Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Apartheid Museum

The pillars of the South African constitution stand tall at the front of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and instantly fills you with pride as you enter. Pride for the achievement of the battles of this country to rise above the ingrained racism and divide. Pride at the memory of the great man, Nelson Mandela, and his life's struggles and work.

I went along to visit the Museum with the tour group, after consulting the blog from last time I was in South Africa, and discovering that I had only managed to see some of the contents inside on my way to the airport. And I am so glad I made the return. The visit gave such renewed context to this country, and it's rebirth as the Rainbow Nation.

Some of the group actually found the entry point, once we had purchased our tickets, pretty confronting, as the ticket determined at random whether you walked through the 'Whites' or 'Non-Whites' entry - a point well made, right at the start. The worry of missing out on something of the Museum that others got to experience - so well done, albeit such a small demonstration of the segregation.

The Museum is rich with information, and the curation is very thorough. You could spend hours here, taking it all in, and we did! The timeline of events, the outline of the major people in the fight against Apartheid, and the tale of the uprising from passive protests, to increasing violence and resistance.

Visiting at present, in the year of the passing of Nelson Mandela, lent a special significance to the exhibits of the Museum, and in fact the Temporary Space had a Mandela: An Exhibition Celebrating The Life Of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. This stepped the visitor through times of as a Leader, as a Comrade, a Negotiator, a Prisoner, and a Statesman. A full outline of his early childhood days, where he got his name from, the background of his clan and the name Madiba, and then his professional life and influences.

It then also presents the struggle and fight, his imprisonment, and his release, before his leadership of South Africa to become the country it is today - a place developing into his vision of equality.

A powerful, absorbing visit, and a must for every visitor to South Africa to gain an understanding of the underpinning of the country and it's tensions and vision for the future. A work in progress, with an incredible foundation to reach the dream.

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