New Brighton, Port Elizabeth

New Brighton is Port Elizabeth's oldest existing township, north of the CBD and just east of Algoa Park. It is historically relevant having come through the apartheid years, and as such, has a museum and other interesting highlights to visit.

The Red Location Museum is one of these. Representing the struggle years specific to Nelson Mandela Bay, its exhibits remember the people, places and action that happened in New Brighton. It occupies the site of the first Umkhonto we Sizwe branch in the country, which started in the township. Its unusual architecture, by Noero Wolff Architects, won several international awards, but not only the building is different. The museum itself adopts a rather unusual format. The floor space is divided into a number of 'memory boxes', each telling the life story or perspective of people who fought against apartheid.

As a visitor, there is no clear beginning or end to these boxes, and no obvious hierarchy or order, so you are free to walk in amongst them as you see fit. Each memory box is covered in corrugated metal sheeting in similar vein to the shacks of New Brighton, but it's also a play on the boxes used by migrant workers who used to keep their possessions in metal boxes whilst separated from their families.

The name Red Location stems directly from this ('location' is an apartheid era term to describe townships). Each box's identity is only revealed once inside, and the area between the boxes is regarded as space for reflection.

There is also the Mendi Memorial worth visiting in New Brighton to commemorate the SS Mendi, which transported the 'Native Labour Corps' to France during WWI. The ship was struck by another ship in thick fog just off the coast of Plymouth and many of the crew died.

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