District 6, the theme park

My submission to a competition on visions for a future Cape Town, is this idea which has been banging around in my husband’s and my head for many years:

I propose that District 6 be turned into a place where the ‘apartheid experience’ is recreated. Visitors which could include tourists and South African school children too young to remember for themselves, could, for a fee (sliding scale, please so that locals can enjoy as well ) be taken into the district for an experience they would never forget.

Divided into zones which approximate real neighbourhoods and nodes of interaction, such as the vibrant District 6 itself, a dumping ground, Vlakplaas, and detention centres, parks with non-whites only benches etc, the theme park would provide a number of environments and situations.

On entering, visitors would be issued a dompass and shown their distinctly un-salubrious quarters which could be based on hostels. Food in the form of pap and chunks of grisly meat would be the foodstuffs served. On walking in the street, they would be accosted by police on a pass raid and arrested. A swoop on a bar would lead to more arrests on suspicion of the Immorality act. In the middle of the night, officials could wake up residents and herd them into trucks to dump them in the dumping ground – a bit of unused land, rather like the present Distict 6 -with no bedding, etc. Visitors could be arrested for having banned books in their possession, planted in their quarters beforehand. Posters advertising protest meetings plastered here and there could lure visitors to attend which would result in other opportunities for whistle-blowing, baton-wielding, bullying by police and arrests.

Needless to say, all visitors would eventually be jailed at some stage during their stay.

To provide some relief, cultural highlights such as shows by wandering troops of musicians of varied backgrounds, apartheid poetry readings, drama and street art would be interspersed with the more unpleasant experiences.

Visitors would be given certificated when they left as momentos of their stay -and survival!- and a shop selling themed items such as reproduction whites –only signs, enamel kitchen ware, torture devices, mbiras, truncheons etc, could end off the visit to the theme park.

The project is excellent for job creation in the form of the usual staff plus large troops of riot police, Security Branch and jailers as well as a large number of civilians used to provide local colour.

All profits made from the venture would go towards development projects such as a nationwide extra-curricular after-school enrichment programme.

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