Day 12- Church & Township Tour in Khayelitsha

So compared to my other blog posts, this one is pretty naked considering I did not take any photos from my day. Why,  you ask? In short, people’s lives are not tourist attractions. Let me explain. 

First thing in the morning we attended church. When I first entered the church, I will say I was quite emotional. We were greeted at the door with welcoming hugs and walked to the back row to witness their song and praise time, which they did with complete abandon. I always admire people for their complete conviction of faith since I’ve been struggling with my own beliefs for so long. However, growing up in church and always having it in my life has given me an admiration for those who seem so strong in their faith. Although nothing prepared me for these women (there was approximately a 1:20 ratio of men to women with less than 10 men present- which is interesting in itself) completely investing their bodies and mind to singing and prayer. There was no concrete structure and people walked around as they prayed out loud in their respective language while the pastor would pray, switching between languages. So after being overwhelmed by their faith, we were asked to greet our neighbors and so many women gave me hugs, literally some of the most loving hugs I’ve received in my life. I really almost cried when a woman hugged me and it felt like my mother. The friendliness and ubuntu of South Africans will stay with me forever. I truly believe that I need to incorporate it into my own philosophy. Anyways, the pastor began to preach about developing good Christian character, in which he focused on education, overcoming fear, achievement, and then how those things lead to wealth. So he had me until he started talking about wealth and a billionaire he knows. So 1. Isn’t it like a Christian principle to not accumulate an exorbitant amount of wealth because you should be giving it to the less fortunate? And 2. In speaking to people that live in a township marked by extreme poverty with a sprinkle of middle class, why preach about figures such at 300 million rand? So nonetheless, I was very turned off by that part of his message, but the atmosphere and love I was shown was so welcoming. 

From the church, we started our walking tour throughout the township. We were immediately told it was okay to take pictures. The moment our tour guide said that I was immediately uncomfortable because this meant taking pictures of the locals and their homes, most of which were shanties which could be informal or formal settlements, like their lives were a tourist attraction. So what we did is basically walk down the street and enter random businesses or people’s homes to stare for 2 minutes and then leave. Imagine a foreign tourist group walking through your neighbor knocking on your door asking to come in to see your home and take pictures like you and your family are a spectacle to behold. Not only would this NOT happen in the United States, but it immediately created a hierarchy between us as a majority white privileged group observing a black township marked by poverty. Despite my discomfort over this dynamic, these people were kind enough to let us into their homes and briefly talk to us, which did give us insight to their situation. I do think our tour guide was trying to prove that the people in the township are human and it shouldn’t be perceived as a negative area. Nonetheless, barging into the homes of locals and taking pictures of them in their home like they’re an exhibit is not a type of tourism I believe is ethical or beneficial to creating a world of equitable human treatment. Furthermore, we also felt like we were on display as an attraction for the locals. As a blonde white woman, I am a rare sight to see in that area, so when a little girl in church hugged me and held onto my hair I didn’t mind because she was probably innocently curious about the texture. What I did mind is being ushered into a barber shop filled with men where they stared at us, asked whether we had boyfriends and made gestures as we left. I was concerned for Kyra when she was asked to take a picture with a man who called her an angel, grabbed her hair and tried to hold her hand while taking a picture. The whole experience felt exploitative from both sides. So while I am grateful for the spur of the moment hospitiality and kindess of the locals, I very much preferred the experience of Soweto in which we were explicitly invited into the home of locals to share a meal and converse with one another. I got to see the inside of shanty homes and I felt their kindess in Khayelitsha, but I had more of an experience learning about the local sentiments and customs in Soweto by getting to know the women through fellpwship. I completely believe that the township experience should be intimate rather than a spectacle. This day definitely aroused questions of ethics surrounding tourism. 

Day 11- Table Mountain/ Bo-Kaap/ Malay Cooking Class

Picture 1: View from Table Mountain

Picture 2: Bo-Kaap neighborhood

Picture 3: Helping make dinner in Jasmina’s cooking class

So this morning we went to the top of Table Mountain, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, thankfully by cable car considering that it makes Lion’s head look minature. From the top, you could see Robben Island, Lion’s Head, and the city center of Cape Town. It was cool to see the locations we’ve visited come together at the top of Table Mountain.

