Saturday, November 28, 2009

Apartheid Museum/Nelson Mandela’s house

-The B/W pictures are not mine, but just to give you an idea how emotional it was to go through this museum. - Content not suitable for children!
Weekend 11/7-11/8
Apartheid Museum/Nelson Mandela’s house

Before I get into my next adventure let me tell you bit about the history of Soweto and the historical significance it played. In late 1800’s South Africa experienced incredible gold mining boom. Workers were flocking in not only from all over Africa but European countries as well. In order for the government to keep a lid on the black populations, they moved most of the poor miners and their families to the outskirts of Joburg to keep them separate and confined creating massive townships where people lived/live till today in extreme poverty. Soweto came to be known by the world in 1976 when the government tried to enforce the “Africaan Language” instead of English language in schools stripping the population little by little of their identity. The students organized a peaceful march to deliver a memorandum. However the march did not go as peaceful as thought by the students and organizers alike. The police decided to shut, beat and massacre these poor school children and over 1000s not only the kids but others died during this time. The horrors of the 16th June, 1976 massacre are well documented in the Apartheid museum, which walks you through the horrors of that day and days followed. After these horror events the opposition went underground following the years of prosecution, hunting and discrimination only to finally end the apprehension by first democratic elections in 1994!

So naturally the next stop on our adventure was a visit to the Apartheid Museum and Nelson Mandela’s house. Soweto is not only magical in terms of leaning about the culture and its people but also for many momentous events happened here that eventually helped this country to turn toward the path of democracy. I mean which country can really say that 2 Nobel Peace prize winners come from the SAME Street in the SAME town??? Actually, I can’t think of any other then Soweto as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived here, few blocks away from each other.
It was an amazing feeling to be within the walls of Nelson Mandela’s house where the path for democracy was though and laid out, browsing thorough many speeches, looking through many historical photographs, touching the artifacts remembering the horrors of nights when the police stormed in so many times terrorizing the Mandela’s wife Winnie and their children. Seeing the bullets holes in the walls and imagining what was the life then like and what drove this forefather of South African democracy to never give up on the idea of freedom for the black population and willing to pay the price being beaten, threaten, terrorized and jailed for so many years!?

The journey continued to the Apartheid Museum. I was shocked and deeply moved by the photographs of the horrors, reading thorough the interviews of kids and witnesses, walking though the hallways and just looking and looking in amazement, in deep disbelief that people can be so bloody cruel to one another just because the color of the skin! I was truly ashamed for my race and I was very angry with that government for all the unforgiving and stupid purely stupid rules, thoughts, and apprehension they put on these poor people. I was also shocked to realize that even though the slavery ended in the US in late 1800’s the rest of the world was still in mid’s of discrimination and backwardness until very recent. It’s still hard to believe that the democracy was established here ONLY 15 years ago! I mean we all live in the modern world so how come we are still so ignorant and stupid to discriminate just because your color is different than mine, or you believe in different religion, or you have different sexual orientation and for whatever other reason people tend to discriminate for? Does the color or the religion really matter that much or should we rather look at the people and think that we are all God’s children and your color or your religion does not make you right or a better person then the others? When is the world finally going to wake up? Till today I am astonished to think about all this and I just hope that folks will wake up soon and will do the honorable things we supposed to do while on this Earth!

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