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Enter as ‘White’ or ‘Non-White’ – A Look at the Haunting History of Apartheid in South Africa

by Sandy Salle on April 25, 2013


In the famous words of Nelson Mandela . . .

“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, June 1999

For nearly 20 years now, South Africa has remained Apartheid-free, but the scars of the horrible political legislature and social segregation behind Apartheid is still remembered today at the Johannesburg Apartheid Museum.

Beginning in the early 1900s, the legislature of Apartheid was implemented in order to identify and segregate racial statuses. In affect for nearly a century, Apartheid brought about a tremendous deal of violence through its discriminatory laws. For example, during the mid 1900s (when Apartheid was in full swing) the South African government developed ‘homelands’ in which every black African was assigned one to live in. The purpose of these homelands were to eliminate ‘non-whites’ from areas that were predominately ‘white’ areas.

At the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, visitors from around the world on a trip to South Africa are welcomed to explore the effects that Apartheid had on Africa in the 20th century and how Apartheid has shaped the South Africa we see today.

As you enter the museum, you must purchase your ticket. Once your ticket prints, it randomly classifies you as either ‘white’ or ‘non-white.’ You then continue through the museum based on your classification. This experience helps visitors to understand what it was like for the people of South Africa to enter a public institution.

Below are some photographs, taken by one of our clients who recently visited the Apartheid Museum:

apartheid museum

These are the tickets you receive at the entrance of the Apartheid Museum, which randomly classify you as ‘white’ or ‘non-white’

apartheid museum


apartheid south africa

The ‘Whites Only’ entrance way into the museum

South Africa Apartheid museum

The ‘Non-Whites Only’ entrance to the museum

apartheid museum

Classification Pass Cards on display in the entrance hall

During a tour through the Apartheid Museum, you’ll witness a variety of exhibits that were put together by historians, curators, and filmmakers. You’ll see haunting artifacts, photos, film footage, and panels of text, illustrating the force and oppression of discrimination on the South African people.

The museum takes visitors through the timeline of Apartheid from its very beginnings up until today.

One of the most powerful displays is The Pillars of the Constitution. This monument is comprised of seven pillars, which, combined, represent the values put forth by the new South African constitution. These values include democracy, equality, reconciliation, diversity, responsibility, respect, and freedom.

trip to South Africa

At the end of your tour through the Apartheid Museum, you enter the color garden, where you choose a stick of any color you wish and place it into the garden of  colored-sticks. This is used to symbolize equality.

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