After Table Mountain, we visited Bo-Kaap, a historically colored neighborhood in Cape Town. The ancestors of those who live in Bo-Kaap were Indonesian or Malaysian (South Asian) people who were brought to South Africa as slaves for the Dutch. These people, assimilated to their new lives in South Africa, married and had children with white and black people. Thus, the colored population was created. Bo-Kaap sits on the side of a mountain and is most recognizable by the colorful houses. From our tour, I took away that one of the most important aspects of the Bo-Kaap community was the predominant Islamic faith. The Islamic faith is embedded in the culture of the neighborhood, so much so, that when a Christian couple moved into the area they were told to keep certain activities, such as drinking, inside their home as to not misdirect or influence the youth of Bo-Kaap. Not only did Ismael, our tour guide, mention this story, but on several occassions he commented that all people are welcome in Bo-Kaap, but they have to respect the neighborhood’s way of life. It also seemed that Ismael blamed the influence of Western culture for infiltrating their Eastern dynamic. Now, it’s interesting to hear the narrative that people in a certain place with a certain way of living will be friendly neighbors as long as their neighbors respect their religion and culture because it has been used countlessly by xenophobics and racists. Nonetheless, I understand that the community is trying to hold on to their normal way of life that conveniently revolves around their religion, which in many ways, especially by the Western world, is being attacked. It would be nice for this community to continue to vibrantly represent a religion and a group of people stigmatized so often. I believe our tour guide emphasizing the understanding of their personal culture was simply to explain how important the sustainment of their culture is to them.

We were then lucky enough to experience this culture further by attending a Malaysian cooking class in the home of Jasmina, a colored District 6 women rellocated to the Bo-Kaap neighborhood. As a person who never eats South Asian food, the only thing I can remember that we had was chicken curry, however; she taught us to make so much more and I will happily report that it wasn’t too bad! What I liked most about the experience, other than the most amazing cranberry juice, was that it was her father that taught her to cook when she was a little girl growing up in District 6. All of us were shocked to hear that during that time period her father would be a stay at home dad during the winters while her mother worked in a factory. The patriarchy can be subverted in the oddest, but sweetest of places! More generally, I believe what we’ve learned, also in regards to the women of Soweto, is that you can’t claim to have been somewhere or to have experienced the culture unless you’ve been blessed to receive the hospitality and kindness of local people, especially over a meal. The women in Soweto and Jasmina made this trip so much more intimate and special. 

Day 10- Aquila Game Drive/ Long Street

We had an amazing time at Aquila Game Reserve for the whole day. We were treated to good food, some took advantage of the spa amenities offered, and most of all, the ability to be close (but not too close) and observe some of the most adored animals on the planet. We were really lucky to see most of the animals quite clearly, especially the elephants and giraffes. Our tour guide also made perfect timing so that we could get a glimpse at the lions before they took their naps between rocks. Our animated tour guide would explain the ages of each animal, how long their gestation periods were, and then often another fun fact. Once we did get to the lions, he briefly explained that the lions were rescued from canned hunting, but I believe that there were rescue overtures for all the animals. Unfortunately, such magestic and prized animals are often hunted down for “sport,” which has left too many animal species endangered. Therefore, without meaning too, our tour guide explained how their game reserve was not primarily about making money off safaris, although money is always involved, but rather about perserving animal life. People often critique any form of captivity for wild animals, which is understandable, especially with our tendancy to humanize animals, but places like Aquila have to encage these animals in order to protect them from humans. It doesn’t seem to have a complete win-win option. Nonethless, I was memorized by the animals and I loved the facilities at Aquila. 
I also went out with some of the group to a place called Long Street, which is basically just a long strip of shopping, restaurants, and bars. It is a highly culturally concentrated area as, for example, one block could encompass African, Eastern, and Irish themes. As I love to dance, we were looking out for the best music options at each place. Often in the United States, house music, or some would call it EDM, is associated with white people rather than black. Therefore, it was interesting to notice that in this area of South Africa the places white people would gravitate towards would be playing Western rap and hip hop while places black, colored, etc. were going would be playing some form of house music, sometimes including songs I was familiar with from the States. In order to step out of our Western world, we decided to go to a place that was predominately playing South African house music. It was a perfect choice and we had a great time!

