“Today we went to visit the Apartheid Museum. Impressive.
I had the fortune to walk around the corridors of the museum with Adriaan, a Dutch MBA student that is travelling with me, former tourist guide. A living book of history!
Summarizing the recent history of South Africa is not easy. Racial tensions were pretty strong already at the end of the XIX century, but was only in 1948 that Apartheid became law. During the years before 1994 (when Mandela became president with ANC party) the white minority of the South African population (less than 10%) controlled the economic and political life of the country. The black majority of the population couldn’t combat the oppression, as many different ethnicity didn’t allow the indigenous population to group together in a single reactionary force.
1976 has been the turning point of the racial segregation in South Africa. During a pacific student manifestation in Soweto, a poor suburb of Johannesburg, 2 children got killed by the police. This was the beginning of the end of Apartheid. A violent upraising exploded in Soweto and many people started fighting against the police, claiming the liberation of Nelson Mandela. Almost 20 years of violent repressions and political negotiation brought to historic decision to give to the country the first universal democratic election (1994) that would bring Mandela to power.
To come back to my visit today, after the Apartheid Museum we went to have lunch to Soweto, the suburb where the famous turmoil took place. The area is still very poor, and to be honest, not really safe if you don’t get around with a local. We had lunch at place called “The Place”, a bar/restaurant run by an energetic woman. Gladys, the owner, is a supporter of the South African national soccer team and had followed the team around the world in the past 4 World Cups. She cooked for us some super tasty African dish, which I don’t remember the name ;)
When I started writing this post I wanted to face a completely different topic.. but I didn’t find the right way to talk about it. In a few words, I have the strong (negative) feeling that racism is still incredibly strong down here. Not easy to forget the hard times of the Apartheid. It’ll take generations.”
– Raffaele, Emzingo Fellow – June 2011, BPESA project