Apartheid Museum Tweets ‘Dompas’ To Joburgers


The Apartheid Museum took advantage of the road closures that hampered Joburgers’ ability to move freely about their city yesterday during the 94.7 Cycle Challenge to launch a smart Twitter campaign.

Monitoring the twitter streams and trending conversations, it identified those people tweeting that they’d been inconvenienced by the road closures, and replied to their tweets with a message reminding them how freedom of movement was dramatically curtailed for the majority of South Africa’s people during the apartheid years.

This message included a page from a personalised dompas that was made for them using information from their social media profile, creating a replica of the pass book issued to every non-white over the age of 16 during the apartheid era.


This was followed by an invitation to visit the Apartheid Museum as a guest of its trustees and staff to learn more about the rise and fall of apartheid by viewing the provocative film footage, photographs, text panels and artefacts illustrating the events and human stories that are part of the epic saga.

“Every year on the day of the 94.7 Cycle Challenge, the Twitter stream is dominated by Joburgers expressing outrage over the inconvenience caused by the road closures. We wanted to offer these people a sense of perspective while raising the profile of the Apartheid Museum,” said Apartheid Museum Deputy Director, Wayde Davy.

“Using the basic information provided on people’s social media profiles, we sent them their own dompas to highlight that, while freedom of movement is today guaranteed under South Africa’s constitution for every citizen, there was a time when this was not the case for non-white South Africans.


“We hope that this prompted them to remember the inequalities of the past, and spurred them on the learn more,” he said.

The apartheid-era Pass Laws Act of 1952 stipulated that non-white South Africans over the age of 16 had to carry a passbook, which controlled their access to most parts of the country. Colloquially, passes were often called the dompas, literally meaning the ‘dumb pass’. The resistance to the Pass Law led to many thousands of arrests and was the spark that ignited the Sharpeville Massacre in March 1960.

The Apartheid Museum, the first of its kind, houses 22 individual exhibition areas and takes the visitor through a dramatic emotional journey that tells a story of a state-sanctioned system based on racial discrimination and the struggle of the majority to overthrow this tyranny.

The 94.7 Cycle Challenge attracts 35 000 cyclists and, to ensure the safety of both the cyclists as well as the residents, the City of Joburg, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, the Johannesburg Roads Agency and the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport implement total road closures on the day, including highways and major routes in and around the city.


AdFocus’s Small Agency of the Year 2015 and finalist for the 2016 award, OpenCo, was the agency behind the Apartheid Museum’s dompascampaign.


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