Day 9- Parliment/ District 6 Museum/ Lion’s Head Hike

Picture 1: Zulu women beaded this “hippo”

Picture 2: Inside the District 6 Museum

 Picture 3: Maya and I on top of Lion’s Head

Our day started with a tour of Parliament. The tour guide was mildly erratic, but we all enjoyed him because of his knowledge of the United States system, which he used to better explain the South African system. A few years back I toured the United Kingdom’s Parliament and I found that the Old Assembly, which they built to satisfy their governance of South Africa, was similar in style. Our tour guide also made reference to how Britain and South Africa’s governments operate congruently to this day. When having a democratic government, it can manifest itself in several ways, for which the “right” way (if it’s the “right” system to begin with) is debatable. For instance, in the United States, especially after the election, people have commented on the antiquated use or undemocratic process of the electoral college. Likewise, in democratic South Africa, I found their system in opposition to democratic principles because the people vote for a party rather than a candidate. From what I’m grasping about South African politics, that’s how the country ended up with President Zuma, to the distaste of most South Africans I’ve asked. Therefore, the argument could be made that both countries skew democracy to fit politics. The United States has representation of the hand picked and South Africa appeals to parties rather than leaders. Oh, the irony.
After our tour of Parliment, eating at an Eastern Bazaar (really cool place, but I got the wrong thing), and seeing a “hippo” made of beads, we went to the District 6 museum. District 6, similar to Sophiatown, was declared an all-white neighborhood and other black, colored, etc. were forcible removed from their homes. Noor, our tour guide, was among those removed. I loved his personal stories giving insight to his experience, especially as he detailed how District 6, prior to apartheid, proved that such a diverse community can be a vibrant, inclusive, and welcoming neighborhood. He often used the statement when describing the neighborhood and Mandela that they “didn’t see color.” I’m a bit apprehensive of that saying since so often it has been equated to colorblindness. I don’t believe Noor meant it that way at all, but rather since then, people have twisted it to hide their racism. These days, we need to see color, but still have the ability to emulate the understanding and community of District 6 prior to the removals. Noor, in his 70’s, is still on the waitlist to return to his home. 

After the museum and experiencing the world’s best coffee shop of 2015, we hiked Lion’s Head. Now I say hike, but I also mean rock climbed, went up ladders, and clung to chains in order to reach the top. I’ll sum it up by quoting Prosper, “It was tough, but we were tougher.” It was a triumphant end to a busy day.

Day 8- Cape Point/ Penguin Colony/ Jenny Eaves Folk Concert

Picture 1: Cape Point, the furthest south-western point of the African continent

Picture 2: Baboon LITERALLY 3 feet away from me

Picture 3: African Penguins (picture is orangeish due to the smoke and ash coming from the fires in the Cape)

For the first part of our day, we travelled to Cape Point, or more commonly referenced as the Cape of Good Hope, in which we climbed the rocks and pretty much hiked to the second oldest light house on the continent. As a lover of history, it was quite an outer body experience to realize I was literally standing at the end of the African continent. I was continually trying to visualize the confrontations Portuguese and Dutch explorers had with the area and even the perceptions of the wildlife as it’s had to adjust over history. To me, it’s always quite thrilling to be in such a historical concentrated environment and it always entices me to explore or wonder of the individual experiences. 

It was from there that we went and saw the African Penguin colony, but what was truly on my mind was the overwhelmimg smoke in the air and the ash falling from a fire nearby. This morning we woke up and saw from our window the billowing smoke of a fire started due to dry conditions. This is an annual occurance that plagues Cape Town. From American forest fires we know they can be good for the ecology, which is also true in Cape Town. However, it’s tragic that these fires devastate animal life and people’s homes, especially those in the townships. So after about 45 minutes of withstanding the smoke and ash, we decided it was best to leave the area, which was perfect timining as the fire had already reached the road, people were prepared to evacuate, and roads were closing. It was overwhelming to just briefly witness the fire, so I can’t imagime being impacted and involved. So please keep the area in mind as I can still see flames from my window. 

