Posted on: 27 September 2021

Every member of staff at CNWL contributes to making a difference, not only to the lives of patients but to the welfare of their community. Martin Greshoff, a Support Worker in the West End Primary Care Network, has managed to care for the community he works in but simultaneously care for another in South Africa, as he is part of a legacy keeping memories of a former beloved community alive.

Martin has published a book called District Six: Memories, Thoughts and Images, it brings together anecdotes from former residents, along with poems about the area and photographs.


The story of District Six is a truly sad one, but because of those that lived there and their families, it is also a story of hope.

District Six was a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town. It was a multi-ethnic community described as having a soul of its own and noted for its inclusivity. During apartheid, from the mid-1960s to early 1980s 60,000 residents were forced to move, as the area was declared only for whites. Today parts of District Six are no longer there, the area where it once stood comprises of undeveloped land, and other parts now form two separate towns.

It’s difficult to find hope in a story as upsetting as this, but, with everything that has happened, nothing has diminished what District Six stands for – inclusivity, people of different races, religions and classes living alongside each other. Although District Six may not stand physically today, it’s still felt by those who lived there, and they are carrying its message of inclusivity for future generations. The book Martin has compiled together carries the legacy of District Six even further.


On what he hopes readers will take with them when reading this book, Martin said, “I would like readers to reflect on how people treat each other. I also hope to make people aware of what happened, and the deep sense of humiliation and actual deprivation suffered by the former residents. Such injustice should never happen again anywhere.”

Martin’s uncle had documented Cape Town in the 1970s through photography and captured life in District Six during apartheid. On his uncles passing, Martin & his siblings inherited the photos of District Six and shared them on social media, this was a catalyst for former residents to get together and share their own stories in a book.

Books have been written on District Six before but this book needed to be different, “The whole idea for the book was to get at least some of the former residents themselves to give their own accounts, both tragic and humorous, rather than another book about them but not by them,” Martin says.

No area is perfect and this book doesn’t shy away from imperfections, it is a true depiction of District Six in its entirety - an important quality as opening up imperfections leads to a fuller understanding of District Six’s unique soul.

Compiling the memories of District Six together was an understandably emotional experience for Martin, “I felt much sadness and anger at what the apartheid government inflicted on people of District Six and other areas of Forced Removals and the pain and anguish they suffered.” Not only were there emotions from the stories but he was also going through his late uncle’s photos. Martin’s uncle “was an influential figure” to him and his brothers and he inspired them to take up photography. “Going through my uncle’s archive did make him feel closer to him.” Martin explained.

From the start of Martin’s writing journey to now, he has found himself part of the District Six community, he said, “In the shared work of the memoirs, the poems and short biographies, I came to know the contributors individually, and I value them greatly.”


As part of Martin’s role as a Support Worker he helps to integrate individuals with complex needs and conditions into the community. So, every day at work Martin brings the integrated character of District Six to London.

The book Martin co-wrote is a reminder that a community is more than a location, it’s a spirit, and District Six’s spirit will never fade as long as the stories and memories of it continue to be told. 

District Six: Memories, Thoughts and Images is published in South Africa and not easily available in the UK due to high courier costs. Contact if you are interested in ordering a copy as arrangements can be made. However, if you’re in Cape Town visit the District Six Museum and while you’re there you can pick up a copy.

Find out more about the District Six Museum here

View photographs of District Six online here: