A symbolic act of restoring the historical name of Hanover Street in District Six is hoped to ease some of the pain for those forcefully removed from the area decades ago, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato said on Tuesday.
“It gives me great pleasure to oversee the renaming of Keizersgracht to its historic name of Hanover Street,” he said.
Referring to the move as a “restorative step” after public participation and the approval of the renaming by full council, Plato said he hoped the renaming would “help them to remember the good memories that many will have of living there”.
“Festivities [on Tuesday] included a march to the site, where I was able to address the community and unveil the new street board. It is clear that the community of District Six had a desire for the original name to be reinstated,” he said.
The request had been made by the District Six Working Committee in June and was supported by Plato who called for a public participation process to allow Capetonians to share their views.
District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam on Tuesday thanked everyone who had contributed to the cause.
“We could not have done it without you. We salute you,” he said.
“By the grace of our Almighty Creator the people’s voices reached all corners of the world and at last their prayers were answered. Today, with deep gratitude and humility we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We pay tribute to our past leaders and the present leadership of the wider District Six community.”
A total of 1,195 comments were received, of which 96% were in support of the move.
However, chairperson of the District Six Civic Association Asa Salie as well as Bonita Bennett, director of the District Six Museum, said Keizersgracht was technically not Hanover Street, although it followed the Hanover Street contour after the street grid was destroyed.
According to them, Hanover Street – the business hub of the historical community – was situated on land now owned by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Bennett had called for Keizersgracht to preferably be renamed ‘New Hanover Street’ so that a false history of the geographic site is not perpetuated, as an actual remnant of the original Hanover Street still exists.