On a better note, we also had the privilege of having a Folk singer/songwriter from Cape Towm come to our team house and perform an intimate concert of her songs imvested in her perspectives of the South African experience. So as a white South African woman, Jenny Eaves still exemplified the same liberal social justice narrative we’ve been hearing and was very conscious of other South Africans’ experiences. She was very forthright in establishing her position and privilege in conjunction with her art to embody the traditional folk music purpose of spreading the news. All of us enjoyed and were moved by her music. I could very much identify with her in that as white women we have an identity that is oppressed, but we are not always intersectional beings that understand those specific social dynamics, yet we still dedicate our energy into that activism. I had mentioned earlier in the trip in group conversation how in my Women Studies classes I tend to listen rather than speak when the topic is intersectionality because I feel it is not my place to interject on that which I can never fully understand. So it was incredible when Jenny literally almost said the exact same thing in that she also emphasized the importance of listening when addresses issues that are not our own. So what I really grasped from her was her honesty about her perspective and how she fits into South Africa as a white woman in the social justice arena, but also empathy for the struggles of other people in South Africa. I took away that her intentions were to promote awareness of the different circumstances in South Africa and also expressed the importance of creating a constant, united, and inclusive front.

Day 7- Franschhoek Winelands/ Daily Disagreements

Picture 1: Solms Delta Winery
Today was a cultural adventure into the winelands of the Cape, a place that made me feel like I was travelling into a European countryside. While at the Solms Delta Winery, we had a brief introduction to the history of the vineyard and its contradictingly competitive, but cooperative relationship with the government. Also, some of the workers who grew up on the farm were indigenous South African people, a group that was never even recognized by the apartheid government as a race classification. After tasting their wine, even a wine that was on the list of 1,001 wines you have to taste before you die, we had a picnic lunch by a creek that was quite hot, but nonethless, lovely. After that, we continued further into Franschhoek to see the Huguenot monument dedicated to the French settlers that came to South Africa for religious freedom (but had to give up speaking their language.. So like.. More oppression?) and established the winelands. Lastly we drove past the 3rd and last prison where Nelson Mandela served his 27 years and where he was released in 1990. 

However, what was most enlightening about my day was the conversations I was involved in with Prosper, our guide and friend, on the way to the winelands, and a conversation that was brought up during dinner with Danielle, an American female missionary, who has lived in South Africa for 8 years and lives in the team house. Both conversations had interesting parallels to our respective cultural attitudes. 

In the car for the long drive we asked Prosper, recently engaged, about marriage traditions he has had to uphold and about his upcoming wedding. So based on his culture, he had to pay a dowry to his future bride’s family, but as a Christian man he will have a ceremony that reflects his religion. Anyways, the conversation went on about marriages and the institution in America and Prosper made a comment to the effect of “divorce would not happen as frequently if there was a head of the household,” the head being a man. As the feminist I am, I immediately launched into a rebuttal of his statement. After a little back and forth, I decided to back off a little thinking that maybe in some way I’m being disrespectful of his cultural traditions, like giving a dowry. However, I then realized I’ve had the SAME conversations with white, Hispanic, and black American men. So what this conversation demonstrated to me was the partiarchy alive and well on a reflective international scale. While Prosper tried to defend his statements by explaining that it wasn’t as dominanting and hierarchial as I was making it sound, he didn’t quite grasp what I and most of the other women in my group were explaining as the damaging and limiting space marriage can be for women in respect to his “head of household” narrative. In the end, no limbs or friendships were lost, but I did come away with the awareness that the Feminist movement truly  needs no country borders, the harmful effects of masculine expectations need to be deconstructed, and EDUCATION about the subject should be on the international agenda.

