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Uncover South African secrets at these Iziko Museums exhibits

Understand protest music, see into the life of a Bo-Kaap family + other African history

South Africa's history is rich and dark and triumphant and full of tribulation, and nothing tells that story quite like music and other oral traditions. Iziko Museums is currently showing "Singing Freedom: music and the struggle against apartheid", a fascinating exhibit that shows how integral music was in that fight. 

There are also permanent exhibitions, including a stunning collection of African ceramics, 270 million-year-old fossils, and the treasures of Willaim Fehr, a successful businessman with objects from the 17th to 19th centuries. 


YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THIS MOVING EXHIBIT

Singing Freedom is on at the Iziko Slave Lodge. It draws on oral histories and the memories of a number of activists – with a focus on some lesser-known names and events, such as the Ngquza Hill massacre, which took place in the Eastern Cape in June 1960. Police opened fire on people protesting against Transkei independence and the pass laws. 

It’s a powerful and emotional exhibit that allows people to listen to the music, read the lyrics and watch a series of audio-visuals, and talks about oral traditions and their importance under apartheid. Plus there’s also a really cool exhibit of protest t-shirts.

 

UNDERSTAND THE TRIUMPHS OF WOMEN

Also on exhibition at the Iziko Slave Lodge, Under Cover of Darkness brings to light the many untold stories of women forced into slavery and oppressive labour under colonialism. It’s told through highlighting the stories of three women, one of them unnamed.

This exhibition specifically highlights the experiences of enslaved women living under colonial rule at the Cape, and draws parallels between the historical roots of the violence against women and children, and gender-based violence today.



WHO ARE THE EFFENDIS OF THE BO-KAAP?

The Effendis of 71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap is an exhibition that honours the lives of the Effendi family, who previously lived in this house that is now home to the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum. Mahmoud Fakir Effendi contributed greatly to the Bo-Kaap community both through his school and his religious teaching and writing. 

“In this exhibition, Mahmoud Effendi and his family’s story is told for the first time in the very space in which they once lived. Forcibly removed from their home in 1978, The Effendis of 71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap relives their experiences of great joy and deep pain through photographs, objects and stories – on loan and told by the Effendis,” says Ellen Agnew, the communications coordinator and content editor for the Iziko Museums.

 

DELVE INTO THE WORK OF AN AWARD-WINNING ARTIST

Gabrielle Goliath is a multi-media artist and gender activist who won the 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist award for Visual Arts. Her powerful exhibition This song is for… is showing at the Iziko South African National Gallery, and is made up of a unique collection of dedication songs, each one chosen by a survivor of rape. They also chose a colour and wrote a reflection to accompany it.

Goliath collaborated with women and gender-queer-led ensembles to interpret the chosen songs, which held significance to the survivors by transporting them back to a particular time and place and evoking memories and feelings. “In a work like This song is for… I am seeking to resist the violence through which black, brown, feminine, queer and vulnerable bodies are routinely objectified, in the ways they are imaged, written about, spoken about… What I have in mind is a more empathic interaction," explains Goliath.

 

YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY IS A PRIORITY 

The Iziko Museums have only reopened their doors to the public very recently and take Covid-19 precautions very seriously. “Please note that while the Museum has resumed original operating hours, COVID19 health and safety protocols are still in place. This means that entry sessions will continue, with two-hour visiting sessions interspersed with sanitisation sessions,” says Ellen Agnew, Communications Coordinator for Iziko Museums.

The new operating hours are as follows:

Monday to Sunday:

You can visit the ISAM, ISANG, IMC, the Groot Constantia Manor House and the William Fehr Collection at the Castle of Good Hope from 10h00-12h00, 12h30-14h30, 15h00-17h00.

Mondays to Saturdays:

You can visit the ISL and IBKM from 10h00-12h00, 12h30-14h30, 15h00-17h00.

Thursdays and Fridays:

You can visit Rust en Vreugd and Koopmans-de Wet House from 10h00-12h00, 12h30-14h30, 15h00-17h00.

The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, with show times

aligning with entry sessions at the ISAM. During the upcoming school holidays, there will be three Planetarium shows per day from Tuesdays until Sundays. 

Below is a table showing the prices for all of Iziko’s operating museums.

MUSEUM

Adults

18 years & under

Family ticket

SA students & pensioners

 

5 years and under free (excl. Planetarium)

2 adults + 2 children

On provision of valid SA card

Iziko South African Museum

R30

R15

75

R15

Planetarium

R60

R30

N/A

30

Iziko South African National Gallery

R30

R15

R75

R15

Iziko Slave Lodge

R30

R15

R75

R15

Iziko Groot Constantia (Manor House)

R30

R15

N/A

R15

Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum

R20

R10

R50

R10

Iziko Koopmans De Wet

R20

R10

R50

R10

Iziko Rust & Vreugd

R20

R10

R50

R10

For more information, visit Iziko’s website.

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Love history? Then these Cape Town museums are a must-see.

There’s plenty of awesome things to do this weekend in Cape Town.

There are plenty of unique galleries in and around Cape Town to explore.

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