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The Constitutional Court and More

April 10.

As our flight does not leave until 8PM, I hire Freedom to drive Stan and me around for the day, and then drop us at the airport.

Our first stop is the Constitutional Court, where, Albie Sachs, a former Justice, has arranged for us to be given a tour by two young assistant curators, Francois and Thina, here posing in front of the Freedom Dancers sculpture outside the building.

The building is an amalgam of art and justice, due in large part, to Albie’s influence. No detail is overlooked and every piece is connected to the Court’s commitment to the equality of all people as reflected in the South African constitution. Outside the court building is a sign saying Constitutional Court in each of the eleven official languages of South Africa.

The fonts on the above sign have been specially-designed to reflect the people’s they represent. Francois and Thina are extremely knowledgeable about all of the pieces, their artists and how they relate to the Court’s mission. The works are diverse and, in many cases controversial.Most all of the pieces displayed have been donated to the Court by the artists. The building is modern, architecturally interesting and engaging. Even the men’s room that abuts the justices’ chambers reflects a commitment to equality, regardless of rank. Here is the courtroom.

The court is located on Constitution Hill, a hill that used to be a fort and a prison (actually four separate prisons, that housed Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Ghandi, among others). Today there is a modern building that serves as a women’s jail. We could easily have spent the day there, but had to settle for two hours.

We stop by to pick up some South African fabric that Stan wants to make into ties, then continue to Amatuli, a huge gallery that contains art work of all kinds, a bit overwhelming. We have lunch nearby.

We continue to Liliesleaf Farm, the place where South African colonial police captures about ten ANC leaders who were meeting and planning sabotage operations. The raid led to convictions of many who were sent to Robben Island. The place is very interesting historically and has a wealth of material, which, unfortunately is not displayed or organized in a way to allow one to grasp everything. Still, it was worth a visit and, if we’d had a good guide and it wasn’t at the tail end of the trip, we might well have enjoyed it a great deal more.

From here, Freedom drives us to the airport, with a good three and a half hours to spare before our flight. Time to blog and eat in the airline club (though Stan is unable to join me there).

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