Now at dinner, a couple from the Netherlands also staying in the house asked about current social movements in South Africa since it’s our area of study. My professor mentioned the student protests against rising university fees over the past year and a half. It was at that moment that Danielle wanted to clarify that the fees aren’t that bad and students (or the fake student protestors she mentioned??) simply want everything to be free, but “nothing in life is free.” As Americans, we’ve heard the condescending critques of our generation, but I was completely thrown off to hear it from a missionary (don’t they help people in need?) who has lived in South Africa for 8 years having firsthand experience and learning of the economic turmoil in South Africa and the major wealth discrepancies inflicting the black/colored/indian people within the townships. I immediately thought of our meeting with the Soweto women and one mother explaining how difficult it was to try to support her son’s education, especially since his intellect could see him through medicial school, their poverty could not. Not only is this unequal economic situation a result of apartheid sanctions, but it also effected the educational levels of the township people. So now, in a post-apartheid era, township students are striving for higher levels of education to overcome their forced economic and social situations while Universities are continuing to burden and exacerbate their struggle. So yea, these students perfectly understand that “nothing in life is free,” but maybe their access to higher education really should be. I did not say anything to her about my feelings, although I felt the same disagreeing energy around me, but I definitely felt like her white American privilege was spilling over into the context of discussion. It was interesting to observe and participate in these much needed discussions. 


Day 6- V & A Waterfront/ Robben Island/ Lionel DavisĀ 

Picture 1: Beautiful view at V&A Waterfront

Picture 2: Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island for 18 years

Picture 3: Group photo with ex-political prisoner of Robben Island, Lionel Davis

I will quickly begin by noting that the V&A Waterfront is very beautiful and quite the mixture of African and European cultures. It was a nice break from the constant intake of information before and after Robben Island. 

That being said, I want to really dedicate this post to my experience touring Robben Island and our dinner/ discussion with Lionel Davis. I believe what struck me the most about my tour on Robben Island, being led by an ex-political prisoner of the 80’s, and listening to Lionel Davis, an ex-political prisoner of the 60’s-early 70’s,  is the humanness of their experiences and motivations. Often, especially in reference to Nelson Mandela, we tend to uphold these freedom fighters as some supernatural resisting force rather than the average South African citizen that loved their country, culture, people, and selves. When our tour guide was asked by Professor Ferguson what kept him going through time in the isolation cells and general conditions of imprisonment, he replied by saying, “I would tell myself that I am a Freedom Fighter and what I’m doing is right. That’s it.” To the same question, Lionel explained that it was the support from his diverse prison community, other South Africans continuing to resist, and solidarity internationally. Our morals and our support systems are what motivate everyday life, but I learned today that they can also sustain a revolution. Our tour guide and Lionel also explained that Robben Island was a place of comradery and learning. The prisoners would practice ballroom dancing, participate in stand up comedies, and earn their educations in the confines of their single or community cells. Their efforts to exercise their minds, embolden their passion in the movement, or simply their need to laugh was not stiffled by their predicaments, but rather reinvigorated by them. I shook the hands of two political prisoners today and I was filled with their humanity. I walked into today thinking it was going to be another rough one to handle, and it was difficult to listen to the torture and inhumane conditions of the prisons, but I mostly heard the stories of survivors and their decades of continuous hope. 

I would also like to comment on Robben Island as a place of memorial. Rather I would argue that the ex-political prisoners as our tour guides are the memorial, simply discussing a specific place. If our tour had been given by any other person, our afternoon would’ve simply been a tour of a prison. I would not have had the sense of healing and hope that Robben Island possesses. In comparing it to the Old Fort prison in Johannesburg, where I had a constant sob in my throat from the isolation cells and the pictured cruelty, Robben Island had those same visuals, but it also had our guide, standing as a free man telling of his triumph and the triumph of his nation. They are the same type of place with similiar conditions, but in remembering that the goals of these places, as laid out by the new democratic government, was reconciliation and the goal of healing a nation through memorialization, the prevailing example points to the tour guides as the realization of that aim. 

