“Nelson Mandela on breathing machine”, “Nelson Mandela in critical situation” are the headlines on www (26th June 2013)
My memory flashed back to my 1/2 day tour through Johannesburg in 2011, specifically Soweto, the Apartheid museum and Hector Pieterson Museum. In a “scratching-on-the-surface” impression I was introduced to Apartheid, the Anti Apartheid movement, the SOWETO revolution in 1976 and Nelson Mandela’s life stations.
What makes Nelson Mandela Nelson Mandela, is how he treated his oppressors. A leader – indeed, a hero, a lawyer, an activist, a father of a HIV/AIDS victim, a football enthusiast, with a sense of humour and great sense of diplomacy. These are the impressions I got of this icon, this Nobel Price winner.
I compiled a few photographs of this moving journey through the history of Johannesburg, showing below.
First impression of Soweto with what is called “the typical African sky”
This cloud formation is typical for Africa, which is why it is called “The African Sky”, I was told by my brother and sister-in-aw, who were living in Johannesburg during our visit.
Hector Pieterson Museum
– A Memorial to the Soweto Uprisings
View from the Parking-area of the Hector Pieterson Museum. This Museum has a lot of information on the background of the Anti-Apartheid-movement and the SOWETO revolution, shown in multimedia presentations. Photography is not allowed in this museum, which is a good thing. You are free to concentrate and let the information sink in, which you get there.
Nelson Mandela’s house (in Soweto)
Our next stop was at the Nelson Mandela’s house in Soweto, a 4 room (matches) house. I found this introduction, the excerpt of which I am sharing here.
Soweto – an acronym for South-Western Township – provides visitors with a unique cultural experience. It is the largest black residential area in South Africa, a product of the apartheid government’s policy of segregation. A lively, culturally rich area on the periphery of Johannesburg, it has a rich political history – it was a site of struggle in the fight for freedom in South Africa
In Orlando West, on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane streets, visitors will find the modest house that Nelson Mandela and his family called home from 1946 to the 1990s.
Mandela donated the house to the Soweto Heritage Trust (of which he is the founder) on 1 September 1997, to run as a museum. It was declared a National Heritage Site in 1999
More Soweto Impressions
For more Soweto impressions, the driver of our hired car drove around the place, where I shot a few pictures.
This is a controversial message for some people and perfectly natural and normal for others .
Not to be missed: Apartheid Museum
Apartheid is part of South Africa and was ended not so long ago! How could I have left without a visit to this deeply moving museum, again stirring me up from inside out. In this museum photography was allowed, but I stopped. It was too interfering and exhausting to concentrate on the exhibition and take pictures. Additionally the photographs were interrupting the context of the exhibition, which needs to be taken in as a continuous, which the photos could not represent!
The exhibition is laid out, to make you (visitor) feel the desperation and hopelessness of racism and segregation. This was emotionally the most captivating visit of a museum for me. Interesting to note was, that the first Apartheid laws were about family life!
Next morning we were scheduled to fly out of Johannesburg with many intense impressions gathered in Kruger Park, the Beach at Durban and to top it off, the trip through historical sites of Nelson Mandela’s Johannesburg and South Africa.
Luckily I had anticipated this exhaustion and booked 2 nights in Dubai on our way back, but that’s another story!
Further reading and tips
- Do take time for the Soweto tour and the museums. My advise is to do a Soweto tour with guided tour* and on a separate day and the museums on another day.
- (* just an example of a guided tour, I don’t have any experience with them, thus not to be taken as a recommendation)
- It isn’t really necessary to do both museums, the Apartheid Museum suffices. In fact some of the exhibitions of the Hector Pieterson museum are repeated in the Apartheid museum.
- Take at least 1/2 day for the Apartheid museum or go more than once.
- Besides these historic places we also visited the Rosebank Market, which is a handicraft market in Johannesburg and definitively a must visit. Separate post will follow.
These are just for further reading and not considered as recommendation. I have no experience with them, unless specified!
- Sowetotour.co.za – take at least on a separate day for this trip
- SA Travel (in German)
- The African Craft Market of Rosebank – now this is a recommendation to visit this market
- Apartheid Museum – a definite must go. Reserve yourself enough time for it, at least 1/2 day
- Hector Pieterson Museum – A Memorial to the Soweto Uprisings
What impression did Nelson Mandela, the Apartheid and South Africa leave on you?