Johannesburg, South Africa
Paid a visit to the township of Soweto. It’s an area I’ve had an interest in since I went to see the Soweto Gospel Choir in Sydney back in 2004. It was interesting to me that there even in Soweto there is considerable disparity between rich and poor. Went through the exclusive part of Soweto, here houses cost around half a million rand and are owned by politicians, doctors, lawyers, football players, musicians.
Then visited a poor area, here there 40% of people are HIV positive and there is no electricity and 1 toilet for 20 people. Which is apparently a vast improvement on the one toilet they shared with an entire street – ie 400 people only about five years ago.
Also visited three museums today, Nelson Mandela’s House, Hector Pieter’s Memorial and the Apartheid Museum. All three come highly recommended and were evocative to say the least. At the apartheid museum, you are branded either “White” or “non white” by your ticket and you must walk through the corresponding entrance gate. If there is something that stuck out to me, it was a section of the museum that talked about white supporters for apartheid coming from a range of backgrounds including doctors, lawyers, and teachers. It’s easy to think that people who are uneducated would have been supporters, and I’m sure they were, but supporters came from all walks of life. I find that quite scary to be honest. These guys were presumably good people, who were either led to believe something that is really, really wrong was right, or that something that was really wrong could benefit them and their families; perhaps these guys saw apartheid as a way to get a bit ahead. Either way the majority ended up going with this abhorrent policy of segregation, where mixed marriages were made illegal, everyone was classed by race, and where places such as beaches, shops, buses, schools were made black or white only. Black Africans were also driven from the cities and into townships.
Anyways, so what I’m saying is, these normal people, with university degrees and many in caring type professions, who presumably loved Biltong but their children and spouses even more ended up thinking that segregating blacks and whites and in doing so, stripping black people of pretty much all of of their freedoms was okay. The combination of social constructs, greed, power and ignorance can be a frighteningly powerful and dangerous force eh.