However, there is one exception, also on Robben Island, which is the rock pile Nelson Mandela started in the lime quarry when he returned to the island as President. By simply stacking those rocks, the rocks he and his fellow comrades laborred over for years in horrid conditions, on his own volition and then the other ex-prisoners following suit, is, to me, the purest example of a memorial I’ve seen thus far. That action symbolizes the new governments promise to act on behalf of their struggle and triumph to rebuild a nation. That is hope. That is healing. That is moving forward through recognizing the past. It’s literally a pile of rocks, but the simplicity of that as a memorial accomplishes or at least emphasizes South Africa’s (idealized) projection as a nation recovering from the apartheid era.  

Day 5- Arts on Main/ Traveling to Cape Town

Picture 1: Art display in I Was Shot In Joburg in Maboneng

Picture 2: Interactive wall art along a street in Maboneng, which suits me well.

Picture 3: View from our beach house in Cape Town, the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.

This morning we admired and shopped at a place called Arts on Main in Maboneng, Johannesburg. This place has been considered the “Brooklyn” of South Africa and is noticeably the up and coming hipster location. The shops, aesthetic, and art were incredible. I was able to purchase a post-modern portrait of Nelson Mandela and a print of a photograph taken of wall art that says “write the future.” I should explain where my second piece of art came from because it truly represents the actual community and the people rather than a cute hipster hang out. I got it from a studio called I Was Shot In Joburg. This project originated from a community service outreach program to teenage orphans in the area. Embittered by their circumstances, these students were asked to find beauty in the place they lived. Therefore, the studio is dedicated to that project and all the photographs are from those students. I wanted to buy everything. Not only does this project give these children a way to creatively expressed themselves, it’s a way for them to find their own light in their own situation. Coincidently, most of the photographs were of graffiti and wall art spread across almost every building in their community. I chose to get “write the future” because not only does in apply to my love of reading/writing and even history, as we need to learn from it and move forward, but also because the entire project is about an opportunity for these kids to have agency in their lives. In such a devastating circumstance, this project gives them a way to show how their creativity and perspective of their community matters. I’m grateful to have this reminder of their light and optimism. 

After enjoying the culture of Maboneng, we headed to the airport to fly to Cape Town. All week I’ve been told that Cape Town is much different than Johannesburg, but my expectations were no where near what I thought. I should preface by saying that I do love Johannesburg, I got a clear sense of the history and loved visiting the people in the surrounding townships. However, Cape Town is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It is because of its beauty that  I’m wondering if the struggles of it’s people and the history are covered more than in Johannesburg. In Johannesburg, it’s impossible to hide the ongoing segregation and wealth disparity, but Cape Town has seemed lavish in comparison. Although, when driving to the team house I did see shanty communities. Simply put, my first impression is that segregaation and wealth disparity may be more dramatic in Cape Town so much so that from my accomodations this place seems like paradise when I know from the situation of the entire nation that that is not the case.

Day 4- Sophiatown/ Liliesleaf Farm

Picture 1: Photograph taken in Sophiatown during the forced removals of black people within the community. This message was on most of their homes.

Picture 2: Mural of Trevor Huddleston, a white British priest, who actively fought in the resistance. He is painted black to honor his role. 

Today, plagued by torrential rain, we went to Sophiatown and Liliesleaf Farm. Prior to apartheid, Sophiatown was a diverse community. However, in order to enforce apartheid, whites, coloreds, indians, and blacks needed to be separated. Therefore, based on the racism of apartheid, blacks living in Sophiatown were forcibly removed from their homes and beloved community. Most of their homes and businesses were demolished in the process. We were able to visit one home of a respected black doctor, who because of his class was able to sell his home rather than be stripped of it. Also, interestingly, we learned of a white woman in Sophiatown who had a relationship with a black man during the beginning stages of apartheid. Interracial realationships and the children of such were illegal during this time so in order to keep her children she appealed to the courts that she was black by speaking Zulu rather than English. She is the only person to ever “demote” her racial status and disregard that privilege. As a woman proud of my own interracial relationship, I admired her. Also, we learned about Trevor Huddleston, a British South African priest witihin Sophiatown, who actively fought in the resistance against apartheid, so much so that he was exiled by the government. A painted mural of him walking through Sophiatown with children depicts him as black because the community views him as an honorary black man for his service. 

