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South African History

In front of the South African flag in the Constitutional Court

During my time in Johannesburg I was also introduced to the recent, turbulent history of South Africa. From the conflict between the Dutch settlers (Afrikaners) and the British to claim, colonize, and settle this part of the world to the struggle brought by Apartheid, there was so much to learn about.

Cottage at Liliesleaf where several folks from the liberation movement were arrested

I visited Liliesleaf, a farm where secret meetings were held by a resistance group against the Apartheid government. Nelson Mandela spent some time at this farm, but was arrested elsewhere before the group at Liliesleaf was discovered. In 1963 there was a raid on the farm and several people were arrested. At that time some of Nelson Mandela’s documents were found which tied him with the group. Many of the people arrested at Liliesleaf, along with Nelson Mandela, were then imprisoned on Robben Island.

Manela's room at Liliesleaf

I also went to the Apartheid Museum to get a sense of what life was like during this period in South Africa. Like segregation in the States, there were different schools, bathrooms, water fountains, everything, for Whites and Non-Whites. With all of the different cultural heritages in South Africa it was not just Africans who were classified as non-white, but also Indians, Asians, and colored peoples. Even the entrance to the museum reflected this segregation (which is the meaning of “apartheid”). It was sad to see, but I was glad to have the opportunity to learn more about this time in South Africa. Today many of the communities are still living with the effects of Apartheid. Even though they have more opportunity now to interact on a daily basis, the different groups of people continue to live within their own communities for the most part.

Entrance to the Apartheid Museum

I was also impressed by the diversity of people who fought against Apartheid in South Africa. People of all cultural backgrounds – African, Indian, Colored, and European – worked together to bring the policies of segregation to an end. Please pray that a new generation of leaders will be raised up in South Africa who can now unite these diverse groups into one South Africa.

The Constitutional Court (with the name written in all 11 official languages)

Finally, I visited the Constitutional Court. This is a very important place as it is this body that upholds the constitution of South Africa. There are still many problems in the South African government and this is one of the few places seen as unbiased and just. The court itself was empty, so we were allowed to go inside and Paul, my guide for the day, even got to sit in one of the chief justice’s chairs. I was glad to visit these places to begin to learn about the recent history in South Africa. It has inspired me to learn more about both South Africa and our own struggles in America. 

Inside the Constitutional Court 

At the feet of Nelson Mandela

Posted October 15, 2012


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