrimination and the encouragement of debate.



A new exhibition Fields of Play: football memories and forced removals in Cape Town will open at the District Six Homecoming Centre, 15A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town on Tuesday 21 October 2008

The Fields of Play exhibition explores the dynamic intersection of memory, football and forced removals in the history of Cape Town. More than merely a scene of pastime and leisure, football offers us some insights into the complex social history that defined Cape Town as a modern South African city.

The exhibition explores the emergence of football on the Green Point Common from the 1800s until the period of forced removals in the 1950s, and its re-organisation on the edges of an apartheid city. The exhibition is a tentative step towards deepening our understanding of forced removals and its consequences on those who administered, played and watched football in Cape Town. As Green Point Common once again becomes the focal point of football in the city with the approach of the 2010 Soccer World Cup – we wish to recall the routes football has travelled from the difficult days of its emergence on the Common, to its re-emergence on the edges of the city.

The exhibition offers an account of football as it was played on Green Point Common (Greenpoint), Maitland (Royal Road), Langa (Langa Stadium), Kenilworth (Rosmead Sports Ground), Athlone (Athlone Stadium), Observatory (Hartleyvale), Salt River (Shelley Street), Wynberg (William Herbert Sports Ground), Rylands (Rygate) and Stellenbosch.

In presenting Fields of Play, the Museum has built on its methodology of combining oral histories and narratives drawn from vast private and public collections to enliven our understanding of the meaning of forced removals.


Offside: South African footballers in the UK exhibition

 A new exhibition about the story of South African footballers in the UK, researched by FURD (Football Unites, Facism Divides), is about to open in time for the World Cup finals.

The ‘Offside’ exhibition will be on display at the highly acclaimed District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa. Through an interactive mix of text, photographs and life-size comic-book-style cut-outs of featured players, ‘Offside’ charts the role football has played in relations between the two countries from the time the game was taken to South Africa by the British colonial power in the 19th century, to the present day.

The exhibition throws up some truly fascinating tales from the 19th century, through the apartheid era and to the modern day Premiership of how South Africa serviced England with so many players for many years.

The trend was set by Wilfred Waller who became the first South African professional footballer to play in the UK, turning out for Bolton Wanderers in 1899. He was followed by Alec Bell in 1903 who played for Manchester Utd and Gordon Hodgson in 1924, who went on to score a staggering 17 hat-tricks for Liverpool.

‘Offside’ is a collaboration between FURD and Kick It Out in the UK, and the British Council and the District Six Museum in Cape Town, with the District Six Museum doing the artwork and design. FURD staff will be in Cape Town for the launch on June 15th and will be on hand to give guided tours of the exhibition until June 28th.

South Africa legend Lucas Radebe gave his backing to the exhibition: “This year’s World Cup provides a chance for people to see beyond what happens on the field of play and learn about South Africa’s rich and difficult history. ‘Offside’ brings this idea to life and offers an exciting story of some of our nation’s pioneering players.”

Garth Crooks, another supporter of the exhibition, said: “Many fans in England will associate the arrival of Phil Masinga and Lucas Radebe at Leeds United in the early 1990’s as the first time South Africans played in Britain. The generation before might remember Albert Johanneson in the 1960’s, but the story begins way before that.”


Alongside the ‘Offside’ exhibition is the Fields of Play exhibition which charts the role that football has played in the Western Cape against the background of forced removals during apartheid.

(Text taken from FURD website: http://www.furd.org/default.asp?intPageID=497 )


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