Protea Boekhuis is proud to present The Spirit of District Six by Cloete Breytenbach:
This year it will be 50 years ago that District Six was declared a whites only area and this publication commemorates this event in our history.
This revised edition (in a smaller format aimed at the tourist market) of this beautiful book shows poignant images from Breytenbach’s collection of District Six during the 1970s before the area was dramatically demolished by the apartheid government. It is an historical record about the inhabitants and their surroundings of that time and was compiled over a period of five years.
The Cape Town area known as District Six (so called for its geographic position on the municipal map of the city) developed into a dense residential area close to the centre of Cape Town during the second part of the nineteenth century.
Home to a diverse community with a wide range of historical origins, neglect on the part of landlords and local authorities led to the area becoming rundown. The government repeatedly directed requests to the city council and the landlords – most of whom were white and not residing in the area – to upgrade what was fast becoming a slum on the doorstep of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a white area under the Group Areas Act, and the wholesale removal of the inhabitants was started – mainly to areas away from the city. This process took 15 years and some 60 000 people were removed.
About the author
Cloete Breytenbach embarked on his photographic career in Cape Town in 1951 on the Afrikaans-language daily Die Burger. For the better part of the next 10 years, he worked as a news photographer on various South African publications before leaving for London (The Daily Express) and Europe (on assignment for news magazines including Paris Match and Bunte). On his return to South Africa, he established a photo agency with fellow photographers to supply both local and international publications with images covering major events from the African continent and the world. These photo stories included the ground-breaking first heart transplant for Life in 1967 and conflict coverage from across Africa, including Angola, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Mozambique, Congo and South Africa.
Cloete has held photographic exhibitions in South Africa, the USA, Europe and Japan, and a collection of his images of Albert Luthuli are held in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.