johannesburg, south africa, travel

Visiting the Apartheid Museum

November 17, 2015

As someone who usually finds little enjoyment from a museum, this one changed everything. I felt moved from the second I stepped through those doors. It’s hard to imagine that apartheid in South Africa ended so recently in history. Even more difficult to believe it was still going on in my lifetime.

I first visited South Africa in 1995 when I was one and a half years old, just one year after apartheid ended. Every time we visit we stay with my Uncle (who’s been living in Johannesburg since the 70s), his wife and two daughters who all remember apartheid. As they were privileged white European citizens of South Africa, they were sheltered from the horrors that happened during this time because they simply never got to see what was happening. The media never reported it and they didn’t visit the places where it was happening. Long story short: They knew what was happening but they weren’t aware of the extent.
So, anyway, the museum! We rock up and receive tickets that tell us whether we are white Europeans or non-whites and those determine which door you go through to enter the museum. My ticket said ‘nie-blankes non-whites’ so I headed through that door with my Uncle, separated from the rest of my family.
The doors lead through different corridors which eventually follow out to some painted mirrors of individuals and family members who struggled during apartheid.
 Inside the museum there were articles, photographs and documentaries to watch. One of the rooms I found the most breathtaking was the one pictured below, showing the number of individuals who took their lives in prison. 87777
Altogether, it wasn’t a cheery experience but it was important and worthwhile and I’m extremely grateful I got to visit the Apartheid Museum. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone if you’re in Johannesburg or surrounding areas.

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