Youth urged to fight gentrification

Residents of District Six and Bo-Kaap gathered at the Al Azhar Mosque on Sunday June 24 for a panel discussion about gentrification.

“The youth will be lobbied and used in the upcoming 2019 elections and it’s of utmost importance for young people to know themselves, know what they stand for and have a vision for the future they want.”

So said the director of the Women’s Legal Centre, Sehaam Samaai, at a panel discussion about the threat of gentrification facing Bo-Kaap and District Six.

The discussion was held at Al Azhar Mosque in District Six on Sunday June 24 and included activist Dr Anwah Nagia, dean of St George’s Cathedral Reverend Michael Weeder and Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe.

Ms Samaai encouraged the youth of Bo-Kaap to take a stand and find their purpose while fighting gentrification in the area.

“My vision was limited because all I had was my job as an attorney to fight issues facing communities, but young people these days can have a brighter and bigger vision,” she said.

She urged them to fight discrimination and bring women into leadership positions.

Dr Nagia spoke of the spirit of District Six that had been lost
and asked whether Bo-Kaap was next.

He said gentrification was a problem in both communities and applauded the youth for starting a new momentum in the central City.

He said urgent intervention had been needed to fight gentrification in the area and he praised the youth of Bo-Kaap for doing just that over the past month.

“Government is willing to do anything to beautify remote areas such as Atlantis and Manenberg but the problem is the CBD.

“If rhinos can be saved, then communities can be saved too, and the youth of Bo-Kaap is on the right path, District Six and Bo-Kaap should be dignified homes for dignified people,” he said.

Reverend Weeder talked about the spirit of unity, reflecting on the District Six of yesterday and the Bo-Kaap of today.

He told the residents to defeat the misconception that they were a minority and advised them to never forget the importance of ubuntu when fighting issues.

“The society has socialised people into seeing each other
in classes, race lenses, and that shows and slips in our tongues every day.

“Nothing can be achieved without the spirit of togetherness,” he said.

Judge Hlophe highlighted the rule of law during apartheid in District Six and the rule of law now in Bo-Kaap.

He said communities should empower young people because they were the future. He said they would need to work together to stop gentrification in Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap Youth spokesperson Shakirah Dramat thanked District Six residents for their support and solidarity.

She said the youth drew inspiration from elders who had been fighting for years.

“The youth of Bo-Kaap have done their homework and we now know what we want and we’re coming for everything,” she said.