One day of sightseeing in Johannesburg and Pretoria is all we had, and all we really needed. To be fair, there are more things you can do in both those places, but with South Africa being such a wonderfully big country, we preferred to spend our two weeks there anywhere besides Jo’burg and Pretoria!
After we picked up our rental van, we headed for a Johannesburg must-see, the Apartheid Museum.
To be honest, both Earl and I have been like ostriches with our heads in the sand regarding the apartheid issue. We have a rough idea about it, but not enough to have any kind of coherent conversation regarding the history of apartheid, or life in South Africa since the end of apartheid.
In our opinion, the museum was really well done. It was a bit overwhelming for us since we had very little previous knowledge, but it was certainly very moving. The kind of place you can visit many times, and will learn something new each time, but not become bored.
When we bought our tickets, they issued us an arbitrary race each, and for a small moment in time, Earl was a white person and I was non-white. We started our museum tour by entering through separate doorways. It really struck us that apartheid split families and communities.
Inside there were real-life stories of some families, an extensive biography of Nelson Mandela, though that was a temporary exhibit, and a lot of videos and information regarding the events before, during, and after apartheid. Kind of overwhelming, as I said, but very moving.
After the Apartheid Museum, we headed to Pretoria. With our van, we were able to drive through several of the communities in the city, and explore the historic downtown as well. Unfortunately we knew very little at this time regarding the history of South Africa and the important figures, since we’d only just arrived there. Still, we bought some tea, wandered around and took some photos and generally enjoyed the area.
This is Paul Kruger, who we discovered later was an extremely influential figure in Boer history. We kept coming across references to him all over the area we travelled.
Could we have spent more time in Johannesburg and Pretoria? Of course, but given that there is such a wealth of other beautiful areas in South Africa, we felt our time would be better spent exploring some of the more outlying areas. Stay tuned for the rest of our South African adventures!