Thursday, April 14, 2011

Apartheid Museum and Soweto

We flew to Johannesburg this morning. After checking into the Westcliff  hotel we began our tour of South Africa’s dark and turbulent past. We first traveled across Johannesburg to the south of the city to visit the Apartheid Museum, which opened its doors in 2002.

Here we explored the past that examined the story of apartheid from 1948 up to the democratic elections held in 1994. This period’s protagonist was and will always remain Nelson Mandela or as many South Africans call him Madiba.

Madiba is easily remembered but many others should also be remembered including F.W. de Klerk, Desmond Tutu, Albert Lutuli, Oliver Tambo, Steve Biko, Joe Slovo, and the millions who supported and died for the struggle.

Although not featured at the Museum an exceptional photographer and human spirit, Ernest Cole, captured harrowing images (collection published in House of Bondage) that I will never forget:
"Handcuffed Men"

"Mine Recruition"

"Boy in School"

“Boys Playing”

We then continued to Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnship), the largest black residential area in South Africa. This sprawling “city within a city” is home to approximately 2 million people. Our tour route took us to the following points of interest:

·         Chris Han Baragwanath Hospital,

·         Baragwanath Taxi Rank,

·         Hector Pieterson Memorial,

·         and Mandela House.

A song which we were told tells the story of Soweto:

The experience and the rumbling of emotions arising from the Museum and the drive-around of Soweto were both staggering and indelible.

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