Noor’s Story: My Life in District Six

“This is my story and the story of my family. We grew up and lived in District Six, an area of approximately one and a half square kilometers, which spread along the flank of Table Mountain south of the ventre of Cape Town. District Six  was given this name in 1867 because it was then the sixth municipal district in Cape Town. It was originally a mixed community of freed slaves, immigrants, labourers, merchants and artisans. Later it included a different kind of mix – artists, politicians, businessmen, musicians, writers teachers, sheikhs, priests, gangsters, sportsmen, housewives and always lots of children.
Sixty to seventy thousand people lived together in great harmony until disaster struck our community. (…) On the 11th of February 1966 District Six was officially declared an area for white people only. This is one day i will never forget. (…) District Six buzzed with talk about its future. Friends and family began to worry about life would change. The uncertainity made me feel empty. But nothing happened immidiately and after the shock life went on as usual. It was nine years later in 1975 that the darkness descended on my family. One evening on my way home from work, I saw bulldozers demolishing houses and shops. (…) Day after day, the bulldozers came closer to our house. (…) Officials of the government told me that I had one month in which to clear out.”

Noor Ebrahim, geboren 1944, erzählt in bewußt einfacher Sprache und vielen zumiest selbst gemachten Fotos vom Leben in diesem Bezirk, in dem er bis 1975 lebte, leben durfte: Von seinen Großeltern, die Ende des 19. Jhdts. aus Indien nach Cape Town kamen und im District Six eine Ingwer-Bier-Fabrik eröffneten, von seiner Babykleidung strickenden Mutter, von der Großfamilie, Schulerlebnissen, ersten Zigaretten, ersten langen Hosen, ersten kleinen Jobs, Freund_innen, Fussballspielen, Hochzeiten, Festen, Lieblingsbäckereien, dem Ramadaan, seinen eigenen Kindern… kurz: von einer Kindheit und Jugend in einem großem Grätzel, das vieles bot, eine eigene Welt für sich war.  Wollten Weiße mit nicht-weißen Freunden essen, gingen sie in ein Restaurant im District Six, wollte man “banned films” sehen, ging man in ein Kino im District Six; frische Fische inklusive dem neusten Gossip? Im District Six. Gemälde von Straßenszenen kaufen? Im District Six…
Ebrahim verbildlicht an vermeintlichen Kleinigkeiten die Zäsur, die durch die Verordnung des Apartheids-Staates gezogen wurde, der Bezirk infolgedessen Schritt für Schritt “gebulldozed” wurde und die dort lebenden Menschen vertrieben wurden:
“When District Six was demolished, Cape Town lost soemthing very special. The fish market was a landmark that now exists only on the memories of those who once knew it.” (S. 70) oder: “However, it came all to an abrupt end when there was nothing left to paint of the old District Six.” (S. 74) “We were ordinary people, living a rich and satisfying life. We cared for each other and about each other. And when it ended, I thought my hapiness had received a blow from which it would never recover.” (S. 82)

Ebrahim, angestellt bei Reader’s Digest, hatte Glück genügend Geld zu haben, um sich 1975 in Athlone ein Haus zu kaufen; er und seine Familie mussten nicht in eines der vorgesehenen Gebiete für die aus dem District Six Vertriebenenen; Gebiete mit schlechter Infrastruktur, weit weg vom Stadtzentrum. Der erfolgreiche Taubenzüchter Ebrahim nahm seine Vögel nach Athlone mit und richtete für sie einen Kobel ein: “After three months in Athlone, I felt that it was time to let the pigeons fly free to see if they would return home. (…) When I returned home that evening, the first thing I did was visit the loft. (…) Not a single pigeon had come back. After a sleepless night I returned to work the next morning, driving, as I always did, through the demolished landscape that was once District Six. As I dorve past the now empty plot that used to be my home in Caledon Street, I saw a sight which shook me to my core: my pigeons, all 50 of themn were congregated on the empty plot where our home had stood. Getting out of my car, I walked over to where the pigeons were. Very surprisingly, they did not fly away, but looked into my eyes as if to ask: ‘Where is our home?’” (S. 83)

1992 wurde das District Six Museum “as a two-week exhibition, to commemorate the destruction” eröffnet; “The Museum has flourished from its inception. It has become a symbol of remembrance and survival in our country. The photographs and artefacts donated by ex-residents have become the nucleus of an ongoing series of exhibitions. The museum has captured their loss for all to see.” (S. 84) Als einer der Leiter des Museum – “a return of meaning into my life” – führt er nicht nur durch das Museum, sondern auch durch das Viertel und zeigt die vielen Brachflächen (wounds). Er wartet weiterhin auf seine Rückkehr.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.