Sunday, March 26, 2006

Constitution Hill

On Friday World of Work Internship Training delegates including myself spent the whole day at Constitution Hill where we were taken on a tour of both the men’s and women’s prisons. I found the tour very depressing because of all the atrocious conditions that freedom fighters and other ordinary people had to endure when they were incarcerated. It was the notorious Section 4 and 5 that made me feel like that. Hundreds of thousands of black men were stripped of their dignity by the apartheid regime in these sections. I urge everyone to find time to go to Constitution Hill and get a feel of this South African history. I think it provides a link and may help explain why South Africa is the way it is today. So many issues that deal with democracy and upholding it are based there at the Constitutional court where cases are heard and judgments passed. I hope what happened at Constitution Hill will never be repeated and hopefully that it just remains what it is; history.


Blogger Lesley Emanuel said...

Hi Pascalia

I relate to the impact the visit had on you. I first went with WoW delegates in 2002. I've been lucky to see how Con Hill has developed since then. I think it's a powerful place.

I once wrote a poem about it, and Kliptown. Here it is for you! - Lesley

The History of a Place

Hotel brochures list
sites in pounds/dollars/euros,
for a Jo’burg tour.
A heritage shuttle,
first stop Constitution Hill -
Please wear sturdy shoes.
Student guides know all
the plans, visions and budgets,
have the cells paced.
Plans for rubbish bins,
even a childcare center:
Drop Your Kiddies Here.

See? Smell the terror?
They know the history too,
so you get the drift.
It’s better now:
a breastfeeding prisoner
can keep her baby…
I get the picture,
a mother and child tableau:
Suckle damn you drink.

Next stop is Kliptown
and Soweto from the bus,
Watch your handbags now!
You’re free to stroll
once inside the museum,
pay at the exit.
Reading the stories,
mobiled versions in wire frames,
I bash my toe hard.
Curled hot swear words
for an absurd centrepiece,
a bucket toilet.

Somewhere, someone knows
the unabbreviated
version of it all.
They’re shaking heads,
Joe Slovo and the old folks,
too tired to do more.
The grannies are shamed
they kept the courtyard crapper
exposed as it was.

A matter of time
before tourists throw their coins
into where they sat.

4:34 am  
Blogger Psychewellbeing said...

Hi Pascalia. I also thought the whole experience of touring around the Constitution Hill was depressing. I believe that although some atrocities are still happening in our prisons today, at least there are human rights to protect prisoners and also the government is making effort to put things right in prisons.

5:42 am  

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