In the afternoon we visited Liliesleaf, a farm owned by a white family, that was used as the underground resistance’s headquarters. Once the ANC was banned from apartheid South Africa, those members such as Mandela, Tambo, and Sisulu, we forced to continue their efforts secretly. The police got wind of their operation and arrested the members at the farm (Mandela was not there because he was already serving a 5 year term for other “crimes”). The evidence found at Liliesleaf was substantial enough to sentence Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu and others to life imprisonment in the famous Rivonia trials. This museum is located throughout the orginial buildings they used in the resistance. Furthermore, it goes on to disclose other underground mission operations such as smuggling bombs in safari vehicles and in suitcases to breaking out of prison. This whole trip we’ve gotten the anti-apartheid perspective from multiple sources and the apartheid perspective only from the government justifications so it was interesting to listen to the interview of the guard who helped resistance prisoners escape. He was bribed to help them, but was caught by his superior and therefore, he served jail time. In the interview decades later, he said he was sorry for disappointing his superiors, his parents, and his country, which in a post-apartheid society is difficult to hear and understand. It made me ponder whether the white population values the democratic state or since most people lived through it, they still hold on to apartheid principles. After discussing with the group, it seems or we think it seems to be slowly fading as the older generations pass on and the new generations emerge, much like the United States. (We hope). 

Day 3- Apartheid Museum/ Soweto Township

Picture 1: Memorial tombstone (actually buried somewhere else) of Nelson Mandela at his home in Soweto. Instead of rest in peace, it means return if possible, father. 

Picture 2: In order, Prosper, me, Lindiwe 

This morning we visited the Apartheid Museum. Like yesterday, it was a very much an emotional experience. It encapsulated most of what we had been hearing from our other tour guides the past few days so while it was much of the same information I was shown more in depth evidence of the liberation struggle. The most fascinating exhibit to me was dedicated to Nelson Mandela and his experiences and choices throughout his entire life. I was surprised to learn that Nelson Mandela and the ANC party were closely affiliated with the Communist Party. While most in the ANC members were skeptical of Communism and valued democracy, Nelson Mandela understood and adopted some of the values of Communism, such as a more proportional distribution of wealth and government assistance. However, when I asked Professor Ferguson about the relationship between the two parties, she also noted that the ANC had asked the United States for assistance in their struggle, but were denied. Therefore, the Communist Party became an ally to their movement and influenced Nelson Mandela’s views, which carried over into his presidency.

After the museum, we visited the black township called Soweto. Soweto was a township created outside of Johannesburg as a place the apartheid government could segregate the white population from the black. Therefore, as a historically all black neighborhood oppressed under the institution of apartheid, Soweto has several problems. Kind women from the community invited us into their home so that we were able to eat and talk with the locals about the problems facing their community/country including the wealth disparity, xenophobia, and racism post-apartheid. Towards the end, we talked individually with these kind women and they gave each of us Zulu names. Lindiwe, the owner of the house, dubbed me Nomfundo, which roughly translates to lover of books/knowledge or more generally, Mother of Education. Prosper, our guide for our entire trip and a migrant from Zimbabwe, helped her name me. Ergo, since this was so amazing and suits me so well, I probably won’t answer to Catey anymore.

After our communion, we ventured further into Soweto to visit Nelson Mandela’s home where the ANC was actually participating in their 105th anniversary celebration that President Zuma attended about 30 minutes before we arrived. What was more important to me, however; was that up the street from Mandela’s home is where Hector Pieterson, a young school boy, was killed by the police during the Soweto student uprisings in 1976. The students protested in response to the apartheid government’s efforts to institutionalize Afrikaans as the language of learning. Therefore, not only were the students’ cultures and histories not represented in their education, but were set up to fail since their education was not in their language. This impacted me since I want to be a teacher and causes me to reflect on how I can or any classroom could be more inclusive and reflective of their students. While the Soweto uprising was a tragic and extreme example, it evokes concerns and critiques how narrow education systems can still be, presently.