Joint Talk & Book Launch at the Westridge Library, Mitchell’s Plain, 22 August

Where does history lie?
From Remembering D6 to Writing a History of Mitchell’s Plain.

Ludmila Ommundsen Pessoa and Yazeed Kamaldien will present their complementary latest works and exchange views with the audience in this joint talk at the Westridge Library, Simonsig Avenue, Cape Town, on Tuesday, 22 August at 10:30 am. While Kamaldien will explain his objectives in collecting oral testimonies of displacement from former District Six residents and the issues encountered in dealing with the complexities of truth, Ommundsen Pessoa will explain how the unexpected discovery of the little-known propaganda documentary film ‘Mitchells Plain’ (1980), also featuring residents’ interviews, induced her to ‘counter-compose’ a history of Mitchell’s Plain, thus paving the way for more histories with different and enlarged perspectives. This joint talk will begin with a screening of Kamaldien’s videos and the 1980 documentary film.

Dr. Ludmila Ommundsen Pessoa is a senior lecturer at the University of Le Havre-Normandy (France). From September 2023 she will take up a professorship position at the University of Le Mans (France). Her research now focuses on South Africa’s contemporary literature, history and culture. She is a former director of the Alliance Française in Cape Town and Mitchell’s Plain (2008-2013).

Welcome to Mitchell’s Plain, Filming a ‘Model Township during Apartheid (2023) chronicles the fortunes of Mitchell’s Plain. Its conception as a “model township” for the Coloured —evacuated from their homes by racialised rehousing programmes— and its role as propaganda for the apartheid regime, who heavily publicised it not just within South Africa but also in the international press and commissioned a documentary film for worldwide distribution in 1980. The study draws on official documentary sources and interviews with various social actors whose life experience conveys a very different image of the process.

Yazeed Kamaldien is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He has reported from various countries, including conflict zones such as Yemen, Syria and the Gaza Strip. He was the production manager on Miners Shot Down, which won an international Emmy award in New York in 2015. Yazeed holds a degree in journalism and a master’s degree in international peace-building.

This Was Our Home is a video series of former District Six residents sharing their feelings about their homes, which once stood where the Cape Peninsular University of Technology (CPUT) was built. It aims to provide a platform for the voices of displaced District Six residents with the intention of informing a younger generation about what was lost. It was part of Infecting the City public arts festival and was launched at the St Mark’s Church in District Six in 2017. Watch all the short videos on social media.