Skip to main content
Share this:

Header image: View towards Lion’s Head, Cape Town, October 2023

Imagine having an amazing opportunity to learn about one of the most significant struggles in the history of humankind – the anti-apartheid struggle and the liberation of Southern Africa. That’s precisely what happened to us and our classmates at London Metropolitan University. We collaborated with the Liliesleaf Trust UK and their Anti-apartheid Legacy: Centre of Memory and Learning to create a series of posters that would be shown in a travelling exhibition called “Strength in Unity.” The exhibition commemorated the role of women in the anti-apartheid struggle, often undermined or completely ignored, and highlighted individual women in some of the movement’s key moments. 

In September 2022, each of us was commissioned to illustrate two posters – one with the portrait of an anti-apartheid woman activist and the other with an important event in their participation in the struggle. This gave us a unique opportunity to learn about apartheid and the struggle against it as well as in depth about our allocated activist, visiting the special archive from the university and researching relevant online anti-apartheid heritage sources. Little did we know…

Fast forward to October 2023, and thanks to the previous collaborations between these organisations and our university, Lucia and I were invited to travel to Cape Town to represent them at, and to help install, a joint exhibition at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. They were showing pieces from our exhibition “Strength in Unity” alongside “90 Voices Herstory”, a project curated by Charlene Houston for the Foundation where they interviewed women who were activists during apartheid.

From left to right: Alicia Alfonso, Nafees Floris, and Lucia Cáceres. “Strength in Unity” Exhibition, Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Cape Town. October, 2023. 

Alicia Alfonso and Lucia Cáceres. Setting up the exhibition. Desmond & Leah Tutu Foundation. Cape Town, October 2023.

“90 Voices Herstory” Exhibition, Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. Cape Town.

But it was not just about the exhibition – we would also be at Mama Leah’s birthday celebration, and we would get to visit Cape Town – a dream come true! The excitement was palpable, and we felt so lucky and happy we would get to visit the place we had researched so much about. 

Bo-Kaap Street, Cape Town, October 2023

“What an incredible experience! From being part of a significant event in South Africa to wandering around the streets of Cape Town, admiring the beauty of every person, shop, and tree.

It was amazing to be involved in setting everything up and see the different approaches to things. Everything felt so human. And then there was the ceremony itself. I was blown away by how much the people loved singing and dancing, and the traditional outfits were stunning. I even found myself in the same room as Leah Tutu! I had the pleasure of meeting wonderful people like Nafees, who not only made working at the exhibition fun, but also took us to many different places, everywhere from the beach to the top of the mountain.

I was amazed by his knowledge! He shared with us some fascinating insights into the history of everything we saw. It was like having a young South African David Attenborough as our guide.” Lucia Cáceres Alves.

This journey was not just a trip; it was a life-changing experience. South Africa is a country full of contrasts, culture, natural exuberance, and amazing people. I will never forget walking through the charming and colorful streets of the Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, appreciating the beauty of the place. But it wasn’t long before I saw the other side of the coin: the CBD with towering skyscrapers and people living in the streets trying to survive with nothing. This made me wonder whether they still face the consequences of apartheid even 30 years after it ended. Because the repercussions of such a barbaric system can’t be erased so easily. This experience was incredibly enlightening, as it reminded me of the struggle and how people united and fought together. It also emphasized the need to remember apartheid and its consequences. 

Written by Alicia Jara Alfonso Molina (BA, Illustration and Animation), and photos by Lucia Cáceres Alves (BA, Graphic Design) 3rd-year students at London Metropolitan University, January 2024

Share this: