Guess who’s back? …. MEEEE! A bit of a hiatus but my computers were down and now they’re up and working and now I can get back to my blog. Yippy!
Durban, SOUTH AFRICA:
I was quite excited about going to Durban (as I always am when I visit a new destination in Africa!). I had did some research before I went and found out that Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. It is also the second most important manufacturing hub in South Africa after Johannesburg. It is a port city on the south east of the African coast. The weather was very pleasant the time of year that I went; High of 70 degrees so it was quite comfortable.
I arrived in the evening. Upon my arrival to my hotel there seemed to be a big concert across the street. When we inquired about the festivities in the area we were told that there was a big annual horse racing event and the concert was one of the many post horse race festivities that were taking place all over Durban. I wanted to join! I wanted to be with the people and feel their energy and enjoy the music.
I quickly went to my room to change into something more comfortable and as I showered and dressed I could clearly here the music from the concert; from pop, to hip-hop and r&b. Then they started to play a song that was very familiar to me and reminded me that I was definitely in South Africa…
Safa Saphel Isizwe
I got goosebumps as I listened…
I first heard this song in the play turned movie “Sarafina“. I was 12 years old when I saw this movie and it stirred up such strong emotion in my heart. Through this movie I was introduced to the history of Apartheid in South Africa, the oppression of the indigenous South Africans and to the person Nelson Mandela (affectionately known as “Madiba”) and the impact he had on the abolition of apartheid and bringing about a more unified South Africa. Still one of my favorite movies to date!
My heart got so excited and a feeling of pride rose inside of me as I listened. I was in South Africa! In a nation where the people have struggled, fought and many lost their lives in the name of equality and human rights. What a feeling!
Unfortunately, when we tried to go to the concert all tickets were sold out and we had to opt for an evening of dinner and lounging.
The next day was when I was able to explore a little more. Durban is a beautiful city! As I walked from my hotel down to the shore I could see the superficial effects of colonialism within Durban. Where we were located, there were a lot of Caucasians and Indians and not as many indigenous Africans. In the residential areas I saw absolutely beautiful homes and apartment buildings.
If I didn’t know I was in Africa, based on the Western media’s images of Africa that I’ve seen all my life, I wouldn’t even think I was in Africa. Not a lot of black faces in these residential areas though. The black faces I did see were watering lawns and working in the stores. I was quite surprised at the bigger population of Indians that I saw, though. Spoke to a taxi driver who was ethnically Indian and asked him how long has he lived in South Africa. He informed me that he was South African, has been in Durban all his life and his family has been here for over 4 generations. He didn’t even consider himself Indian at first. I caught sight of many Middle Easterners and Asians too. South Africa is more multi-cultural than I thought!
After taking a long walk down Umhlanga Rocks Drive, having breakfast a colleague and I ended up by the ocean in Umhlanga. There was a small light house, pier and a boardwalk along the beach for running, strolling or sitting down and taking in the ocean air and beautiful beach scenery! I love the beach so I was elated to be there, walking on the rocks and taking in the salty sea air. It was so refreshing and beautiful.
Lastly, before heading back to the hotel, I spotted an antique shop next to the Protea Hotel and decided to go in. Here I had the pleasure of meeting an elder gentleman, Mr. Mervyn Mitton, who enlightened us for the rest of our afternoon. He was the owner of the shop and filled us in on the historical facts of every antique piece my colleague and I inquired about. He used to be a British soldier and has done a lot of world traveling and collected and sold a lot of military antique pieces in his years. He shared so many of his experiences with us and also brought me up to speed about some African history in South Africa and West Africa, especially Liberia where he spent some time. Check out Mr. Mitton’s antiques on his blog
I ended the day with a quick run to the massive shopping mall across the street from my hotel which, by the way, has damn near everything we have in the US and UK and a quick shot of the view from the hotel pool below.
**NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA**
I want to start with these videos…
The affect of Apartheid on Cape Town, South Africa
I was introduced to Madiba through the movie “Sarafina” when I was 12 years old. When I grew older I started to do my own research on Apartheid and the significant role played by Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress. He made his stance very clear to the Apartheid government and the world and did not deter from his path. His first interview says it all…
Many feel that he was a criminal and his time in jail was deserved and he was guilty of treason against the South African government. However, I have a different view. As you hear his view in the interview above, he took a stand against an oppressive tyrant government who imposed inhumane and unethical rules and regulations on the indigenous peoples of South Africa after stealing the land from them and making it their own. Even though Mandela and the ANC’s original approach were peaceful, the government didn’t respond with peace… and they were in the WRONG! I’m not justifying violence but until you stand in the shoes of a people who have been oppressed for too long and have no other option of escape, then we will never understand the anger and the passion for freedom and equal rights by any means necessary. It was because of Mandela’s fight and sacrifice of almost 1/3 of his life in prison, with the addition of others who fought for the same cause, that the rest of the world jumped in on the stance against Apartheid and its laws.
After 27 years of imprisonment, his release represented the beginning of the end of the oppressive and tyrannical system of Apartheid to the world!
There is still a lot of growth and progress that needs to take place in South Africa and it’s not void of corruption like every nation in this world but it has come a long way from where it used to be. Thank you, Madiba, for your stance against segregation, systematic racism and unethical treatment of non-Europeans within South Africa during the time of Apartheid. Your fight and sacrifice will go down in infamy regardless of the naysayers. Your stance, fight and resolve has been an example for many.
I’ll leave you with this BEAUTIFUL Tribute to Mandela.