• Two Rivers Project

    The Two Rivers Project is a continuation of our research into forced removals in District Six and the life of Cape Town. It also forms part of our ongoing documentation and recording of working class community histories. The Liesbeeck and Black Rivers have played an important role in the creation of Cape Town. First inhabited by the nomadic Khoi, then Dutch farmers and slaves, vineyards and anglicised villages later developed near these waterways. More recently both urbanised and green spaces along the banks of these rivers are testament to the extensive relationship people forged with sites along the rivers through time. Oral history has the power to enable us to re-imagine connections between people and the landscape. During Apartheid thousands of people in different communities suffered forced removals throughout South Africa. In Cape Town many suburbs along the Liesbeeck and Black Rivers were declared white in the 1960s after the passing of the 1955 Group Areas Act. Places such as Protea Village below Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Newlands Village, Claremont, Belletjiesbos, Harfield Village, Mowbray and Black River in Rondebosch were areas where people had to leave because they were not classified white, and in fact were labelled 'disqualified'. By understanding that people were moved away from their neighbours, friends and extended family and had to make a life for themselves in new unfamiliar areas and suffered emotional trauma and hardship is testament to their courage. The forced removal of people to the Cape Flats resulted in the severage of ties to these rivers.

    The Two Rivers Project objectives include:

    • To bring into public awareness the sites of 1960s forced removals along the Liesbeeck and Black Rivers and to acknowledge oral history as a valuable and valid methodology in research and writing history.
    • To create a learning journey for the public and act as a stimulus for debates around land ownership and apartheid spatial engineering.
    • To foster environmental stewardship and appreciation of historic places, sites and landmarks and to make visible what has become invisible through forced removals.

    Tangible resources have been developed that extend the professional museum practice, unique visual language and methodologies of the Museum.

    Two Rivers Educational Resource Folder

    This has been designed for educators and provides alternative methodologies and references with a focus on forced removals, oral history methodology and research. The folder is organised into six sections, each examining a site of forced removal with case studies that embody various aspects of community. Historic places that represent living links to the past, musical heritage, social biographies, memory maps, graveyards, archival photographs, family trees and oral histories are included. Grade 9 History learners will gain an understanding of how studies in local history and geography are linked to many aspects of their daily lives and the future of their communities.


    Two Rivers Heritage community map

    The Two Rivers Heritage Trail

    The trail can be found along the Liesbeeck River from Protea Village to the Two Rivers Urban Park in Observatory and includes sites of forced removals, environmental projects and existing Dutch and British colonial heritage sites. The Museum recognises that knowledge directly shapes an informed citizenry and sites of forced removal have powerful and provocative stories to tell. As witnesses to the past, they recall the events that shaped history and the people who faced those situations and issues. Places make connections across time that give them a special ability to create an empathetic understanding of what happened and why. Forced removals deeply affected generations and communities across Cape Town and we are constantly engaging with this legacy today in the form of oral histories, restitution processes, memorial parks, heritage day celebrations, commemorative walks, workshops, conference’s, tours and exhibitions.
    For more information and to get involved, contact tina@districtsix.co.za