05 August 2007

Red Location

Today’s jaunt was to show Sue the flamingos at Swartkops. Yes, we saw plenty them but they were far away and the pictures I took show more of the slums in the background than the birds. On the way home our trip took an unexpected turn, as we are inclined to take to roads that we have not used before.

“I have never been up this road”, Sue said on our way home. With that I made a quick right turn into New Brighton. We were driving into the area we were photographing from the salt pans. A few hundred metres forward we saw the sign pointing to the Red Location Museum. Another turn to the right and we were on our way to a museum we have wanted to visit for some time.

The Red Location was established in 1905, when the black residents of the Strangers Location and at
Coopers Kloof (Albany Road) were moved from Port Elizabeth. These areas were in the vicinity of where we now live,

These removals were orchestrated by the British Colonial government of the time. The National Party, the architect of apartheid policies, was only formed in 1914 and came into power in 1948 after which it was responsible for untold misery, injustices and crimes against humanity.

The name of the Red Location comes from the corrugated iron barracks, brought down here from a defunct concentration camp at Uitenhage and the Imperial Yeomanry Hospital at de Aar; that had been used in the South African War of 1899-1902. In time, these sheds eventually rusted and turned deep red.

Some of the original houses at the Red Location

The Red Location Museum focuses on institutionalized racism and the anti-apartheid movement. It is an awesome museum with some very graphic displays.

The main hall with columns featuring the heroes of the struggle

The tribute to Vuyisile Mini, an ANC activist and the black and white photographs commemorating the Langa Massacre in 1985 are a chilling reminder of how a nation can become divided through unjust policies and beliefs and generate so much hatred

Tribute to Vuyisile Mini who was executed in 1964. Against the walls are replicas of inquest
filing boxes with the names of many who died violent deaths, where no blame was attributed.

What is striking about the museum is that it was developed in the midst of the slum area. The old and the new mingling together.

New housing developed along side the museum.

I was brought up as a child of apartheid, with a racist father. As a result I was a bigoted little racist at an early age, but as a young adult started to question those values. In the 1980’s my wife and I were members of the old Progressive Party and took our stand against the system. However, when we left the museum I could not shake the feeling that there was more that I could have done at the time. My stand then was from the position of privilege and I was largely sheltered from the reality what was happening in the townships.

Shacks alonside the Museum.

Even now, 14 years after our first democratic elections living conditions for some have not changed.

Yes, this is someone's home near the museum.


Grant said...

Hi there
Found your page whilst searching for clues for this years Sunday Times Finders Keepers competition clues.
I was also a well bred and conditioned little racist bugger. Now I question how Apartheid in the form of BEE will help solve the inequality that seems to be growing.

Max-e said...

Hi Grant
Thanks for stopping by. I am opposed to any form of racism, particularly if it is state sponsored. One needs just look around the world today to see how rife it still is and what the consequences are.
I must admit that I was very anti the BEE legislation when when it first came out, but have been working very closely with its implementation at a client of mine and can see the plus side to it, albeit far from perfect.
What you also need to bear in mind is that fact that this is not compulsory legislation, it is purely voluntary. However, if you want to do business with the state then not being compliant would be a problem.
I would not go so far as to equate it with apartheid, which was an iniquitous, insidious and evil system - just cast your mind back.
The BEE legislation is to my mind much fairer than the free for all that existed beforehand.