Story of anti-apartheid strug­gle on show at Red Lo­ca­tion Mu­seum

The Herald (South Africa) - - News - Khany­isa Sun­duzwayo

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 nhoza@man­de­lametro.gov.za

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

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