The first stop for the day was at the Apartheid Museum. While walking through the museum there were lots of pictures and memorabilia with captions explaining what they were. Many of these we had learned about in class such as Bantu Education, the Treason Trial, the Sharpeville Massacre, the Rivonia Trial, the campaign to “Free Mandela,” etc. It was really a good way to make the visual connections between all of the historical events that lead up to the end of Apartheid and tie them all together.
There were a few things that really caught my attention. In the exhibit on “Life under Apartheid in the 1960’s,” there was a picture of a mother holding her very malnourished looking child. Next to the picture there were smaller images of hospitals and an exert of the health care situation at that time period. Some of the information in the article explaining the pictures really frustrated me.
In my nursing classes some of the things that are most stressed are infection prevention/control and patient identification. In one of the captions of the picture of a pediatric unit there were children lined up along the wall on the floor and two infants per crib. The problem with this was that with such close proximity and direct contact it made it easier for transmission of diseases. The patients were also identified by a piece of adhesive tape with their name on the forehead. The problem with this is that the tape could easily fall off of patients posing problems when providing care or giving medication. Unfortunately, the means to care for these patients properly were most likely not available at the time or were available but because of the apartheid system were not granted to colored patients.
The next exhibit that I was at was a room with nooses hanging from the ceiling and a list of prisoner names, ages, and causes of deaths. At first glance everything seemed to be normal causes of death, but when I really looked at them I realized that most of them seemed suspicious and again frustrated me. A lot of them were categorized as suicides or “accidents” such as falling from windows or slipping in the shower. One specific cause of death was “natural cause: brain hemorrhage.” Most often brain hemorrhages occur because of some sort of trauma. My initial thought based off of the things that we learned about in class and through the rest of the museum was that the “natural causes” of this brain hemorrhage was in fact the police brutality that led to many of these other “accidents.” One of the prisoners that was listed was Steven Biko, which we learned about in class, about how he had been beaten by the police and left to die before medical attention was given. The police tried to cover it up as a so-called natural death, but it had leaked out that they had beaten him. This was the case for many of these prisoners, which is upsetting because it is just another example of the lack of respect the government showed towards the colored people and their supporters in their fight for freedom.
At the entrance to the museum there were row after row of different colored sticks that we weren’t sure of the meaning. When we got to a certain exhibit in the museum there was a wall of quotes from Nelson Mandela. Each colored stick represented some of his quotes and each person chose their favorite quote and placed the representing stick in the stick holders. I really found this aspect to be very meaningful to our experience. I found each of the quotes inspirational, which made it very difficult to chose just one, but I ended up placing two sticks, one red, and one blue.
The red quote struck me as inspirational because Mandela himself was a perfect example of a man who conquers his fear. He was not afraid to “rebel” and stand up to the fear (white man and the apartheid system) and go after what he wanted (freedom). The rest of the people who joined Mandela in this fight showed immense amounts of courage. This courage to face the feared apartheid system is what got them where they wanted to be.
The blue quote, again, I liked because it was just another quote which Mandela was the perfect example. He showed respect for all people of South Africa despite the respect they may or may not have showed him. When apartheid finally ended and he became the President, he made sure to not flip the roles of the whites and the blacks but to attempt to integrate the cultures by building equality and respect between the two.
We spent a lot of time in the Apartheid Museum and were limited in time for our next stop at the Liliesleaf Farm. In the short time we were there I was able to make connections to the classroom content and even build onto it. This farm was where Mandela along with the other military faction of the ANC members took refuge and held secret meetings. The government caught on and the members were arrested and later held on trial, which is known as the Rivonia Trials, 1963. It was really neat to stand in the buildings where such historical events took place. If it was not for the use of this farm, much of their progress on the anti-apartheid support would not have happened.