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Museum Africa, South Africa - 4th September 2008

By: MrsC

Well here we are in the car again! Fi and Vicki decided to take us to Museum Africa so see what it was all about...


Wow! It is pretty huge in here, three open plan floors... the building used to be a fruit and vegetable market in the Old Days (you know, when Fi was a kid!)

Well we found some old suit cases, guess we are going on a journey...


The Museum has all sorts of interesting thinks about South Africa on display, like clothing from the REALLY old days (ie. even BEFORE Fi!) like this...


Here is what it says about that display:


There is a huge hall dedicated to the 'Treason trial' that was held in the 1960s at the height of Apartheid. There are pictures of all the accused. One of the most famous:

Nelson Mandela


This is what he said about it in his book...



Each of the accused has a little red book under their photo that people can write comments in... Mandela's is handled so much that it is falling apart... it is filled with words of love and admiration.


There was a lot more to that section but it was all very political so I won't bore you with it.

Next up: life in Johannesburg, before it was Johannesburg...


This is a replica of an Iron Age Tswana house, impressive...but hey they were smart enough to smelt iron (iron melts at 1100įC / 2012įF) over half a century ago!


This is what the smelt looked like, it was made from mud. It was quite a mission to melt the iron and required the efforts of at least ten people just to make one spear blade. It was always done outside the village because it was considered spiritual and mystical.


From the Iron Age to the Gold age! Johannesburg is a gold mining town, still to this day and the mines go down several kilometres/miles.

The managers lived in fancy big houses and ruled with an iron fist. (we are talking late 1800ís to early 1900ís)


The mine workers lived like this...



Pretty shocking, hmmm? They worked long hours in terrible conditions, way underground, then came up and lived in quarters that were almost as cramped as the mines. They were not allowed to leave the property without a 'pass'. Because the miners came from so many different tribes and even other countries, and the bosses all spoke English or Afrikaans - they had to develop a new language called Funigalore so they could understand each other. It is still spoken in the mines today.

Also around this time, shanty towns were developing. One of these was called Sofiatown - it was the birthplace of modern South African music. Sofiatown was raised to the ground; all of the people who lived there were forcefully evicted, to make way for new developments.


Here we are in a replica of a Sofiatown Shebeen (house where alcohol is sold illegally)



This is the back room - see how it is lined with cardboard? This is still how it is done today, I'll show you in a bit...


This is what the outside would have looked like...


Then we moved on to a section which shows you how the shacks look today. THIS is how MILLIONS of people live in this country; often there is no running water or electricity.

The shack is built from 'found' items, usually corrugated sheet metal. Sometimes it is plastered with mud or old boards. It is then lined with cardboard from packaging boxes for insulation. Sometimes this is decorated with 'wallpaper' - old newspaper, adverts, sheets of uncut food canning labels... Cooking is done on a primus stove (fuelled by paraffin). These shacks are TINY and Fi felt very claustrophobic in them. Often you will find the whole place crowded with people living in there...






The good news is that government is (very slowly) building houses for these people, with running water, electricity and other amenities. There is a huge, huge housing project just up the road from Fi called Cosmo City - proof that it is happening.

Now I am sure you have heard of Ghandi (kind of the Nelson Mandela of his day...)


Well he lived in Johannesburg for a while, and the terrible suffering he witnessed and suffered from led him to start a movement for peace, called Satyagraha, which had a massive influence in India, the USA (with the African American Civil Rights movement) and locally.


There were a lot of other exhibits but we were running out of time as it was a long journey back to fetch children from school. Also housed in the museum, is another museum! Called the BenSusan Museum of photography - Fi said that was for another day, but she did let us have a photo taken...


Here we all are signing the visitorís book...



* Posted Sep 9, 2008, 10:15 pm [Quote] Go to the top of the page


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