Constitution Hill & Apartheid Museum

26 01 2012

This past weekend was jam packed of stuff!  Friday was a relaxing day and we got a chance to lay out by the pool and get a lot of lesson planning nad work done.

Saturday we got our day started fairly early and headed to Constitution Hill, which used to be a prison during the apartheid.  It was very emotional to be there.  I think back in the United States a lot of museums and places of interest highlight something in a much more distant past, such as the Holocaust Museum.  However, the apartheid was so recent and is such a distinct factor in South African’s current climate that it makes it that much more.  We took a tour of Constitution Hill to see where prisoners were kept (whites/blacks were given different privileges, even as prisoners, covering everything from shower privileges, sleeping arrangements, and food rations) and how they lived.  There was also a separate women’s jail, which had many accounts from female prisoners about the living conditions and treatment.  Constitution Hill also hosts the Constitutional Court, and it was really interesting to learn how they designed the court room itself; everyone (including the public audience) sits at the same level, as equals.

After Constitution Hill we headed to lunch at a market called 44 Stanley, which we had been at before with Heather and her daughter.  Then we headed to the Apartheid Museum.  Ironically, the museum is next to Gold Reef City, which is an amusement park.  It’s pretty weird to be walking into a museum that’s about a period in time as serious as the apartheid while you hear screaming roller coaster riders.  Your ticket had a ‘black’ or ‘white’ tag on the bag, which took you through a specific entrance and you learned about the experience of that race in the beginning of the apartheid.  It was similar to the Holocaust Museum (in Washington DC, where you follow the life of a certain person) but in an eerily real sense.  Since the history of South Africa is so recent, the experience is very different.

I really enjoyed the museum.  It was full of information and as a person who is familiar with the apartheid, it taught me so much more of the deep history of this country and its struggles.  I personally found Constitution Hill harder emotionally, but thought the Apartheid Museum was also really emotionally taxing.  There was a great exhibit on Nelson Mandela, whose autobiography I am still reading.  It was inspirational to see the Nelson Mandela “stick garden” where you picked a colored stick according to a group of quotes.  I chose yellow, which represented quotes on honestly, loyalty, and resilience.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures in most parts of the museum, I did get a chance to take a few in the outdoor parts.  I hope you enjoy them.  Until next time!

Re-creation of a cell in the woman's prison.

"Constitution Hill" written in South Africa's 11 national languages.

Nelson Mandela quote on the way to "Number Four," the prison at Constitution Hill where the men stayed.

Sana, Amanda, and Johannes on the way to the "black" entrance in the beginning of the Apartheid Museum.

One of the yellow Nelson Mandela quotes.

Nelson Mandela 'stick' garden.









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