Apartheid Museums in Johannesburg, South Africa
Any Johannesburg holiday is inevitably a holiday of important historical learning. South Africa’s history is one of division and inequality, perseverance and eventual unity. The story of this national struggle is everywhere you look in Johannesburg, and it’s a journey all visitors to this fascinating city should embark on.
Step 1: Visit the Apartheid Museum
Johannesburg’s famous Apartheid Museum is a great place to begin your historical education. Through film footage, photographs, documents and artefacts, this museum unashamedly presents even the darkest truths of Apartheid while also celebrating its downfall and looking optimistically into the future.
Step 2: Explore Constitution Hill
With a broad understanding of Apartheid now under your belt, a visit to Constitution Hill is in order. Now home to the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Constitution Hill was once a fort and later a prison, and has played numerous significant roles in the nation’s history. Explore the museum here and learn about not only imprisonment during the Apartheid era but also some important pre-Apartheid historical information.
Step 3: Hector Pieterson Museum
One of Apartheid’s most iconic images is the photograph of a 13-year-old boy, Hector Pieterson, in the arms of 18-year-old Mbuyisa Makhubo, dying after being shot by South African police. The Hector Pieterson Museum is located just two blocks from where the shooting took place. It tells the story of the Soweto Uprising, the series of student-led Apartheid protests in which Pieterson was shot.
Step 4: Take a tour of Liliesleaf Farm
By now you should have a thorough understanding of the beginnings of Apartheid, the inequalities that resulted, and the student uprising that began to weaken it
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. The final piece of the puzzle is the political outfit that eventually dismantled Apartheid, the African National Congress (ANC). A tour to Liliesleaf Farm, about half an hour out of Johannesburg, will take you into one of the ANC’s major bases during the anti-Apartheid movement where important figures like Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu sought shelter.
Step 5: Gain real world perspective in Soweto
To experience first-hand the divide Apartheid created in society as well as some of the efforts currently in place to break down that divide, travel to Johannesburg and take a tour of the South Western Townships, better known as Soweto. Here you’ll see the vast inequalities that still exist today, but also some important steps in the right direction such as new malls, paved roads, street lights and improved housing.