Every week, Perdeby sends their journalists to experience something different and exciting. This week, Alycia Hibbert visited the Apartheid Museum in honour of freedom month.
The Apartheid Museum is something I’ve always wanted to experience, and when I got an opportunity not only to get to view the Museum, but write about that experience as well, I was enthusiastic.
I set off on Saturday morning and ventured across town, getting to the Museum just as it opened. My best friend and I were able to secure student discounts without student cards, which is always a bonus in any adventure. Being early also helped us as we took our time, as well as not having to be in queues.
At the door, the issued tickets randomly assign you a race, which you use to enter the museum, with one door for “Whites” and the other for “non-Whites”. So my friend and I were separated at the beginning of the journey. On either side of you as you enter the turnstile are metal fences lined with passbooks and identification documents. The faces of the people who lived and breathed the struggle look directly at you. Then you go outside where there are glass mirrors that depict the significant people from historical to modern day South Africa.
The amazing thing about the museum is that it is more than just the history of apartheid– it is the history of South Africa. It takes you back to different original African nationalities, then colonisation, the gold rush, and finally, apartheid itself.
At one point you will pass a gallery of hanging ropes. I became emotional at this point in the Museum. There is a list of names and “supposed” deaths of those who lost their lives in prison. You see the names of those who died when they should not have, with cruelty in an unjust system. It is haunting, but justly so.
The exhibition dedicated to Nelson Mandela was just breath-taking and insightful. It was incredible to watch his very first TV interview and listen to his famous “I am prepared to die” speech. The whole exhibition is a remarkable honour and testimony to an extraordinary man and hero in South Africa’s history. It features some of the best conceptional works I’ve ever seen.
Every single artwork in the museum is so beautifully and conceptionally done. The whole collection can be overwhelming, as there is so much to take in. All the films, speakers, pathways and exhibitions can be disorientating, but everything you read, and every film, art piece, and speech is worth the moment. Every single piece invokes emotion, and was created with meaning, purpose and intent.
It is an experience I recommend, and not being rushed while at it. It will leave you feeling dazed and raw, but the Apartheid Exhibition, along with the tribute to Mandela, is an experience that is both haunting and beautiful.
For more information, you can visit their website at www.apartheidmuseum.org.