Baluleka! is a District Six Museum youth programme in Cape Town, South Africa. It is an umbrella and open space initiative with a range of projects that engage young people in the life of the Museum, the city and beyond. Baluleka! aims to recruit young people who are passionate about transforming society. Through their involvement (learning-by-doing) in the different programmes and short projects, youth learn various skills. These range from photography, art and performance, to research, facilitation and community engagement. The Museum values and recognises the potential of young people who contribute to its programmes and who, eventually, become independent drivers of, or participants in, a grassroots movement to reverse the many legacies of Apartheid that South African people still live with today.
The District Six Museum was launched in 1994 and since then, it has worked towards the aim of collecting points and storytelling of this District’s area and its destruction under the apartheid. All the black people were forced to move out in 1966. The forced removals and the devastation of District Six resulted in thousands of homes and family’s belongings destroyed.
The District Six Museum provides a trip back in time and one of the highlighted items is a 300 meters-long memory cloth, where visitors can read thousands of first-hand notes of what life was like in District Six. The District Six Museum is a source of information, knowledge and a symbol of resistance of District Six’s former residents.
“We wish to remember
So that we can all,
Together and by ourselves,
Rebuild a city
Which belongs to all of us,
In which all of us can live,
Not as races but as people.”
(The entrance panel at the Museum).
Digging Deeper is a permanent exhibition at the District Six Museum and it is an important tool in order to remember and tell the history of the District Six. The exhibition’s content tells both stories, a happy one when the District was a racially mixed place; and a sad one, when the brutality of the apartheid state impacted the District Six’s population. The exhibition provokes a reflection on how serious the consequence of a discriminatory regime can be. Additionally, the exhibition can inspire the visitors to fight against discrimination in present in the society, since the understanding of the past is an important tool in order to achieve improvements and equal rights in local communities.
Elements one can find in the exhibition:
– Personal memoirs and items of the former residents.
– Poignant photographs of different times of the District Six.
– Audio and videos with testimonies of former residents.
– Original documents regarding the apartheid state.
– First-hand notes regarding daily routine in the District Six.
– Sculptures and paintings.
– Newspapers informing about the District Six’s events.
Young People engaged
The District Six Museum offers the “Baluleka! Youth Network”. This initiative aims to engage young people in the life of the Museum and the city. The program recruits young people who are eager to promote changes in the society. The young’s involvement and learning can be developed in different areas, for example, photography, art and performance, research, facilitation and community engagement. The “Baluleka! Youth Network” intends to reinforce the movement to reverse the many legacies of Apartheid that the society still faces today.
The District Six Museum offer learning possibilities beyond the classroom. Students visiting the Digging Deeper exhibition can be guided by an ex-resident who will help them to navigate through the layered oral testimonies, documentary evidence, and audio-visual materials.
The ex-residents can offer more than facts to the young, the e-residents can engage the students with personal memories and stories, which can provide a deeper historical and cultural knowledge. As a result of this guided visit, the former residents help students to understand better how the past explains the present challenges.
Photographer: Paul Grendon
The District Six Museum is a member of SAMA (the South African Museums Association) and of ICSOC (the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience)