Saturday, April 04, 2009

this should be in a museum!

one of the pillars of the new constitution outside the apartheid museum

I remember the scene from my beloved Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when he's chasing the bandits at an archaeological dig, trying to rescue this big, golden cross. He's breathless running around and pulling his incredible stunts on trains and across the desert, clutching at this cross, trying to protect it. Perhaps ridiculous to link up Apartheid and Indy's golden cross, but I couldn't help but think of that scene, while sitting in the little veld outside the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.

As I was finishing Yunus's Creating a World Without Poverty, I remember him dwelling (for a few pages) on the concept of poverty museums. Museums are for remembering - pieces of our culture, pieces of things that make up the history of man. Just as much as that big, golden cross belongs in a museum, argues Yunus, so do the social ills that plague society. On my recent travels in Africa, I've visited three museums - none of which commemorate culture or art.

Kigali Genocide Memorial Center - Kigali, Rwanda
The Hector Pieterson Museum - Orlando West, Soweto, South Africa
Apartheid Museum - Johannesburg, South Africa

Perhaps in creating a beautiful space to commemorate the horrific things we've done to each other, that violence and hatred can be a thing of the past. After reading through the history and seeing the exhibits about Apartheid's creation and demise, I sat down in the veld and realized that there is a piece of me missing. I cannot fathom hatred. This has been bugging me lately - first when I was in Rwanda, and now in South Africa.

I at first thought Yunus's proposition of a "poverty museum" a bit laughable, but I'm coming around on the concept. Surely the phrase "never again" must have a broader breadth than genocide alone.

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