Story of anti-apartheid struggle on show at Red Location Museum
IF YOU feel like a break from the beach, take some time out to discover the stories of our history and the heroes who made South Africa the Rainbow Nation it is today.
My Holiday Hotline colleague Ryan and I visited Red Location Museum in New Brighton recently and learned of the significant role this township played in the liberation of all South Africans.
I was blown away by this R40-million building. So it was no surprise to discover it scooped the Architectural and Civil Engineering – Transforming the Museum Traditions of the 20th Century Award at the World Leadership Awards in 2006.
Situated on the corner of Singaphi and Olof Palme streets in New Brighton, the museum offers an eye-opening experience and insight into the long way we have come as South Africans.
Red Location was the first black township in Port Elizabeth and got its name from the barracks made of corrugated iron that rusted to a deep red colour in 1903 after the Anglo Boer War. Our tour guide, Vuyisile Pandle, explained that the museum was designed as a factory-styled structure to echo the design of the factories where the first people who moved to Red Location worked.
The first exhibit Vuyisile showed us was the Hall Columns – high pillars with photographs of anti-apartheid heroes such as Frances Baard, George Pemba, Govan Mbeki, Florence Matomela, Dora Nginza and Raymond Mhlaba.
Red Location carries a lot of apartheid-era history. The first MK cell – the military wing of the ANC – was formed there and many prominent political and cultural leaders were either born or lived in Red Location. Also, a number of significant “struggle” events occurred there.
The museum also has a wall of remembrance of the Langa Massacre in Uitenhage, where 20 people were shot dead by police on March 21, 1985, the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, the day that has become known as Human Rights Day.
We then moved on to an exhibition dedicated to Vuyisile Mini, one of the first to be arrested and sentenced to death for participation in the Campaign of Defiance Against Unjust Laws on March 16, 1964. He was executed on November 6, 1964. The exhibition has a voice recording which echoes off the walls as you walk in, while nooses hang from the ceiling. There is also a video of Steve Biko’s funeral and interviews he did with the BBC.
I was deeply moved by the photographic exhibition on the people of Red Location and New Brighton. It was heartbreaking to see the terrible conditions people lived in and how some still live post apartheid.
The Red Location Museum is all about community development and upliftment.
They hold art workshops, memorial lectures, live broadcasts of major events, human rights celebrations as well as Christmas parties for local children, street art and fashion shows.
Other facilities at the museum include arts and crafts stalls, an outdoor screening arena which can accommodate 7 000 people and a shop. For events and conferences, the museum hires out their auditorium, which seats 120 people, as well as their conference room which takes 80 people. The museum restaurant can also be hired.
This world-class museum has also won the Dedalo Minosse International Prize given to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality for commissioning the building in June 2006, the RIBA-Lubetkin Award from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2006 and the PMR-Eastern Cape Leaders Achievers June 2006, 2007 and 2008.
It is open between 9am and 4pm, Mondays to Fridays, and 9am to 3pm on Saturdays. Entry is R12 for adults, R5 for students and R3.50 for high school pupils. Entry is free for primary school pupils, pensioners and the disabled. The unemployed can also visit the museum for free on Wednesdays between 12.30pm and 4pm.
For more information contact them on 041-408 8400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
HOLIDAY HISTORY . . . Red Location Museum tour guide Vuyisile Pandle shows Holiday Hotline team Ryan Morris and Khanyisa Sunduzwayo a wall-hanging of freedom fighter Steve Biko. Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN