International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

District Six Museum

Last semester I did a big research project on South Africa and thought the District Six Museum was very interesting.  I feel that it is very relevant to what we have been discussing regarding memorials and forms of reparations that can be given to victims.  The history of District Six is interesting and it is worth reading the museum’s mission statement to connect it to what happened in the apartheid era of South Africa.

District Six was home to much of the Cape Town population before the apartheid regime took over in South Africa.  This regime decided to declare District Six for whites only and so many people were “asked” to leave in order for that change to take place.  Once the apartheid regime took power the history of Cape Town was only half told.  Only white history was allowed to be taught and spoken of in that area since they wanted people to believe that it was a city made by the hard-working European settlers.  They did not speak of the African-Americans that had lived there and they did not mention slavery or the slave trade.  It was as if none of that had ever happened.

In 1994 the District Six Museum opened.  This museum shows the complete history of Cape Town (although it could very well be a government accepted “truth” and still not the complete truth).  It serves as a way to teach the true history of the city, to show what happened during the apartheid regime, and to give victims and visitors the opportunity to reflect on what happened and even give their opinions to the museum owners.

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One response to “District Six Museum

  1. rmalesky April 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    After our discussion on memorials and the purpose they serve, I find this to particularly important. Though I have never been here and its hard to see from their website how inclusive the museum actually is, the fact that they do have something set up in order to recognize the histories that were very much erased is important not only for the survivors of the Apartheid regime but for educational purposes to both the youth of South Africa and any person who may come across this. Apartheid was a period of horrible racism and many people’s stories were completely erased. To now tell those stories holds accountable the people who had done wrong as well as serving to show others in the future why such crimes are so horrible. Museums, in general, are really important to serve as educational tools. We talked about the Holocaust Museum as well as the found-sites in Rwanda in class and the question was brought up on whether or not they were offensive. My reply was that although sights may be shocking and overall offending to some, its crucial that any type of truth or story is not watered down. Crimes are unfortunately committed but if we can see how and why things happened as opposed to just ‘this happened’ we create a possibility for prevention to go hand in hand with the deterrence created by the ICC.

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