Thursday, February 15, 2007
A Visit to Johannesburg and the Apartheid Museum
Last weekend we visited Johannesburg and the amazing Apartheid museum. The museum follows the history of South Africa up to the instituting of Apartheid and the ways that Apartheid separated and disadvantaged anyone who wasn't white. You are given a tag when you enter that defines your race. Kate was "non-white," Andy was "white." We had to go in through separate entries and were not allowed to meet back up until we had walked through an exhibit on how people were racially defined, which was very much arbitrary. For example, people who played rugby were white, but people who played soccer were colored (of mixed races, it's actually a legitimate term here) or black.
The museum finishes with a celebration of 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected, and an honest look at the violence that existed in the transition to democracy. Given the comparison with nearby Zimbabwe (where there was terrible violence and white farmers were ordered off of thier land for the last 20 years. There was another final deadline just 2 weeks ago and the country looks as though chaos will break out), South Africa has alot to be proud of.
We also had time to explore Johannesburg a little bit. Despite the movies that show it as dangerous and terrifying, it is a very cool city. There are very dangerous parts of the city, but we will be staying away from them and trying to enjoy the cooler parts (good restaurants, shopping, and museums). There is a ton to do there and we were glad to learn the reality of Johannesburg vs. what we saw in Tsotsi.