The Apartheid Museum was heavy as expected. What I didn't expect was there to be so many similarities between the apartheid struggle and the US Civil Rights struggle. For whatever reason I knew they were similar yet different, but after a couple of hours being given a direct history lesson I see that is was the same monster. So many atrocities that were committed here also occurred at home. Children murdered by police, people beaten and jailed for speaking out against a segregation system, peaceful protestors being met with brutal deadly force. It was an ugly violent déjà vu. White supremacy enforced by laws to create an inferior laboring class of people who were deemed non-human. It's was disgusting. Awe-strikingly disgusting, if I were able to think of another stronger word it would be that as well. The main difference I see though, in comparison of both countries history is the South Africa seems to be having a better outcome. Their government acknowledged the wrong past and have made measures to reconcile, apologize, and many ways to right the wrongs of the past. The US however has never done this. The movent from slavery to full rights for African-Americans during reconstruction, then the landslide backward to our own apartheid system( that just used the name Jim Crow as an alias) was never acknowledged as wrong, our leaders were murdered, there has never been an apology and never a discussion on reparations or how we can try to undo the damage done to victims of vicious governent enforced racism. Just the thought of all this, if you can tell, pretty much pissed me off. The oppressor mentality is real and ruthless, they rather stay down with you in a choke hold than to improve life for all through justice and equality. This sick mentality that was spread through so many places on earth is frustratingly impossible to understand because it is ignorant and irrational at its core.
After the museum our tour guide took us to Soweto. Soweto is a city of 3.5 millions residents and stands for SOuthWEstern TOwnship. Townships were government controlled ghettos that blacks were forced to live in. Their positioning in townships allowed black to be close enough to whites (and the gold mines) to get to them daily to serve them but also trapped them in so that their every movement was controlled. Up until the early 90s the residents of Soweto weren't allowed to leave their homes after 8pm, people were not allowed to walk or congregate in a groups larger than 2 people, the people forced to live there were often separated from their family members. This is all too familiar right?! Before going to Soweto I was sure that we would encounter a long stretching shanty town trampled with crime and poverty. Boy was I wrong. Soweto has 3 sections divided by class (not race). The wealthy; who lived in beautiful homes that lacked the intense security that you find in other parts of Johannesburg. Most have tall walls around them but not with the electric spiraled barbed-wire that can be found on top of most house walls. This was the most shocking part if the Township for me. My guide, Eric, informed me that the wealthy area was built in about '97 after the first democratic election was held. What is now the middle class section, the next class of Soweto residents used to be the wealthy section during the Apartheid area which lasted from 1948-1991. During that time however, blacks were not allowed to own homes and they could only rent. Once the ANC (Nelson Mandela political party, The African National Congress) was in power residents had opportunity to purchases their homes for an extremely low price. Eric says that the people there love their homes and they rarely sell, hoping to pass it down to following generations. The third section is the shanty towns. The shanty town shacks were built by the Apartheid government like housing barracks to separate families. According to Eric the shanty town I saw today was just a fraction of what it used to be.
During our time in Soweto we also drove past Desmond TuTu's home, Mandela's home from right before he was released from jail, we saw Winnie Mandela's home, and the area were the 1978 student protest resulted in a police led massacre on peaceful protesters. We then went to the Hector Pieterson museum. He was 13 years old at the time when he a was shot and killed by the police during an unarmed peaceful protest.
Eric was an awesome guide and was able to answer all of my questions. Once apartheid ended did many whites leave South Africa? Yes, a good number of then fled to Canada and Australia. What happened to the Apartheid supporting political party? The party was dismantled. The ones who saw the errors of their ways joined the ANC (the Africa Natonal Congress) Mandela's party and they immediately began working to try to right wrongs of the past. Those who were unbudged apartheid supporters joined the other existing white political parties. Do white people live in Soweto? Yes, five of them. They are in relationships with black residents who are from Soweto. I'm telling you this guy was the best. On the way home we stopped by the hand craft market near the Hector Pieterson museum. I bought so goodies for my peep that I'll have to surprise them with at home. I also bought myself a beaded Zulu bracelet. Before ending our tour we bought a pizza for dinner and headed home. Tomorrow is a big day and we will have to get up at 5am and hit the road for our surprise Chtistmas present. Man I hope we have perfect warm, sunny weather, and I look forward to see the country outside of Jozi.