South Africa: Day one

Day one, fresh off the plane! Or not so fresh after a day of travel. The airport is almost exactly the same as any other American airport except for the currency exchanges. After a short walk out of the airport with no street lights, we made it to our bus. Nearly 24 hours of sitting made the bus ride seem worse than it was but I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining too much. We arrived at the Brown Sugar backpackers’ lodge which is really nice even though it used to be a Mob house. It has a very cozy and welcoming atmosphere and has some authentic feeling decorations and foods.

After a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast we set out to see Joburg in the light for the first time. The city was under lots of construction and it was fascinating to see the small differences such as drivers operating on the opposite side of the road and the amount of foot traffic. The sides of the streets frequently were occupied by illegal street vendors mainly selling fruit and vegetables. The entire city seemed to have a pulse. In that I mean that even if the people are not quickly moving about their business you can feel that the city is alive. There was an indescribable human connection even between those who didn’t know each other. At the same time after the 17 years of Apartheid, one could see that this nation is still in its infancy. One is forced to wonder what is going on in the minds of these people.

Our next destination was the Apartheid Museum. Apartheid was a segregation movement that strictly enforced suppression against black Africans. This oppression lasted from 1918 to 1994. This experience was very enlightening and emotional for all of the students. The museum displayed a timeline that spanned from ancient African natives all the way to the present day. The museum was broken up into several sections that included Mandela’s life, the Apartheid era, reconciliation, and the fall of the apartheid. The cruel conditions of the apartheid were shocking and made one wonder how a human being can bring such a magnitude of suffering on generations of other humans. The living conditions and the constant violence took a great emotional toll on the people. The native Africans even had to carry a passbook to travel around in their own town!

Below is a statement commenting on the power of the Apartheid.

“No Physical barrier black and white zones. What keeps blacks from spilling over into the white reserve is the unseen power of Apartheid.”