Opposite Holy Cross Church, a stone's throw from the former homes of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Vilakazi Street, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum is a crucial landmark. Pieterson, a 13-year-old scholar, was the first victim of police fire on June 16, 1976, when schoolchildren rose up to protest their second-rate Bantu (black) education system. The memorial is a paved area with benches for reflection, an inscribed stone and simple water feature; inside the museum are grainy photographs and films that bring that fateful day to life. A total of 562 small granite blocks in the museum courtyard are a tribute to the children who died in the Soweto uprisings.
Nov 30, 2009
Walking from the streets of Soweto into the museum and adjoining memorial is a sobering but absorbing experience. You get a well-rounded picture of the times, and a better understanding of the role played by many different people, not just Hector Pieterson. HIghly recommended; I'd think you should have at least an hour here.
Jul 28, 2007
This museum is excellently curated. First, it provides a context for the student uprisings in Soweto by presenting information on the educational system at the time. It also integrates the surrounding neighborhood into the exhibit through the use of windows and captions. As it describes the events of June 16, the museum uses oral accounts as well as photographs and films to achieve a balanced perspective. Despite being named after Hector Pieterson,
the museum does not seek to glorify him or turn him into a heroic figure; rather, it emphasizes what an ordinary boy he was, which somehow makes his death all the more poignant.