Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010, 12:37 AM Jo’burg Time- Emthonjeni B&B (Soweto)

This morning was great. Had a great breakfast and headed to the Apartheid Museum. I really enjoyed the museum. It was interesting. The first part of it you actually get a ticket that says White or Non-White and you have to enter through a particular entrance based on that. I got a White ticket. Weird.

            One of the most interesting things I saw in the museum was a list of people in a given year that had changed racial categories officially in South Africa. It was interesting because it showed the fluidity of a constructed concept like race even in a rigid structure like apartheid.

            Another thing I thought was interesting was the creation of Afrikaner nationalism and white identity in South Africa. I think when we consider the history of oppression we consider the people as groups constantly without every thinking of the makings of that group identity. Hate is rarely unsophisticated in its construction I think. If it were then we would see through it too easy.

            The thing that impresses me the most about all those things once again is the ability and impulse of South Africa to embrace, commemorate, and build upon its mistakes. They seem to embrace things in a way that I could never see America doing and I think it's refreshing coming from a country that is so quick to want to forget about the ugly parts of its history.

            After we left the museum we were headed back to Soweto to grab lunch when disaster struck. Our minibus stalled out on a hill right before the ramp to the expressway. The starter was messed up so we ended up getting stuck for about 30 minutes. Eventually we had to push the car in order to get it to start in second gear but eventually we got it to work. It was actually quite a fun experience though we had to get traffic to move around and all that was a bit intimidating.

            Lunch was great. After lunch some of the neighborhood kids came and danced for us and the other people who were eating. There were a lot of white Afrikaners in Soweto today because there was a big SA-New Zealand rugby game happening at Soccer Stadium (one of the sites of some of the big World Cup games) in Soweto. After that we went on a driving tour through Soweto. The woman who was our guide owned the restaurant where we ate and was really knowledgeable. She told us about growing up when she did and how things were back then. We ended the tour in a square where there is a memorial to a young boy who was shot in the 1976 student uprising. The monument's design was very cool and it was a good end to the tour. Learning about the township and really getting to see it made me feel even more so than I did before that it's not that different from black neighborhoods in America. Some are better than others but many have a lot to offer and a great spirit and sense of community that fuel them and make them beautiful places.

            Afterwards we went back to our B&B. Most of the folks in the group went to watch the rugby game on a big screen that was set up for the public. I was tired and wanted to get some work done for school though so I stayed behind. Even still the concept of having the game on in Soweto is a crazy one. Rugby's history in South Africa is very much one dominated by white Afrikaners (the descendants of the Dutch, some of whom were key architects of apartheid). To be able to have an audience for the game in Soweto and also to have white South Africans there also to watch it does give hope for what South Africa can do and also how far it's come.

We had dinner at a mall food court. I wasn't too hungry but ended up grabbing some chicken at a spot and eating. There was a boy who was wandering around the court beggin for money and looking for food. I got his attention and invited him to sit with me. I gave him my cole slaw and some of my fries (cole slaw is one of the few foods I hate). I ended up giving him a few of my wings to finish as well. It felt good to share a meal with someone and to do something good for someone else. We talked a little bit, not much, but I could still feel that he was grateful.

            After that we went to a soccer game. It was a team called the Kaiser Chiefs from Soweto playing a team called the Celtics from a city who's name I can't spell. It was a hell of a lot of fun. The game was almost all black in terms of the fans. It kind of spoke to the segregation of sport that is still in South Africa (rugby for whites, soccer for blacks). The atmosphere reminded me a ton of HBCU game in terms of the spirit of the fans and the general crunkness. We stood the whole time chanting and dancing with the Chiefs fans. Vuvuzelas and all that madness. It was awesome. The Chiefs won the game 1-0 and our whole group of Americans made friends with the Chiefs supporters in our section and had a great time.

Also copped a new GQ today. Excited.

"and wherever i go it's the same as home. it's the h double o d, the name is known."

-masta ace



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