Hector Pieterson Museum, Johannesburg

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  • Hector Pieterson Museum
    by catherineneill
  • Monument to the 1976 Soweto uprising
    Monument to the 1976 Soweto uprising
    by CatherineReichardt
  • The road along which the '76 protesters advanced
    The road along which the '76 protesters...
    by CatherineReichardt
  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Hector Pieterson Memorial/Museum

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Apr 12, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The road along which the '76 protesters advanced
    2 more images

    The Hector Pieterson Memorial is a wonderful museum dedicated to a single - but monumentally important - event: the Soweto Uprising on 16 June 1976 (sensitively commemorated in the 'new' South African calender as the Children's Day public holiday).

    The Soweto Uprising started as a peaceful demonstration by schoolchildren at the imposition of Afrikaans (widely viewed by the black population as the language of the oppressor) as the medium of instruction. Riot police opened fire on the demonstrators, and Soweto descended into chaos. Hector Pieterson was immortalised as the first casualty - there is a searing photo of his hysterical friend fleeing with Hector's body in his arms, his terrified sister running alongside, which is arguably one of the most enduring images of the apartheid era (his sister is apparently a tour guide at the museum).

    The architecture of the building is brilliantly thought out - for example, there is description of what the view from several of the windows would have been on that fateful day. There is also tremendous use of audio visual material and many, many personal accounts of the events (although a visitor could not realistically take in all of these in a single visit).

    If you are going to be in Soweto, then I think that this museum is a 'must' for anyone with the slightest interest in understanding South African history. However, I suggest that you give yourself sufficient time to take this in (a hour at the least). Most people will visit as part of a township tour, but I understand that some less reputable tour guides only pay this museum a flying visit - to my mind, it's worth a lot more time than the small (and, to my mind, underwhelming and overpriced) Mandela House at Vilakazi St or lunch in a shebeen (such as Wandi's, which is fun but hopelessly commercialised and not very different to any other tavern worldwide), so to avoid disappointment, make sure that you have some idea of the time allocated to these various attractions before you select your tour.

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  • catherineneill's Profile Photo

    Hector Pieterson Museum

    by catherineneill Updated May 1, 2011

    Also in Soweto is the large Hecter Pieterson museum, which covers the events around the Soweto Uprising
    A great mix of photos from the time, video footage as well as the very interesting exhibits of weapons used both by the police and the protestors, including bin lids used as shields by the black protestors against the police
    Very good experience and a quirky museum with a nice layout
    There is also a memorial to Hector outside and some small stalls with locals selling artefacts etc..

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    • Photography

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  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo

    Hector Pierson Memorial and Museum

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Aug 5, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Hector Pierson Memorial

    One of the saddest moments of apartheid was the gunning down of 13 year old Hector Pierson after he and his classmates took to the streets to protest being forced to learn Afrikaaner.

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    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits

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  • queensgirl's Profile Photo

    The Hector Peterson Museum

    by queensgirl Written Oct 25, 2004
    Hector Peterson Museum

    Located two blocks from where 13 year old was shot dead in 1976 during a protest. This is a must see place it gives details of aparteid and struggle against it.

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    • Historical Travel

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