Tag Archives: apartheid

Getting Involved at the Human Rights Museum

 

me and nelson mandelaOne of the things I really liked about the Nelson Mandela display at the Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg is the way it provides the visitor with a variety of experiences to draw you into the story of the fight to end apartheid in South Africa.

south africa park benchYou can sit on a park bench clearly labeled For Europeans Only and read information about what it was like for a black woman to work as a domestic servant or a black man to be a miner in Johannesburg. Photos show how they were given unsanitary cramped living quarters and made to wear an identification bracelet with a number assigned by their employer.

mandela cellYou can stand in a cell like the one where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for twenty- seven years. As silhouettes of Nelson appear on the walls you almost feel like you are with him on Robben Island where he was imprisoned because of his activism and leadership in the anti-apartheid movement.

interview room mandela exhibitYou can sit on chairs in a secret hideout and watch Nelson Mandela do a television interview with a British journalist at 2:00 am in 1961. nelson mandela interviewMandela had gone underground after been convicted of treason for his peaceful protests against apartheid.

apartheid postersYou can make a poster.  A display features a whole variety of posters that helped to advance the ideals of the anti-apartheid movement. posterOn an interactive board you can choose from many different options to create a background, wording and illustrations and create an anti-apartheid poster of your very own. If you take a photo you could even print up your poster at home.

mailbox mandela exhibitYou can write a letter.  As you leave the display you watch young South Africans share their hopes and dreams for the future of their country.  After being inspired by what Nelson Mandela did to bring about change in his community you have the opportunity to write a letter saying what you will do to change your community for the better. Letter writing paper, felt markers and even colorful envelopes are available and once you have written your message you can either keep it or ‘mail’ it to the world in the mail slot provided.

letterThe Nelson Mandela exhibit is informative and thought-provoking and provides opportunity for hands on involvement.  Since experiencing the exhibit I’ve been thinking a lot about how the South African colonizers knew ending apartheid would also end their comfortable and successful way of life. Their story reminds us that people are always susceptible to following their basest instincts of self-survival and self- promotion even if that damages others and is not fair or ethical.  Sadly it is still a timely message in our present day.

Other posts……..

Images of Apartheid

An Inspiration

Not the Harlem I Expected

 

 

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Images of Apartheid

I went to the Humans Rights Museum to see the new Nelson Mandela exhibit.  There are images there you won’t easily forget. This wall of signs illustrated how whites and blacks were segregated in everyday life in South Africa. This public notice about relationships between whites and non-whites reminded me of Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime.  Noah grew up in South Africa. He and his black mother had to walk on the opposite side of the street from his white father when their family was going somewhere so no would suspect his parents had a relationship with one another. This armoured truck was used by the South African government in the 1980s to stop apartheid protesters.These are the coffins for some of the victims of the Sharpville Massacre. In March of 1960 thousands of people protesting apartheid practices went to a police station in Sharpville, South Africa. The police fired into the crowd killing 69 people and injuring nearly 300 more including some thirty children. Today March 21 is a public holiday in South Africa to commemorate this massacre. 

I felt so proud of Canada as I watched this video.  Stephen Lewis, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations in 1988 describes a ground breaking speech Brian Mulroney, Canada’s prime minister made to the United Nations that year. Mulroney declared that his country would impose tough economic sanctions on South Africa unless they changed their apartheid policy.  The United Nations assembly rose to its feet to applaud Mulroney at the end of his speech. Of course the exhibit tells visitors all about the important role Nelson Mandela played in ending apartheid in South Africa and includes his famous 1962 quote……”I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Other posts………

Born a Crime

Racism Pure and Simple

Bear Witness

 

 

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Filed under History, Winnipeg