Visiting the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Being that the history of South Africa is overshadowed by apartheid, it made sense that we’d head on over to the Apartheid Museum (next to Gold Reef Casino *shrugs*) to take a look.

Choosing a racial identity at the Apartheid Museum.

Choosing a racial identity at the Apartheid Museum.

When you buy your tickets, each guest is assigned the status of a “white” person or “non-white” person. Upon entry, you are to enter through your assigned door. The baby and I hit the “white” door while Corey took the “non-white” door. I thought we’d walk through the door and meet on the other side in a moment or two so I wasn’t worried. I saw the big passbooks hanging up and wasn’t at all concerned about being split up …  until I realized that it was for more than a moment.

After entering, you’re in a little maze that takes each door in a different direction. My door led me through a series of images and quotes about passbooks and racial segregation before leading me outside. I was confuse as to where my partner was and why we hadn’t met up yet. Just as I was walking up the path, I see him coming down the path. Apparently, he was also starting to get a bit worried. It’s funny how even being separated at a museum for only a few minutes caused us stress. I can only imagine what it must have been like for others.

Once you’ve walked around the outside, you enter through a “front door” looking area. When we went, you could choose to turn right and go into an exhibit about Mandela (I was on Mandela overload at that point) or choose to turn left and ….  whoooo!

The left side has all the heartbreaking stuff. It’s mostly photos, but some rooms made my heart hurt.

‘My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight.’ Amaaandla!  Solomon Mahlangu: 10 July 1956 - 6 April 1979 *Murdered in a prison in Pretoria*  Click the image to read more about Solomon.

‘My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the fight.’ Amaaandla!
Solomon Mahlangu: 10 July 1956 – 6 April 1979 *Murdered in a prison in Pretoria*
Click the image to read more about Solomon.

There is a large image of Black men, naked as they apply for their passbooks. There is a room that has nooses hanging from the ceiling that represents all the people that “killed themselves” while in police custody. There is a tiny room that shows you what a jail cell was like. There are images of children starving, naked, living in shacks while white people took over the land and forced the majority population into almost-slavery. There are images and videos of white people living life and commenting on the ANC and the riots … while they live their beautiful lives … while families are separated and kids go hungry. There is a video with people talking about why they chose to fight and how they chose to fight. It’s funny that white people seemed so afraid of “the natives” that to this day, the areas where white people live are covered with gates and bars and many have trained German Shepards, but …  most of the killing went on in the townships … and was done by the police. #BambathaRebellion1906 #SowetoUprising1976 #District6-1970s

I walked through the museum in stunned silence. Even though I’ve read Kaffir Boy and other books about growing up under apartheid, I was not ready. It reminded me so much of the enslavement of Africans in the Americas, of the Jim Crow of the United States, of the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia and the fight for civil rights in countries around the world.

I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t to feel a sense of connectedness through the suffering of the African Diaspora. What a way to spend a morning.

 

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