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//hapo Print this webpage e-Mail a link to this webpage

An interactive exhibition space where the story of Southern Africa, dating back 3.6 billion years, will unfold in narrative and visual form.

The name //hapo means ‘dream’, which has been drawn from a Khoi proverb “//hapo ge //hapo tama /haohasib dis tamas ka i bo” that translates into “A dream is not a dream until it is shared by the entire community.”

As with the other elements in Freedom Park, //hapo was designed to blend into the landscape, rather than impose on it. By sculpting the building frames using steel structures and overlaying them with copper, //hapo was shaped to resemble boulders.

Within //hapo, the history of our region is brought to life as each story is revealed in layers, creating a sense of wonderment and curiosity. It is a place where the historical, cultural and spiritual past of South Africa comes alive – a place where people are able to reach a new understanding of a complex past, explore the diversity that is South Africa and create shared dreams for the future.

It is envisaged that the permanent exhibitions will be structured around social spaces that allow for live interpretation, performance and storytelling. In future, many of the exhibitions will include a selection of cultural and historical objects that can be handled, discussed or used, transforming the visitor from a spectator to a participant.


Through the promotion of indigenous knowledge, //hapo aims to emphasise the creativity, inventiveness, resilience and spirit of our people, thereby emancipating the African voice. Our rich and colourful history unfolds in seven epochs (eras):

Epoch 1: The Earth
This epoch explores the beginning of things, through an African story of creation about how the universe came to be. Certain societies ascribe creation to a single creator, whilst others credit the multiplicity of creators or natural forces. In recent times, the scientific approach enjoys a large following. These different interpretations have evolved to describe and interpret the world. In this epoch, the scientific story will go back 3.6 billion years ago by exploring the earliest forms of life in southern Africa and the geological origin of the land itself. Africa has some of the oldest rocks on earth and is composed of some of the oldest recorded continental crust.

Epoch 2: Ancestors
This epoch explores the concept of ancestors from both a physical and spiritual perspective. From a physical perspective it investigates the way in which early humans managed to develop a sense of control over their environment. On another level, there is recognition of ancestors throughout the ages based on interpretive rationalities, a spiritual component inherent in human beings. This is evident through burial ceremonies and other cultural practices, for instance, the channels that have been created to communicate with those who have departed from this earth.

Epoch 3: Peopling
This epoch seeks to address the notion of pre-conquest societies in Africa as historical; that as societies, they experienced historical change. This epoch therefore showcases African innovations throughout the ages within the spheres of science, culture and spirituality. The diverse records tell us that for more than 4,000 years, communities on the continent had evolved their own cultures, languages, spirituality and the means of creating and sustaining life.

Epoch 4: Resistance and Colonisation
This epoch tells the story of the major historical forces that gave birth to modern South Africa - a country born out of centuries of subjugation, exploitation and conflict. The arrival of the colonialists in the mid to late 1400s brought with it a way of life that would change the relationship of African people and their land and cultures. Colonialism brought about forms of subjugation, separation and exploitation that ignited a fierce resistance struggle that took on many forms, eventually leading to the demise of the apartheid state.

Epoch 5: Industrialisation and Urbanisation
This epoch deals with the story of large scale exploitation of minerals during the period of colonisation and its impact on the indigenous industries and settlement patterns. This story will be told from the vantage point of the labour issue – the coercive and violent ways in which the African workforce was created. The story goes further and focuses also on how the workers developed and struggled to survive the onslaught on their humanity.

Epoch 6: Nationalisms and Struggle
This epoch focuses on the contesting forces of white state formation and the struggle for a democratic society as the backdrop to the birth of the new South Africa. The creation and consolidation of white power was not a uniform or straightforward process. The pact between Boer and Brit, between white capital and the racist white government, matured slowly through spirited political debate, protracted negotiations and concessions which paved the way for apartheid and the South Africa that took shape in 1948.

Epoch 7: Nation Building and Continent Building
In this epoch the visitor will engage with the story of the reclamation of the myriad of different freedoms that is ensconced with the Constitution of South Africa. It is a story that begins during the last decade of the 20th century and explores the transition from the tyranny of apartheid rule to a constitutional democracy.

By relaying the history of our region from an African prospective, we dip into the deep wells of African indigenous knowledge as well as reservoirs of contemporary western scientific knowledge. //hapo is thus a fusion of African knowledge and western scientific knowledge that tells us what happened here, on the southern tip of the African continent.

Scheduled for completion in 2012, //hapo will be a place for the South African community to dream dreams together and to know which dreams to follow as we invent ourselves as a society.

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