In reflection of the turbulent history South Africa has experienced before transformation, which even overlapped into the transport industry, the James Hall Museum of Transport commemorated the heroes of this particular struggle with its “Azikhwelwa" exhibition at the Workers Museum in Newtown.
Meaning “We shall not ride", “Azikhwelwa" was a defiance campaign that left its stamp on contemporary society when people absconded from riding on public transport in the 1957 Bus Boycotts in Alexandra Township as buses travelled empty along routes while endless streams of walkers filled pavements.
Proceedings were opened by Workers Museum Manager Belinda Hlaka, who said: “This prestigious event is meant to remind us of who we are and how far we have come as a people in transport and labour migration."
The dispute between residents and the then oppressive government stemmed from the introduction of the Native Land Act in 1912, which dictated that black people could not own land, causing residents to embark on a revolt against the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and making the government succumb to their demands as masses walked in rainy weather to school and work.
“Alexandra is by far the biggest recipient of rural migration and was home to many all-time greats like Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, legendary musician Caiphus Semenya, football administrator Irvin Khoza, the late Hugh Masekela and Nelson Mandela himself. It is important to acknowledge it instead of treating it like that stepson of Johannesburg," said Mpho Motsumi, the President of the Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce.
In closing, James Hall Museum Curator Fhatuwani Rambau said: “We kindly thank everyone for being here today and sharing this historically rich session with us where we see the journey we have travelled in order to get to where we are today."