Cape Town :The mother city
Think Quest 2001
Made in the RSA
origins and early history of District Six
of what happened to District Six, there has been a tendency for non District
Sixers and even District Sixers themselves to see that part of Cape Town as a
place apart from the mother city.
Six became an area mainly for the working class and the petty.
Therefore District Six became overcrowded and with poor housing and lack
the early part of urbanization of District Six or at least until 1867, it was
officially known as District Twelve or unofficially as Kanaladorp.
The name Kanaladorp either derived from the Malay word “kanala”,
meaning to help one another or was a reference to the fact that the District was
build to the east of a canal or ditch (called the cape sloot).
Kanaladorp only became officially District Six after Municipal act of
which the old Municipality of Cape Town was redivided into six districts.
1900 one could say that the greater part of Cape Town from the castle through to
Observatory was regarded as the lower class, District Six was part of this lower
class belt. By 1900 the largest group of people whom the Cape government
referred to as “Malay”, “Mixed and Other” or “Coloured” i.e., those
Capetonians of darkish skin, lived in poor conditions.
A map of District six back in 1966.Click for Larger view
landlords were referred to as the dirty party and the merchants as the clean
party. The cleans criticised to
dirties for refusing to raise and spend money on sanitation and water supply.
the cleans did introduce improved sanitation- an extensive drainage system and
improved water facilities, but they spent almost no money on housing or
providing a park or swimming bathes for an area like District Six.
Most of the council’s money was spend on shopping centres and stores.
of this led to the sever neglect of District Six.
This was a common sight in District Six, once the land lords found out about the removal of District Six, they did nothing to the buildings from that time on
Overcrowding was a big problem in District Six at the time
of the problems was that the council’s carts that collected waist (in the days
before sewers) hardly ever visited the back streets of the District.
Human filth was therefore piled up against its outside walls. Its inhabitants apparently had no change of clothes but this
was not regarded by the council to be unusual.
Nor was the overcrowding, itself an obvious symptom of poverty.
In 1890, a major drainage and sewerage scheme for the city was undertaken
and eventually included the District, but this did not solve the overcrowding
Six at the turn of the century may have been poor, but it was undoubtedly a
vibrant place. It was, arguably, one of the prime areas in the Cape.
District Six teemed with pubs and canteens, with outdoor games, gambling
dens and brothels.