SOUTH End Museum, which pays homage to the values of the old South End suburb and the people who made it the vibrant environment it was, is celebrating its tenth year of “keeping history alive” this month.
“It is a museum that tells a story of a once-upon-a-time community life that was deprived of further existence,” said museum administrator Colin Abrahams.
Abrahams, 65, is a retired school teacher and has been working at the museum since it opened in 2001. Having attended South End High School before the Group Areas Act of 1950 was implemented, Abrahams is intent on not letting the history of the area be forgotten.
At the museum, visitors can go back in time to the “old South End” when the suburb was steeped in history, with beautiful buildings dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of the buildings were destroyed after the residents were relocated.
South End was once a culturally diverse community before the Group Areas Act, created under the apartheid government, required all non-whites be ousted from “white” suburbs.
The different racial groups were assigned to areas far away from the city centre and certainly far away from the old South End.
The South End Museum acts as a vault of timeless information. Tour guide Sydney Prince is the perfect man for the job having grown up in the old South End.
During a tour visitors will view historic photos of the area as well as some of the people who made up the diverse community.
The walls of one room are plastered from floor to ceiling with newspaper cuttings, and visitors may watch video clips in the media room.
The museum also boasts several impressive displays, including the Fishing and Angling section, The Sports Hall of Fame and the Music and Dancing display.
Fishing and angling were the livelihoods of the South End culture. Sport and music were also a very big part of the South Enders’ daily lives.
The Molly Blackburn display is another favourite, especially among those who remember her whole-hearted attempts at battling injustices.
The museum has an enormous focus on community, education and religion.
Other activities include a guided heritage trail and educational programmes for schools.
The South End Museum has worked hard to provide a realistic and thorough portrayal of life in the old South End.
The gravity of the experience is only truly felt when walking amid the faces, places and lives of this incredible community.
The museum can be contacted on (041)582-3580 or visit the website www.south– endmuseum.co.za