Filed under: church, history, Johannesburg, Politics, South Africa, travel | Tags: Apartheid, Johannesburg, museum, Nelson Mandela, South Africa, travel
Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31, 2011. To get oriented to the country we took a tour of the Johannesburg area the day after we landed. Our stops included the Mandela house and the Apartheid Museum.
The Mandela house.
Former South African President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and his family lived at 8115 Orlando West, Soweto from 1946 into the 1990’s. Although technically his home address, much of this time period Nelson Mandela was in a South African jail.
The Mandela House, on the corner of Vilakazi and Ngakane Streets, Soweto, was built in 1945, part of a Johannesburg City project for new houses in Orlando. Nelson Mandela moved here in 1946 with his first wife, Evelyn Ntoko Mase, They divorced in 1957, and from 1958 he was joined in the house by his second wife, Nomzamo Winifred Madikizela (Winnie).
He was to spend little time here in the ensuing years, as his role in struggle activities became all-consuming and he was forced underground (1961), living a life on the run until his arrest and imprisonment in 1962.
Those years that Winnie was living here were years of terror. They never knew when police cars would screech to a stop outside their door and spray the house with bullets. At one time a cement wall was built to protect the children’s play area and the kitchen from those bullets.
Nelson Mandela returned here for a brief 11 days after his release from Robben Island in 1990, before moving to his present house in Houghton. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, herself imprisoned several times, lived in the house with her daughters while Nelson Mandela was in jail, until her own exile to Brandfort in 1977, where she remained under house arrest until 1986. The family continued to occupy the house until 1996, when the Mandelas divorced.
Nelson was given the name Rolihlahla by his father. It means trouble-maker. Nelson was not a trouble maker in his youth. But the struggle to be free from the oppression of Apartheid turned him into one for the white government.
‘The house itself is identical to hundreds of others built on postage-stamp-size plots on dirt roads. It had the same standard tin roof, the same cement floor, a narrow kitchen, a small front yard and a bucket toilet at the back. Although there were street lamps outside, the homes were not yet electrified. The bedroom was so small that a double bed took up almost the entire floor space.’
The Apartheid Museum
It starts with your ticket. Our group was randomly divided into black and white sections and we entered the museum through the assigned doors. Large identity cards hang in the hall and an explanation of how people were judged to be of which race, and how your race could be at times changed on a whim are in this area.
As you move on the groups are brought together to review the history of South Africa in the images found on rock walls and in caves.
As you move on you come to a vista of Johannesburg, complete with the still standing hoists of the gold mines.
From here you move inside and follow the lives of those who shaped the area and the Apartheid system, as well as those who brought it down.
Although our day in Johannesburg was not yet done, we went back to the hotel to catch up on some sleep and prepare for our trip south. I hope you continue to follow my journey in South Africa.
Filed under: Johannesburg, school, South Africa, travel | Tags: children, Johhanesburg, South Africa
Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31. To get oriented to the country we took a tour of the Johannesburg area the day after we landed. One of our stops was Kliptown.
Kliptown is built near the Klip river. It is a collection of shacks made from whatever building materials are available. The dirt streets double as the sewer. A few water taps and the occasionally illegally taped power line are all the services they have. Much of the area is subject to flooding in high water times, so it is not the most desirable place to live. Port-a-potties are the local attempt at sanitation, but most are locked so that only the family that owns them can use it. Chickens, goats and cows freely roam the area without a fence or owner in sight. Many would call it a slum, but the people seem well dressed and happy, so why do they live there.
The reason is that it is the cheapest place to live and still get on the bus to the downtown jobs.
We were greeted at the Kliptown Youth Center with a round of the local sorghum beer in the traditional calabash,
a row of miners boots near the garden,
and young people doing traditional dances. The Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) is attempting to provide an education for the youngsters of the area to provide them a way out of Kliptown. The effort is working, but jobs of any kind are hard to come by in South Africa. Only 25% of the population is registered as working, that means they pay taxes. Many work off the books or make do reselling produce of one variety or another.
Success in the future is vitally important to these young people who live and work in Kliptown. There is a great desire to be more than they are now in South Africa. It is the hope of KYP to provide the tools so that the youth of Kliptown can be successful tomorrow.
Next stop, the Mandella house and the Apartheid Museum.