Johannesburg (Photo Diary)
On our entry back in to South Africa from Swaziland we learned that our visas were only valid for a few days (it turns out that they were not renewed on entry from Lesotho, after all). This did not give us enough time to visit Back to Africa’s Sable Project over 800km away in Kimberley. To renew our visas we had to spend some time in Mozambique. However, because an animal disease called heartworm is prevalent there, Bow Wow would not have been allowed back in to South Africa if we had taken him with us. Instead, he enjoyed a break from travelling and stayed at 5 star doggie lodgings, Bed and Biscuit, in Nelspruit. Even though we knew that he was really happy there, we missed him terribly and looked forward to having the whole team together again.
Once back in South Africa and with new visas, we picked up Bow Wow and headed for Johannesburg. Here we found out more about South Africa’s history by going to Constitution Hill, the site where thousands of political prisoners including Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela were once detained for opposing the apartheid regime. The former prison is now home to the Constitutional Court which protects human rights and embodies South Africa’s new culture of democracy. We also visited the Cradle of Humankind where some of the oldest hominid fossils have been and still are being discovered.
Back, briefly, to big city life.
Jo'burg has lots of parks to play in. In fact, the city has over ten million trees making it the biggest man-made forest in the world.
Plenty of sticks for fetch but no ocean. Bow Wow lets us know how much he misses swimming.
Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela are just two of the thousands of political prisoners who were detained here at Johannesburg's Old Fort Prison for resisting apartheid laws. The Awaiting Trial Block has been demolished except for its two stairwells which stand as a reminder of these political prisoners' courage and self-sacrifice.
The site, which once violated human rights, is now home to the Constitutional Court which protects human rights. 'Constitutional Court' is written here in South Africa's eleven official languages.
South Africa's is said to be one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.
This poignant art work, depicting growing shadows, commemorates the long hours that women used to wait here in the hope of seeing their imprisoned son, brother or husband.
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones – and South Africa treated its imprisoned African citizens like animals.” (Former political prisoner, Nelson Mandela)
Number Four was the section of the prison reserved for non-white prisoners. Nelson Mandela managed to joke that at last all of the ANC members were together but in reality it was a filthy, overcrowded and violent place. Pictured are the isolation cells dreaded by inmates.
Prisoners described being detained in an isolation cell as "like going to the grave alive".
They were kept like this for up to 30 days with no sunlight and given only weevil-infested rice and water.
Blanket sculptures like this one were made to appease prison officials.
“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also in prison.” (Henry David Thoreau, philosopher)
“The biggest gain has been that I find myself, beyond any shadow of a doubt, to have grown in mental strength in consequence of having endured physical suffering. I believe that jail has been of great profit to me and I am ready today to bear much heavier suffering without flinching.” (Former political prisoner, Mahatama Ghandi) Ghandi was jailed for over 7 months in Number Four for his non-violent resistance of apartheid laws. Here he mixed with different races and religions which forced him to challenge the religious and caste divisions which exist in Indian society. Had he not been subjected to the social injustice of a racially divided South Africa, perhaps his humanist values would not have developed and he may not have gone on to lead India to independence. His philosophy of non-violence greatly influenced Nelson Mandela who was incarcerated here almost half a century later.
“I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity. When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both.” (Former political prisoner, Nelson Mandela)
The bricks from the demolished Awaiting Trial Block have been used to build the Great African Steps which form a path between Number Four and the Constitutional Court.
Sunlight reflects from the Constitutional Court which embodies freedom, equality and dignity.
Almost 1,000 hominid fossils spanning several million years have been discovered in the Cradle of Humankind. These fossils of our ape-like ancestors provide clues about the evolution of the human race.
Thank goodness... “History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes.” (Mark Twain)
The Sterkfontein Cave is still an active excavation site. In 1997 a full skeleton was found encased in rock. This skeleton, called 'Little Foot", is estimated to be over 3 million years old and is still being painstakingly excavated today. Clearly they need someone with Bow Wow's digging skills in their excavation team.
Lachlan demonstrates how a caveman, running away from a hyena or perhaps his scary cave girlfriend, might have fallen down a hole like this and into a cave. Injured and unable to get out, the caveman would have died. If he became covered by rocks falling in to the cave, a process known as mineralisation might have occurred and his body would then have become preserved as a fossil.
In Johannesburg we stayed with more of Lucie’s family and Bow Wow got to know their dogs. Here are Gremlin and Bow Wow taking a dip...
and Toffee and Bow Wow playing soccer.
So long Jo'burg, next stop Kimberley.