The District 6 Museum lays out the truth of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Our guide Noor seemed to have a positive take on where the bulldozed roads to freedom have led, painting an idealistic picture of a former racially mixed and happy neighbourhood in District 6 and the dream for its future. He told us a tale of how during Apartheid a white man and a black dog could sit on a whites only bench, but a black person could not.
He crowded us all into a replica of a room of a typical house in District 6 and said that a family of six would live in this space. I tried to imagine what family life would be like in such cramped quarters but he spoke so joyfully of it, that I knew I would not comprehend from my North American lens.
He shared how District 6 was a racially mixed area where people got along. He pointed out the streets signs from the original neighbourhood. My lost pictures had the map, tributes and poems that were spread out on the floor. He hopes for a time where people can live again in harmony, like before the forced removal.
His sad story about the homing pigeons that was posted on the wall remains with me. A newspaper story of how he raised homing pigeons was among the artifacts. He trained them to come to the new home, after the removals. One day he set them free. They never came back. Driving by the old home, he was startled to find them there. We dehumanize people when we destroy their homes; even the birds knew that home is a place forever engraved in one’s memory.
What value does home have for you? What would you do if your home was bulldozed and totally destroyed? Tonight I saw a prayer of gratitude for my home.