What visitors to the museum can expect.
A visit to the South End Museum etches deep into the minds and hearts of the guest. This museum immerses one into the lives, cultures, challenges, tragedies and victories of those that experienced Apartheid at its most intense.
The experience starts on entry into South End, where the Wild Fig Tree, Hindu Temple and Muslim mosques stand out amidst the everyday hustle and bustle of the Nelson Mandela Metropole. The building that houses the museum was, itself, a prominent and important structure. Situated right on the shore, this was a key position since fishing was such an integral part of the South End community.
The entrance hall is peppered with photos of old South End as well as the some of the people who made up the diverse community. Sidney Prince is the tour guide and gives the commentary in English. He grew up in the old South End and is ideally suitable to provide visitors from all over the world with a first-hand perspective of the world and the suburb at this crucial time in South African history.
The tour starts off by establishing the sense of what it was like living in the old South End. There was an enormous focus on community, education and religion. The scene of a typical South End home right in the museum evokes the sense of close family bonds and focuses on the social interactions enjoyed by South End locals.
The walls of the next room are plastered from ceiling to floor with newspaper cuttings. The media covered all sorts of relevant stories, from general interest to community initiatives to stories about key players in the Apartheid struggle. This glimpse into the media coverage and exposure of South End provides a very real perspective on the lives and events that these people experienced.
The South End Museum boasts several impressive displays, including the Fishing & Angling section, The Sports Hall of Fame and the Music and Dancing display. Fishing and angling were the livelihoods of the South End culture. The importance placed on this vocation by the residents resounds in the fun, accurate display of photographs, fishing equipment, and awards in this section.
Sport was another area of the South Enders lives that was considered with much respect and dedication. Those living in South End were involved, either casually or competitively, in almost every sort of sport available. This display provides impressive records of the success of the community in an array of sporting arenas. A fantastic feature of this display is the plaques erected in homage to those who, in different circumstances, would have qualified on a provincial or national level.
The music and dancing display comprises real musical items including an old radio, LP player and jukebox. Models have been built of some of the more popular halls in and around South End and are sure to evoke some happy memories in the minds of those that frequented these dances.
The Molly Blackburn display is another favourite, especially among those that remember her whole-hearted attempts at conquering injustices.
The South End Museum has worked hard to provide a realistic and thorough portrayal of life in the old South End. The gravity of the experience is only truly felt when walking amidst the faces, places and lives of this incredible community.