Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Southern Africa: Bots with My Mom, and SA with fellow Hoyas
The title says it all. During the last month of July I got the opportunity to explore Southern Africa with my best friend (my mom). My mom gave me a fresh look at Botswana and coming back felt like home. It was a weird feeling to see my house in Bots and breathe a sigh of relief. Botswana is a relaxing place and I had forgotten that with work.
Visiting South Africa was fun and insightful. I was able (after three tries and canceled ferries) to visit Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island. The tour was led by an ex-political prisoner. Words can't really describe how much I learned about life and perseverance. It's one thing to hear that someone spent 20 plus years in jail. It's another to walk into their cell and hear stories of the physical and emotional trials people went through to change a system. It was a good way to end the summer as I am looking into going into law school and public interest work. I needed to (I think we all do--those interested in work to help others) visit the places where our heroes were in their darkest moments to truly understand what is meant by the struggle. Watching videos and seeing photos of Mandela throwing up his fist after walking out of jail gave my fist a new meaning.
Johannesburg was equally powerful. We were able to get a tour of Soweto and see where South Africa's movement dates back to. We visited Desmond Tutu's home and saw Mandela's old family home. We also visit the Apartheid Museum. I guess I can't really be surprised because as an African American studies minor, I know the sadness and evil of history. But one of the most powerful parts of the trip was when my mother and I were visiting the Apartheid Museum. We were given cards that told us what races we were. I was given white and she was given black. At the beginning of the visit you have to go in your appropriate door, meaning I went in the entrance and she went in the black. My mom was not pleased and tried to get me to cheat and come over as many other people who had been split up did (by going over the railing). I refused and just for a few minutes, my mom and I were separated and once again we learned the absolute horror of segregation. The museum was absolutely amazing and was definitely a highlight of my last months in Africa.
I also visited with Hoyas Terrance and Ellie. I am excited for them and can't wait to here about their semester in SA.