Wednesday, March 4, 2015


So yeah – Peter brought Kevin the bag with the passport, and we were off to Johannesburg. We arrived past 11 pm and let the nice lady inside Google Maps on Kevin’s phone direct us to our hotel near the airport. The next day, we did this:






Looking at the signs above started tears streaming down my face.





1985. Nineteen Eighty Five. The year I graduated high school, the year I started college. Jesus.

After this, we entered a part of the museum where photography was forbidden. There was a side exhibition devoted to Mandela. All in all, we were in there for 4 hours and change, which is two to three times my normal stamina period for museums, no matter how interesting. (My brain gets full easily. That either means I’m super smart – look at all those neurons connecting! – or uh, less so.)

The displays went into a LOT of fascinating detail over ...

  • what it was like under apartheid (in one section, using the text and photographs of a book authored by a  a black? colored? guy who ventured at great personal peril all throughout society in the... 50’s? I’ll have to ask Kevin, he’ll know the story). How awful white ladies were to their domestic staff stood out for me – I could have spent hours reading all the displays about different spheres/aspects of society, but that was the one I settled on.
  • the conditions that led to apartheid being formally launched after the Nationalist Party came to power in ‘48;
  • what Johannesburg was like when gold was discovered in the late 19th century, and people of all colors and creeds from all over the world poured into the area  – causing all kindsa awesome cultural and artistic stuff that freaked the white/corporate powers-that-be the f**** out, inducing the destruction of whole neighborhoods – some day I’d like to learn more about that. 
  • all these major events – Sharpeville, the Soweto uprising...a huge wall of marble carved with the names of dozens upon dozens of laws passed to refine apartheid, indicating, ironically, just how hard the government had to squeeze down on people to implement their twisted vision
  • this same room featured a huge spool of barbed wire tangled on the display floor – plenty of film footage of various demonstrations and riots show this stuff used as a crowd control tactic. ugh.
  • um...what else...oh, there were three solitary confinement cells just...sitting there, in a section devoted to the many, many people who died in protective custody cause oops, “they tripped”, or “they hanged themselves”. That was another spot where I found myself leaking eye fluid.
  • and then a long series of sections describing how the ANC (African National Congress) and the PAC (Pan-African Congress) and other previously-outlawed groups were unbanned, and all the complex negotiations that led to the regime change and the new constitution, which kicks ass.

It was terrific...thought-provoking...heart-provoking.

When we stumbled out at the end we were happy to find a café, where we inhaled lunch. After that we headed out on the road, pointed south, toward Lesotho: the subject of the next post.

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