Possible renaming of Keizersgracht

2019-07-09 06:00
Keizersgracht could soon be renamed Hanover Street. PHOTO: thabang kuaho

Keizersgracht could soon be renamed Hanover Street. PHOTO: thabang kuaho

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Following mayor Dan Plato’s call, last week, for public comment on the renaming of Keizersgracht Street back to Hanover Street the District Six Museum has given its opinion on the matter.

Director of the museum Bonita Bennet said the museum believed that the names of streets and other landmarks in District Six are of great relevance to the way the history of the area is acknowledged and that renaming these streets formed an important part of restitution.

“At this time, however, we are concerned about a number of factors which leads us to offer our qualified support for the renaming of Keizersgracht,” she said.

“We call on the mayor to take into account, processes that have gone before and that have been left in abeyance by the City. This relates in large part to the development of a Hanover Street precinct.”

She claimed that, although the street follows the Hanover Street contour after the street grid was destroyed, Keizersgracht is actually not Hanover Street.

“At best, Keizersgracht could be renamed ‘New Hanover Street’ so that a false history of the geographic site is not perpetuated, as there is an actual remnant of the original Hanover Street which still exists.”

She said the renaming should be integrated into the broader process of redevelopment and naming streets as houses are built on them. “Some plans for this already exist. In fact, there have been suggestions made by the museum when approached to do so in relation to the current Site Q development.”

She said it was a great tragedy that redevelopment has been delayed for so long.

“It was always intended that processes such as renaming should take place in tandem with the redevelopment and that a holistic understanding should lead as a key principle.”

Bennet said the museum supports the broad principle of Hanover Street finding a significant place within the rebuilt District Six, but their strong reservations have led them to believe that this was not the correct action now. “Strange as it may seem, because our belief in honouring the past through names and rituals, we are not convinced that we can support this particular renaming, believing that the fragile District Six community have a right to have all aspects considered in this process.”

Plato said that with the legacy of apartheid still present in society, the City needs to be mindful of the ways in which it can contribute to addressing the wrongs that were 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 a positive association,” he said.

He said the renaming could assist in reigniting good memories for those who suffered from the removals in District Six.

A public participation process will start from Monday 16 July to Friday 26 July and written submissions can be dropped off at the City sub-council offices.

  • To submit your comments and share your stories email naming@capetown.gov.za.

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