Monday, February 9, 2009


This weekend we went to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. It was quite an eye-opening experience. I never knew what "Apartheid" was or meant until now. Lame I know. So let me educate you (unless you’re smarter than me and already know all of this):
Apartheid means separateness in Afrikaans. It was a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government of South Africa from 1948 and 1994…. 1994!!! Can you believe that? That was only 15 years ago! I was 10 years old when this was still going on.

Apartheid classified inhabitants and visitors into racial groups: black, white, colored, and Indian/Asian. You’d think that placement in these groups would be based on RACE right? NO. Officials would administer TESTS to determine if someone should be categorized either Colored, Black, or White. Different members of the same family found themselves in different race groups! Unbelievable. The museum said that sometimes people would be able to change racial groups, either up or down. What?!
South African blacks (and coloreds) were stripped of their citizenship and were not able to vote. They were forced to carry their passports with them at all times and if they were found without it—jail. The government segregated their education, medical care, and other public services, and provided black people with services greatly inferior to those of whites. The education system practiced in 'black schools' was designed to prepare blacks for lives as a laboring class.
Blacks and coloreds were forced to live in separate townships, like Soweto (one of the most famous and it’s 20 minutes away, we went there our first weekend and I think we’re going to do the Soweto tour this weekend). They were not allowed to leave! Soweto was such a dump. They lived in pure poverty there.

This was amazing. The huge yellow part is the land that whites occupied and the colored places are where different colored and black groups were sent. The red arrows showed where they were forced to move from. The little pie charts in the left showed racial population: about 80% blacks in South Africa vs. 20% White/other and then it was flip-flopped for land ownership: Whites owned 80+% of all land because blacks weren't allowed to. Doesn't make any sense. It's AFRICA! Blacks should own AFRICA!

There were lots of protests and riots, which the government responded to with police brutality, detentions without trial, torture, censorship, and the banning of any political organization. The video at the end showing footage of the riots and police brutality was the hardest part of the museum.

This represented how many people (nearly 200) who were hung because of active behavior against apartheid, the most recent being 1989:
There was a separate section of the museum dedicated to Mr. Nelson Mandela who was the first president of South Africa to be elected in a fully democratic election, serving in the office from 1994–1999. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist. Go Mandela! The South African courts convicted him on charges of sabotage, as well as other crimes committed against apartheid. Mandela served 27 years in prison. He was released 19 years ago on Feb 11th. Following his release, he helped end apartheid. Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He is still alive today!
The effects of apartheid still shape South African politics and society today. No wonder there is so much crime here! Blacks weren’t able to receive a good education and in a lot of cases, weren’t even allowed to work! Things are looking up for South Africa though! What an amazing country with SO much to offer.
"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" -- Nelson Mandela

I have some new job prospects...I'm really hoping 2 of them work out....I'll write more as soon as they do! I got a massage today. That was awesome. And needed. It's hard sleeping on a new bed! And I get really tired watching the maid clean or house...

So! We've been to 3 different wards so far and each one of them has told us we belong to a different ward....finally, we found out last week that we are for sure in the Johannesburg 1st ward, which is an ALL black ward and it's next to the worst part of all of South Africa. But we were both really excited to try it out! I don't know why but I just had this really excited good feeling about going there. Ben was glad:) cause of course he did too. It was so fun! And we felt totally safe driving there. The security around the churches and parking lots are really high. You have to have a code to get in! We are the only whites besides the missionaries and everyone was so cool! They were welcoming and wanted us to stay and they're so knowledgeable about the gospel! It's amazing! I played the piano in relief society because they've never had anyone that could play! They were so excited! And tons of little black kids were coming up and talking to me and babies were smiling really big at me....I want one!

I love Africa! I'm so happy we're here. There really is something about this country that grabs your heart and doesn't let go.


paige and jord said...

very interesting.. but so sad! good luck with the job opps-

Bodacious Barlows said...

WOW! I knew some of that but definitely not all of it. What an interesting story.

erin said...

hi camille! thanks for the comment. awesome that you guys are in south africa! and the apartheid museum is incredible, isn't it? now go to capetown and robben island and visit nelson mandela's prison cell... it will mean more to you now that you've seen the museum.

so are you living in sandton? are you enjoying it so far? does the power go out like crazy? :) shoot me an email sometime!

Unknown said...

That is so great about your ward...way cool! Also, I had NO IDEA about Apartheid. That really is insane. I can't believe have never heard of it is so sad.

The Hills... said...

I learned about this on our trip. Shocking that it happened so recently...kind of like Cambodia. Anyways, I'm so glad that you like it there! What an amazing experience!

Andrew Cardon said...

That sounds like a really good museum. I remember learning about apartheid - it is crazy that it was so recent! Nelson Mandela is a really cool historical person he did a lot of things after he became the president of South Africa too. The museum reminds me a lot of the Holocaust museum here in DC. Sad and moving but amazing to learn about.