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Posted on: Thursday, 10 January 2013

South End Museum in Port Elizabeth

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South End Museum

South End Museum

The South End Museum tells the story of a suburb in Port Elizabeth that was once vibrant with different cultures, languages and colours. Children played in the street, neighbours chatted over the walls and dances were held every weekend, allowing the entire community to congregate in a haze of innocent fun. Then came the forced removals of the apartheid regime. These dashed the hopes and lives of those living peacefully in South End, wrenching friends and families apart as homes and businesses were destroyed and people were scattered to the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, based solely on their colour.

The South End Museum was established to tell the stories of the black, Indian, coloured and Chinese individuals that underwent these forced removals, but also to paint a clear picture of what life in old South End was like. These cultures and peoples formed the foundation for many of the modern inhabitants and even businesses of Nelson Mandela Bay. As they tell their stories, the diversity of the Friendly City is brought to the fore and appreciated in a brand new way.

The South End Museum combines advanced technology with authentic elements from yesteryear. These range from hand-written letters from Dawid Stuurman and newspaper articles about the anti-apartheid efforts to digital displays on “invisible” Perspex screens.

Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth

Tours are conducted by an experienced guide who actually underwent the forced removals of South End. He imparts facts and insights, but also conveys a touching element of raw emotion based on personal memories and the terror he remembers from that time.

To understand the old South End, one has to learn about the things that were important to these people. So, there are displays dedicated to their sports, music and religion. These are as varied as the people themselves. The full range of displays comprises:

  • Dawid Stuurman
  • Molly Blackburn
  • Cape Malay Community
  • The Indian Community
  • Fishing and Angling
  • Music and Dancing
  • Music Exhibition
  • Memorable Performers and Bands
  • The Khoikhoi People Exhibit
  • Wall of Fame Exhibition
  • South End Communities
  • Sports

A huge importance is placed on educating the youth of our modern generation. It is only if they understand the mistakes of the past that they can ensure that their decisions in the future don’t repeat these. So, school groups are often taken on tours of the museum and given the opportunity to see famous faces and get a glimpse into the horror of the apartheid regime.

The South End Museum is equipped for disabled visitors, and off-street parking is available.

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Amelia Meyer


Amelia is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for all things travel-related. She is based in Knysna, but has studied, lived and travelled further afield. She studied Film, Media and Literature at the University of Cape Town. She began her solo career in the form of Voxate Writing & Editing in 2008 and loves every minute of it. Amelia believes in silver linings, lessons learnt and the responsibility to do what’s right. When she is not writing, she can frequently be found at the local animal shelter, on the bicycle trails of the nature reserves or sampling new restaurants with her family.

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