Wednesday, 10 July 2013

My Life as a Wanderlust : The Black, The Grey and The White...

It's almost been three months of stay for me and my husband here in South Africa.
 Before taking a trip down here, there are two things which we searched about the most.

First, of course, the places to visit and secondly, Indian Restaurants ( as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, we are foodies of the greatest nature).

About the first, we haven't been to any of the famous places that one would normally come across while Goggling "South Africa", but I managed to go to the one place that I was hell bent on and which really shook us, it instilled a feeling in us about the place where we are living and the legacy it carried for all of us.

The place I am talking about is the Apartheid Museum. Anybody who has been to South Africa or plan to visit South Africa, trust me, your journey would remain half complete if you don't visit this place. I am a huge history buff so wherever I go, I make sure that I read some of the nations' history, otherwise not knowing about the country, about it's people, about the legacy, makes me feel incomplete.

We have all heard of the heinous practice of Apartheid which was taken and practiced as a State Policy here in South Africa and the practice ended only in 1991. A lot of my friends of Facebook, didn't know that Apartheid ended only in 1991, this is extremely recent for people of our age... I mean we were all in school at the time... Anyhow when I had first heard of the place, I made sure, that this was a "must see" on my list.

I am giving below the link of the Museum's site, if anyone is interested in finding out more, and really the more you know, the more will you be surprised.

http://www.apartheidmuseum.org/

The first thing that strikes you is that the tickets that are given randomly distinguish people into Whites and Non-Whites... no there is nothing racial about it, me and my husband are both Asian, we got two tickets, one labelled "White" (Blanke in Afrikaans) and "Non-White" ( Nie-Blanke) and then we had to go through separate doors titled the same, into a tunnel kind of exhibition... this act in itself strikes you as extremely discriminating... it did to me, but that's exactly what used to happen down here. Then there is a passageway and an exhibition showing us enlarged posters of the "Identity cards" that people carried. The thing that felt strange to me was, besides name,  and gender, there was the "Ethnic" grouping. Also there was a group called "the chameleons" well, surprising as it may sound, the Apartheid Government termed the Citizens of the country so in 1985. This group of people officially changed their Ethnicity  from either "Indians" to Coloured, Coloureds to Indians, Malays to Coloured and so on...

When we emerge from this horrendous passage, we are re-united with our co-passengers, who had been passing through another similar tunnel... We emerged into an open courtyard where the Johannesburg sun was shinning down... it felt like a breadth of fresh air... the sensation after passing through a tunnel, the exhibits of which keep reminding you of your Ethnicity, to say the least, is not at all pleasant. I just imagined, what might have been the situation for this country's citizens who had to carry those evil cards at all times which shrieked out distinction and you could do nothing about it...

There were many, many similar exhibits stating the history of South Africa. The settlement of the Dutch colonists on the western capes of the country, who first trekked up the Highvelds into the interior to set up cities such as Johannesburg and Pretoria, how the English came later and the beginning of the Apartheid ideology which started as an innocent idea to preserve the culture, tradition and the history of the first "Afrikaan" people and then turned into an heinous practice and later into a hated state policy.

As one passes through the museum, one is time and again reminded of the differences that exist among us, and also reminds us, that it is these differences which unites us rather than divide us... Sure we are different, each and every individual is different, but it is this, that makes us "humans" , if we were all same, we would rather have been machines...

At the end of all the exhibitions, there is a place, a kind of forest with a huge man-made lake, the clear waters of the lake reflect back at you and you realize whatever our race may be, whatever our color, whatever our language may be, and whatever our religion, we still are "human beings" and that's the only thing that's worthy about us.

A visit to this place actually makes you evaluate your humanity. It drills into you that no matter how bad the conditions may be, there can still be hope for better...



No comments: