Wednesday, July 29, 2009

South Africa 2009: Soweto and the Apartheid Museum

Johannesburg. Egoli. Some call it the murder capital of the world, and its electric fences, panic buttons and armed response security teams are enough to make the hardiest traveller wary. But it was a relief to get back after our experiences in the hell that is Swaziland, and on the Barberton goldfields. We chartered a private jet (see above) to transport ourselves and the massive pile of ivory, lion skins and looted Boer arms back to civilisation, and landed ourselves on the doorstep of Vivian and Derek, the highest echelons of Gauteng glitterati.

Vivian and Derek live in unimaginable opulence, and think a week is wasted if they haven't managed to trash a Ferrari or fill a hot tub with Cristal Brut. God knows why they agreed to host us, perhaps they needed to do some charity work to write off some tax. Nevertheless, they are two of the finest chaps imaginable who didn't even blink at the foul stench we were emitting after nearly four weeks of non stop campaigning.

Chateau Vivian aux Derek
We had barely had time to have our illegal ivory and diamonds confiscated by the authorities when we were on the road again - to the uncharted territory of Soweto!

Our first stop was the Apartheid Museum, documenting the rise and fall of apartheid and 20th century South African history.

Alex, wondering whether he is about to commit a major faux pas.

Inspired, thinking about the massive museum that will be built to commemorate our huge victory over the Boer.

Vivian and Derek making a casual offer to buy the entire Apartheid Museum, all its contents and the land on which it stands.

Some shots of apartheid stuff.

A solitary confinement cell - not university accommodation, despite similar appearances.

Derek doing time.

Onwards, to Soweto!

Bandit country!

Viv and Derek engaged the services of a shadowy figure to act as our guide. He answered to the name Xobo, but later denied having ever heard the name Xobo before. A large part of the tour involved him driving past sights at speed, often shouting "Get on the floor!" as he slammed his foot on the accelerator, or doing high speed U turns.

Firing a pistol out of the passenger window.

As a result, most of these pictures were taken from the car window, under fire, so I hope you appreciate them.
Get a lawyer? After I have got some body armour, methinks.

Pretty much our only stop was Walter Sisulu Square (billed as "South Africa’s first township entertainment explosion centre"!), site of an impressive monument to the Freedom Charter. Xobo didn't get out of the car himself - instead, he kept the motor running and covered us with his pistol as we ran bent double to the monument.

An eternal flame burns in the heart of the monument - lit by former president Thabo Mbeki, his spokesperson said "The flame will not go out even if it rains". Truly a noble monument to a historic document.

The eternal flame. It has been put out because neighbourhood kids were at risk of getting burned. It's health and safety gone mad!!

The gentleman on the right is the best reason to go to Soweto.

He gives you the lowdown - straight, as it is.

He won't prettify the history, or make it 'family-friendly' or water it down.

He doesn't go mental at kids playing all over his monument...

...and he play's the national anthem...


Vivian, calculating how much champagne it would take to fill the monument.

The Regina Mundi church. It's a tip, full of bullet holes and the altar's all smashed up. You'd think they'd fix it up, after all it's a major tourist attraction.

Local lad done good.

Local lads on their way to do good.

So we're tooling around Soweto and who should we bump into but Antoinette Pieterson, Hector Pieterson's sister!

Viv, earning the GDP of Burundi in the time this photo was taken.

Another day, another sunset. Truly it is by the grace of the gods that we survived to see so many!

God Squad, Yeoville. Apparently they're using decommissioned technicals to get around!

OK party people, we're drawing this baby to a close: not many posts left to come. But you can always go back:


alex_sotheran said...

That nose flutist was none other than Samuel L. Jackson. Do you remember, he blew our brains out afterwards whilst quoting the bible?

Lily Roth said...

My dear Messrs. Sotheran and McKibbin,

So, THAT is what happened to your brains! I am enlightened now. I would also have given, perhaps as much as £100 to have been on this epic journey of yours!

When, in all your journeying, will you come visit me in the Big Smoke? Hitherto, I've been too ill to travel and soon the baby boy I'm harbouring will make me too large to you'll have to come to the mountain so to speak.

Mrs. Lily Roth

Craig said...

So THAT'S why John Travolta was there... I have been thinking about that for the past two weeks!

Good lord, Mrs. Roth, may I offer my heartiest congratulations to you, your husband and all your staff! A boy, eh? Damn fine things, baby boys. I should know - I was one once. I will endeavour to journey southwards as soon as my bail conditions permit; Sotheran will have to speak for himself.