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kosmopolis institute
world citizenship
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Kosmopolis Institute Publications Day 4: Museum

Day 4: Museum














At 1345, we went for an excursion to several places: Vroue monument (Women’s monument), war museum, Maphike House and Heidedal Township. On our way to the museum, I saw a graveyard, Christian cemetery, across the museum area. We met Johan, the guide. He was working for the museum for 15 years, then quit. He’s now teaching at the Tourism Dept, Central University of Technology, not far from UFS. Explanation started from statues of a soldier riding a horse leaving a mother carrying a baby. Then we moved on to the museum, passing through the ticket box. No camera allowed, so I did not make any documentation. The place is more like a house, the interior I mean; classic with simple lighting. Paintings are very dominant, either on canvas or porcelain but in a very large size. Paintings in the 2nd floor are 3mx6m large, 7 paintings hung on the wall, very old. Johan explained about the Anglo-Boer war in an encouraging voice. We also stopped at the area of Emily Hobhouse, a historical female figure. Then we had some time to go around the house observing the historical artifacts or whatever that seem antique. Afterward, we proceeded to women’s memorial. There is a monument, obelisk, with a name of Emily Hobhouse carved at the bottom of it. Johan said that the ashes of Emily’s body (she died in London) were put in the monument. There are also 3 more tombs (I forget the names). At each tomb, a basket of fake flowers is put above the stone. Johan said that the memorial is aimed to tell humans that war gives no good, but brings suffering to women and children.


We then went for a drive in Township and Bloemanda. We observed housing complexes, classified by economy classification: poor black people (a very simple house, small, like a box), homes of reconstruction development program, black middle class, white middle class, white and black rich class. Also, an area of prostitution that majority girls are the ‘workers’. I saw several, with vibrant color clothing. Then, we went to Maphike House for dinner. We gathered in a common room with a fireplace. We discussed about the museum and the houses. Most South Africans agreed that the museum only reminds them with pain of the historical background; land was taken away, being robbed, etc. Even Frank the Dutch, he felt rather frustrated (:D) with museum as he himself perceived it as a nonsense effort, romanticizing the history. He did not even care about anything related to either history or culture. I felt some kind of irritating feelings as well; only war between white and white, so the black??? I shared my thought to all, to me, a museum is a way to look at the past from the present; the discourses that we had been talking about, were efforts in looking at it from today’s perspectives, perhaps, the heroes and anyone of the past had thought that they would not be able to tell their stories, but let the things tell the stories to younger generations, museum is positive; well, there must be reasons why a museum is built and owned right?! I also wonder how many people visit the museum, I compare with museums in Indonesia had less visitors coming, dramatically, as if allergic to it, does the same thing happen in Bloemfontein?


Dewi van Jogja (CRCS-UGM, Indonesia)