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.