South Africa’s rich history and tough struggle against apartheid is firmly etched on Port Elizabeth, writes FERDINAND MWONGELA
Port Elizabeth. It sounds old, like the kind of place you would go for a quiet time.
Port Elizabeth is a part of the wider Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan area with nicknames like the friendly city, windy city or even Africa’s water sport capital; it is a fascinating destination in itself.
|The statue of Elizabeth who is named after the city.[Photo:Standard]|
Forget the fast pace and clinical feel of Johannesburg, or the quietly posh look of South Africa’s other well-known city, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth has its own feel.
Landing here was not quite in the traditional way. Docking early in the morning by ship eager to get to shore and explore, or something pretty close, sounds almost like the characters from Robert Luis Stevenson’s book Treasure Island. Only there were no pirates here, just chaps eager to set foot on solid ground after a couple of days out at sea.
Oh and the relief. Not that I minded. The city is also quite easily accessible by air or road.
Once on shore, our little band was raring to go and to take us out to the city on a bus screaming “hakuna matata”, we really sold that brand; I guess we export more than tea and coffee. But that is a topic for another day.
There is always something about a beautiful city by the sea. It is relaxing and attractively calm. South Africa’s coast along the southern most tip of the continent stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean means she has more than her fair share of coastal destinations to play with. Port Elizabeth is one of these.
The first stop was the Red Location Museum. As museums go I must say I am usually impressed, or a little jittery depending on whatever ferocious stuffed animal they have got in there. This museum, however, is a refreshing approach to the whole thing.
The museum situated in New Brighton Township is a factory styled structure with an interesting play on interactivity and use of space. What probably sets it apart from a lot of other museums is that its centre of focus is the struggle against apartheid.
The area itself played a significant role in this time of South African history and the nation remembers its heroes here. The first branch of Umkhonto we Sizwe (which translates to ‘spear of the nation’ the armed wing of the African National Congress) was started here.
The name Red Location is itself derived from a series of corrugated iron barrack building, which were part of a Boer Concentration camp in Uitenhage, also part of Nelson Mandela Bay. The buildings were moved in 1900 to Red Location and the first black families settled here in 1903.
Images of historic events, tragic and momentous at the same time, immortalise those who stood up to be counted.
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