Last stop Johannesburg

Last stop Johannesburg


Hard though it was to leave Kapama, it was time.  We had enjoyed a wonderful couple of days and were now thinking of home and looking forward to sleeping in our own bed again.


We cleared security at Hoedspruit airport and took off over the park in an Out of Africa moment.  Sadly, the young and handsome Robert Redford was nowhere to be seen, but my hero of almost 38 years was sitting by my side as always. What more could I wish for?


We checked into our city centre hotel mid afternoon and wondered how we might spend our time here.


The hotel is attached to a mall, but did we want to spend the rest of our time shopping?  Not really.


We pottered around a while. had a bite to eat in a restaurant in the adjacent Nelson Mandela Square and decided to investigate Nedra's suggestion of a visit to the Apartheid Museum.  i'm sad to say the concierge in our hotel was far from helpful.  We heard warnings about our safety and security, were told that taxis and Uber cars can be tricky and he didn't recommend using either.  At this point, he tried to sell us a guided coach tour to Soweto - a suburb of Johannesburg and not far away, but not something we wanted to do.  Eventually, my hero took the decision to organise a car and driver to take us to the museum.  It was a considerable distance and we felt that was our best option.


So, this morning, we met Vesco in the lobby and he drove us through a variety of areas of the city to the museum - a not inconsiderable distance away.


Vesco had work to do and had brought his laptop and wifi with him and so he sat in the car park for a couple of hours whilst we looked around.  Having seen where the museum is located, we were glad we'd not taken a taxi - it'd have cost us just as much and this was a far better option.


The architecture and the design of the museum is as brutal as the regime it records.  We bought our tickets and turning mine over, I discovered that I had "non-white" status.  My hero had the good fortune of having "White European" and so we entered by different doors and through a different set of images.


At the end of the corridor reminding me at every opportunity of my lowly status, I was greeted with the prospect of the committee...  My hero, meanwhile had sailed right in without any hindrance.


The first outdoor part of the introduction set the scene: Africa as the "cradle of mankind", another exhibit we'd considered for a focus today.  Here, a series of alcoves began with the first man and the observation that "we are walkers".


Because, you see, we are on a journey...


We progressed through an alcove with signs and symbols - we are thinkers - to the one with some language.  Words and letters, because...


You bet we are!

Once inside the museum, no photographs were allowed.  We began with the current "special exhibit" focusing on Nelson Mandela.  A fascinating story we sort of knew already but with far more detail and personal history.  It came to a finale with the maquette for the sculpture planned outside the "Capture Site Museum" which we'd driven past last week (isn't it funny how these things come full circle?) and since it was outside and not technically "in" the museum, I took a photo.


These barbed metal poles stand in the earth and look nothing, until one stands on the right spot...


when all is revealed.  Very clever, very striking.

We made our way through the, at times, shocking stories within the museum, finding out so much we didn't know.  Some events were more familiar - the Soweto struggles - and some names were familiar - Steve Biko for one.  But really, there was so much to learn here and in exactly the same way as the museums in Selma and Montgomery had told a clear and unbiased story, we felt that this presentation was equally balanced too.  But much of the story was troubling and some aspects we've seen during the last week have given us much food for thought.  This is still work in progress, for sure.


But at least this chapter of the story had a happy ending and I very much liked the sign at the exit gate:


We have much to be thankful for.

No place like it

No place like it

Last drive out

Last drive out