Day 4 – Late morning
I was not really prepared to experience the Slave Lodge. The intense emotional impact it had on me was one of the “surprises” of the trip thus far. In the foyer was a reminder that slavery is not yet ended but it continues through the trafficking of humans. I appreciated this fact confronting us as we entered so that we could withhold judgment on what happened. How many of us fight slavery these days?
I began the tour with two of the South African students. In the replica of part of the slave ships, I looked over at their faces and wondered what was running through their minds. I walked on, sensing that they might appreciate doing the tour without me. They probably did not need this white woman hanging around as they encountered their history.
Two quotes from the museum percolated reactions deep within:
“They transported my body. But I wasn’t there. My memory has vomited these days when the screaming and the moaning mingled with the roaring of the sea.” (The Slave Caravan by Betani). Memory is tainted by so much. How can one remember the details of unspeakable horrors? Surely our bodies and minds are not meant to carry these terrors. They must be vomited out. Yet how then does this affect the testimonies given during the South AfricanTruth and Reconciliation Commission? The perpetrators who braaied bodies or “necklaced” snitches must have images burned on their minds forever—or buried deep. Either way, are details remembered accurate? Most people reconstruct their memories, I am sure.
“I’m not a Christian that accepts exploitation …I believe in Christianity that defends justice” ~Oliver Tambo. Tambo was clear about his faith and his responsibility. The exhibit honouring him was very enlightening. This museum allowed people to see the truth of a man whose faith inspired him to action but it begs the question as to how nations remember “controversial” figures. Today’s hero can be yesterday’s terrorist. What do we do with our judgments of people? How do we understand people in the big picture as well as the moment? There is so much to consider and I want to live in a way so that people will recognize my dependence on the Divine.