The first three rooms of the South End Museum, leading out of the reception area, are:
1. Introductory Room – introducing visitors to the Trustees and revealing the history of the museum, newspaper clippings and photos of buildings in old South End
2. South End Hero Room
3. Hall of Memories
To begin a tour of South End Museum is to embark on an experience quite different to any other. You will meet fascinating people from yesteryear; people who fought against the injustices of the time and to a certain measure changed the course of history. You will see newspaper clippings and heart-wrenching photographs of forced removals and you will, no doubt, be left in sheer admiration for those that fought against the regime of Apartheid; whether their efforts were mammoth or miniscule. This is an emotional look into the history of Nelson Mandela Bay and the people that make it unique. The first two rooms of the South End Museum are dedicated to preparing you for this moving experience. Stunning modern displays give visitors a brief overview of the exhibitions being showcased in the museum. In addition, you will be introduced to the trustees and to the formal structure of the museum, giving you full assurance that all efforts are being made to preserve the integrity of the old South End and its people. The scene of a typical South End dining room, complete with crockery and ornaments, gives visitors a sense of the focus on family life in this community that is preserved now only in the memories and remnants of the past. A moment in time is re-enacted by actors on a Perspex screen that is non-invasive, but an effective means of setting the scene. In addition, this part of the exhibition invites visitors to watch interviews with some of the original South End inhabitants, listening to their memories and the effect that the forced removals had on such ones. Such personal encounters resonate with young and old alike. Light boxes and vinyl cladding have been used to immerse you, the visitor, into the South End experience. Black and white photographs from old newspapers adorn the walls from floor to ceiling; depicting the individuals that made up this community, the challenges they faced, their places of education and worship, their accomplishments and joys, as well as the horror of the forced removals experience. This museum is set apart by its use of style and modern elegance in portraying the past. It is the ideal venue for school outings and family visits, and appeals to members of every age group, nationality and language.
History of South End
South End, as a suburb, was once a cosmopolitan community. Men, women, children and families lived harmonious lives in the epicentre of cultural diversity. Blacks, whites, coloureds, Indians, Chinese, Jews, Greeks and many more were united in their attitude towards family values, faith and morals, despite the diversity of religion, language and race.
Dawid Stuurman played a key role in the Khoi Rebellion, or Third Frontier War, which lasted from 1799 to 1803. He was born near the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape in 1773 and was one of four sons. The farm on which he was born belonged to Van Reenen; however, when the land was given to Hilgert Mulder in 1778, Stuurman and his family were kicked off the property.
The Cape Malay Community
The very first Malays in South Africa are thought to have arrived in the Cape with Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. A short while later, even more arrived in the form of slaves, political prisoners and criminals, who were brought to the country to perform involuntary labour.
The Dispersal of South End
Before the National Party came into power in 1948, South End and other parts of Port Elizabeth were very multi-cultural and multi-racial. Whites, coloureds, Indians, Chinese and Africans lived in harmony and intermingled with each other freely. There was no general feeling of racism or hatred, nor was there any desire for separateness or discrimination.
South End Museum portrays a society, a movement and a recovery that is symbolic of the struggle and victory of South Africa as a whole. For this reason, it is both relevant and influential to the further development of our country. The generation that will lead this country into future successes and true racial equality is (largely) yet to learn about the generations past as they enjoy the freedoms won through the immense battles of the previous generations.