The Apartheid Museum takes you on a journey beyond the rise and fall of apartheid. Through videos and audios among news excerpts, it displays shifts in student riots, mass uprisings, violence, extrajudicial killings, black consciousness and political activism vis-à-vis apartheid’s severity. Its documentation leads us to the point where South Africa has become a country of signs – either for blacks, whites or other ethnic groups. We’ve had many history lessons including how the ANC rose to power after devising a system of rendering the country ungovernable. Their genius plan made the then government realize that the country had become unsafe for the upper ruling class, and that they weren’t able to get rid of all people against the system. This was the turning point that led to negotiations between Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk’s government.
After the 1994 freedom pact was signed, South Africans and the world knew that apartheid was over and everyone was free. However, there were more post-freedom killings. The country was still tangled in mass violent killings.
Like colonialism, apartheid came with some benefits like industrialization and urbanization. However, these very determinants often used to weigh growing economies aren’t the only elements that matter in the building of a nation, and shouldn’t be the only tools of measuring growth and success.
Apartheid regime’s other objective was to also segregate South Africa from Africa and the world at large in consciousness. The country’s backwardness in pan-African consciousness has today birthed both physical and think tank xenophobic conflict.
Even though South Africa’s constitution today holds the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom, they still have a long way to full integration and empowerment of all races. Many times, we are too critical on South Africa’s democracy forgetting how young a liberated country they are. Like in many African countries, they too have corruption in government and within the black elite. They have been at crossroads regarding policies on land reallocation, and race integration within all suburbs, institutions and organizations. In so many ways and ideals South Africa was swayed and in so many ways the country has rebuilt itself today.
I also learn that the apartheid narrative is most times narrowed. The museum also documents different groupthinks during the apartheid regime. Some white natives were against the system. Blacks who aided it were called informers – they would be hunted and if found, circled in tires and burnt alive. A neo-nazi separatist political organization – the Afrikaner Resistance Movement (AWB) opposed apartheid laws and negotiations with ANC, proposing South Africa to become an Indie Afrikaner state.
The fact that during apartheid bi-racial relationships were a crime makes me wonder what I’d have had to do for love if I was caught up. Despite new age South Africa, Tomas and I still get strange jeers from locals, mostly construction workers along Sandton, while walking down the streets. Even though we don’t comprehend what they are saying, we know that it has something to do with us being a bi-racial couple. From Rosebank, Soweto to downtown – we travel around Johannesburg, and this only happens in Sandton, an upper class area. In a full week, we also only see one other bi-racial couple. I am just happy that I visited South Africa at a good time and could be free in Jozi with the man of my choice – and it wasn’t a crime.
BONUS: Next blog post is on Nelson Mandela’s Exhibition at the Apartheid Museum
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