I’ve always enjoyed visiting historic prisons for their history and their decaying look, but I have never visited a prison that has been repurposed to share the stories of political prisoners who were involved the liberation of their country. The most interesting part of the prison for me was the women’s ward in the isolation rooms, where the voices of these freedom fighters can be heard again in unison; it’s almost like a choir. I also like the look of decay on the walls as it sort of represents the eroding of the past in a way that soon South Africans will look back on apartheid as a plague from long ago. We also visited the Constitutional Court, which is probably the most transparent court in the world in every sense. The design of the building with windows in the ceiling allowing rays of sun to shine in gives one the feeling that nothing is hidden from the people. The courtroom, as you can see below, is completely bright with natural light flooding in through the windows. There are eleven seats for the eleven official languages of the nation, and the South African flag to the far left. The walls are built from the bricks of the prison to remind everyone of the past but also to show that this building that once robbed people of their human rights is now being used to defend them. The old building can be seen through the window next to the translators’ seats as a reminder of the past.
We got to experience some South African theatre in the township of Soweto on Youth Day, the anniversary of the shooting of Hector Pieterson during the uprising of schoolchildren against Afrikaans only lessons in 1976. The performance had many musical elements with singing and a mixture of traditional and modern dances. The play expressed the frustration and pain of apartheid, but also offered a form of healing in the process. The singing reminded me of a cry of pain and suffering, while the dancing possessed a retaliatory nature. Both combined to give one a sense of the struggle emotionally through song.