February 2, 2008

Old Fort Prison and Constitutional Hill

Old Fort Prison, commonly known as Number Four, was home to many of apartheid’s atrocities. Every political prisoner – from Nelson Mandela to Mahatma Gandhi – was held and abused there. And Number Four’s “common law” prisoners faced even further severe human rights violations and indignities there.

In an effort to both acknowledge the past and move towards the future, South Africa chose to place it’s Constitutional Court on the site of Old Fort Prison. The Court, which has created perhaps the most progressive Constitution in existence, hears only cases of human rights violations and works to move South Africa forward. As such, it was built out of the bricks of the Old Fort Prison into a new, forward-moving, inclusive space that is deeply embossed in symbolism. In doing so, the Constitutional Court building demonstrates both the beauty and challenge of diversity. It sits as an example of inclusiveness without assimilation and demonstrates how different cultures can mix together and still stand on their own.

The photos tell the story best. (Click on the box twice to see the slideshow full screen.)

1 comment:

Liz Kraft said...

This is a fabulous entry. You're such a talented writer, and it's great that you're able to shed light on the highs and lows of life South Africa, not to mention some of it's dismal history. I feel like I'm right there with you! Can't wait to read about your future adventures!