CPUT’s Cape Town campus name change to the District Six Campus was made official at a ceremony earlier this month.
Some District Six residents attended the function on Thursday March 8.
Guests were welcomed by the Western Cape Marching band and Kenwyn songbird Cindy Gibbons singing Paradise Road, a song made famous by the South African female group, Joy in the early 1980s and which became an unofficial anthem during the struggle in South Africa.
Acting vice-chancellor Dr Chris Nhla-
po said the renaming process had started back in 2015 with a dialogue involving District Six stakeholders, university academics and other interested parties.
“CPUT has acknowledged that the institution has unfairly benefited from the injustice of the past and the renaming of the Cape Town campus is just one step closer to a more inclusive working relationship with a District Six community.”
Xanthea Limberg, the City’s Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, stressed the important role a university had in building a society.
“We believe that this particular event tonight provokes the principle of inclusivity, foremost importantly also practises the spirit of reconciliation,” she said.
But Bonita Bennet, director of the District Six Museum, said a name change meant nothing if other changes did not accompany it.
“I would have preferred to have seen the renaming emerging out of that process of deep dialogue, which should have included a level of active listening to various voices in the community,” she said.
“We have raised some of these issues with CPUT in the past and hope that we have been heard.
“As a museum we have not seen an institutional investment in preserving the legacies of District Six which earns an institution the right to use the name. “Transparency in terms of its future plans for usage of land to which CPUT has title deed, is not evident and in the context of restitution, this is an important variable.”
Annie Bam, 94, who was born in District Six, was at the ceremony, and she recalled her time there until the removals started in 1968, after District Six was declared a whites-only area under apartheid’s Group Areas Act.
District Six, she said, had been a friendly community where people from different backgrounds had lived and worked together.
Poet Solly Ariefdien, 84, who was born in Wight Street, said the university was important for both future and current generations.
“I am critical of people who take offence of what is happening at CPUT, I think that the time has come for us to put the little things that worry us one side. It’s a far bigger picture if we want to steer humanity as such. Here for the first time in our long history we have an institution that will not only enrich us currently but the children of tomorrow.”