District Six Forceful Removals – Investigative Inquiry

Developer’s Name:

Oscar Koopman, Ph.D.


Grades 10 – 12

Lesson Description:

Before the institutionalization of legal apartheid in South Africa in 1948 , District Six was one of the largest cosmopolitan communities in Cape Town. Approximately 60,000 people lived in District Six. The space is often remembered as an interracial community where Black, white, Coloured and Indian people were socially integrated and lived in harmony with each other. Swanson and Harries (2001, p. 80) describes the atmosphere and social experiences of the people in District Six through the memories of its ex-citizens as follows: ‘at times it was a place of violence, but mostly it was a place of love, tolerance and kindness’. The National Party came to power in 1948, and the Group Areas Act was legislated in 1950. This Act resulted in District Six becoming a ‘Whites Only’ neighborhood, leading to the exodus of approximately 60,000 Black and Coloured people being forcefully moved 20-50 km outside the city.

In this lesson, the students will dissect what happened during the forceful removals of the District Six community by focusing on the 5W’s -Who, What, Where, When, Why and the H – How of the event, and; what led to the event. Using their reflections from the 5W’s and H activity, they can expand their understanding of how the violation of people’s human rights can destroy not only the lives of the people that were forcefully removed, but also of the future generation to come.

The students can use this event of the forceful removals that took place in District Six to connect with how the Indigenous and Black people (e.g. Africville Nova Scotia) in Canada had their human rights violated when their land was taken away from them with the arrival of the Europeans.

Lesson Objectives:

World Studies

  • Students can use the process of historical inquiry and the concepts of historical events when investigating aspects of world history since 1900
  • Students investigate the forceful removals of District Six


  • Use the 5W’s and the H as an investigative tool to combine the objective as well as the subjective dimensions of history when write about a topic
  • Use the 5W’s and the H to provide a critical analysis on the topic of the forceful removals

Relevant Ontario Curriculum:


  • Developing and Organizing Content: generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience;
  • Using Knowledge of Form and Style: draft and revise their writing using a variety of literary, informational, and graphic forms and stylistic elements appropriate for the purpose and audience;
  • Applying Knowledge of Conventions: use editing, proofreading, publishing skills and strategies, and knowledge of language conventions, to correct errors, refine expression, and present their work effectively;
  • Reflecting on Skills and Strategies: reflect on and identify their strengths as writers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful at different stages in the writing process.

Relevant Ontario Curriculum Documents

Human Rights Instruments:

  • Declaration of Universal Human Rights

    Article 3 – Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of a person.Article 13 (1) – Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.Article 17 (1) and (2)

    1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
    2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
  • Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms
    Mobility rights – section 6(1) and 6(2)

    1. Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.
    2. Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent
      resident of Canada has the right:

      1. to move to and take up residence in any province; and
      2. to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.
  • Human Rights in Education
    • Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
    • To value human dignity and develop individual self-respect and respect for others
    • To promote respect, understanding and appreciation of diversity, particularly towards different national, ethnic, religious, linguistic and other minorities and communities
    • To promote democracy, development, social justice, communal harmony, solidarity and friendship among people and nations


Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Guide to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Lesson Plan Details by Stages of African Epistemology:




Research Project

Do an investigation into the following question:

  • Compensation for the ex-citizens (and their descendants) of District Six is not only about the restitution of land and houses, but it is also about the restoration of their human dignity, cultures and all other human rights that were violated. Use the events of what happened in District Six to write an essay on: What can be done to create better futures for the historically marginalized to empower them for better futures?



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Mandela Global Human Rights: Peace, Reconciliation and Responsibility Copyright © by Dolana Mogadime (Ed.) Project Lead is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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