To think that in my 31 odd years of being South African and living in this beautiful country I have learnt so little about our complex history is not only upsetting but deeply embarrassing. Sure I could blame it on the school system; unfortunately myself and most of my peers were not taught “black history” so to speak in schools, our view of South African history was heavily biased and not at all a true reflection of the struggles that existed and those who lived and died fighting them. But it seems like a feeble excuse that crumbles the moment I try to take hold of it. The truth is that I have not made a big enough effort to know, to really understand our history and visiting the Hector Pieterson Museum a few days ago was a reminder of how little I knew.
After close to six years in Johannesburg, I took my first trip to Soweto and I was pleasantly surprised of how at home I felt. Visiting the Hector Pieterson Museum was emotionally difficult; to read the accounts of students and parents reliving the horror of the day and the days that followed and then to see the names of slain children inscribed on the bricks that lay on the ground outside moved me in a way defies description. I look at the group I arrived with, diverse and beautiful and I wonder how the ugliness I see in this museum me was ever part of the country that I love, the country that is my home. I do not know much, but I know that even though years have passed and times have changed, many of us still harbor hate in our hearts and it is a hate that comes to life in our actions and words. Standing in the museum that day it made sense to me that if I was ever to know my country I should first seek to understand it’s history.
I must also admit that I needed the change in mood that a visit to the Orlando Towers brought! From the deep sense of oppression and the emotions that the Hector Pieterson Museum brought, I was glad for the light, carefree vibe at Chaf Pozi at the Towers. My change in mood also a stark reminder to the contradictions that are part of South Africa but more so a reminder that South African’s, despite everything, still know how to have a good time! A few Zamalek’s later, with generous, delicious food in front of me and a view of the colourful towers, I wondered how it had taken me so long to get here.