A suitcase labelled ‘Forced Removal’

If apartheid had forced you to pack in a hurry, what would you have taken?

That was the very real dilemma faced 50 years ago by 60 000 people when Cape Town’s District Six infamously was declared a ‘whites only’ area.

In 1966 the residents of District Six, a mixed area in the heart of the city, were forcibly moved to remote and barren areas on the Cape Flats. They were given little warning of their eviction and many left with little more than a single suitcase.

To help the District Six Museum mark this important anniversary, Ogilvy Cape Town used the symbol of the suitcase as a way of telling the stories of those whose lives were so brutally disrupted.

Working with the museum and with some of the remaining evictees, Ogilvy CT found several vintage 1960’s suitcases and filled them with items from the era including personal items, books, clothing, valuables, actual photographs and apartheid-era identity documents with racial designations like ‘Cape Coloured’ and  ‘Bantu’.

These suitcases were placed on the international and domestic baggage carousels at Cape Town International Airport where they were exposed to a captive audience of 23 000 people per day.

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Custom-made luggage tags, each telling an individual eviction story and offering a discount on entry to the museum, were tied onto incoming suitcases.  Ogilvy also took some of the original District Six evictees to the airport to share their stories with visitors one-on-one.

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