South End Museum portrays a society, a movement and a recovery that is symbolic of the struggle and victory of South Africa as a whole. For this reason, it is both relevant and influential to the further development of our country. The generation that will lead this country into future successes and true racial equality is (largely) yet to learn about the generations past as they enjoy the freedoms won through the immense battles of the previous generations.
It is vital that, while painful, the past is not forgotten. Rather than dwelling on the injustices faced only a few decades ago, though, we want to learn about the past to avoid making the same mistakes in the future of South Africa. Forgetting this past would be depriving the country of the vast and impressive political and social changes that we have undergone, it would be negotiating on the significance of the initiatives taken and the lives lost. Not only is the story of South End of emotional importance, but it bears weighty consequences on our current and potential political situation as well. South End serves as an official medium for the stories of the individual freedom fighters – such as Molly Blackburn, Dawid Stuurman and Govan Mbeki – and the vital parts they played in the vindication of the non-white population of South Africa.
Education is important for another reason. The residents of the old South End recognised the importance of education. It was something of which no human being could be denied. Being immersed in a society of denial and prohibition, the non-white sector of the population (both in South Africa and in South End) were restricted in many spheres of their lives. They were not able to attend the same functions, shop in the same centres, or receive the same opportunities as whites. They were forced to compromise on their prospects as they were denied the right to achieve as much as what the whites could. For example, despite sporting achievements, non-whites would never be allowed to enter at regional or national level.
However, education was one of the basic provisions granted (albeit at great cost to non-whites), and the non-white population of South End treasured it. Although they did not look forward to being granted a position of skilled labour, they did not neglect their education. Schools were plentiful in the suburb of South End, and were often linked to the churches, which were equally important to the culture of that time. Even the school buildings were respected and well-maintained, often housing dances, shows and fares.
South End Museum pays homage to the values of the old South End suburb and the people that made it the vibrant environment that it was. Because education played such an integral part in this community, the museum seeks to further promote the importance of education for the youth of all races today. This will equip them for the challenges this country is still facing, as well as instil in them a deep respect for the efforts made to ensure equal opportunities for all.