WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center hosting Apartheid exhibit

The exhibit “From Apartheid to Democracy” includes this iconic photograph of Nelson Mandela looking through the bars of his Robben Island jail cell that was taken by German documentary photographer Jurgen Schadeberg. Mandela later became South Africa’s first democratically elected president. (Photo provided courtesy of Levine Museum of the New South.)

The exhibit “From Apartheid to Democracy” includes this iconic photograph of Nelson Mandela looking through the bars of his Robben Island jail cell that was taken by German documentary photographer Jurgen Schadeberg. Mandela later became South Africa’s first democratically elected president. (Photo provided courtesy of Levine Museum of the New South.)

An exhibit that traces South Africa’s struggle to end Apartheid will be on display through Friday, May 20, at Western Carolina University.

Created by the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, the exhibit “From Apartheid to Democracy” is on view in the Mountain Heritage Center’s second-floor gallery in Hunter Library. The heritage museum is hosting the exhibit as part of WCU’s two-year interdisciplinary learning theme “Africa! More than a Continent.”

In addition to looking at the struggle to end Apartheid, the legal basis for the segregation and brutal mistreatment of South Africa’s people of color, the exhibit focuses on the country’s transition to democracy and explains parallels with the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., said Pam Meister, curator and interim director at the Mountain Heritage Center.

April 1994 was a historical watershed for South Africa because it marked the end of the Apartheid era and dawn of a new democratic order, Meister said. The exhibit’s text and images show the similarities between the American South and the South African experience, and how each addresses legacies of poverty and racism, she said.

The Mountain Heritage Center gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call the museum at 828-227-7129.