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My Interesting Experience in South Africa

Hello, everyone, I am currently writing to you from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Before I arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday I had a connecting flight at the Addis Ababa Airport in Ethiopia where I was able to have an authentic Ethiopian breakfast. I spent my first couple of days in Stellenbosch with my friend Heaven from UNR who is studying abroad there. Stellenbosch is very beautiful and has many great places to see. They are well known for their wine farms. Although my favorite part of the week was from Thursday-Monday that we spent at a hostel in Cape Town. The hostel was extremely cheap compared to an Airbnb or hotel so we were able to save money. Cape town has many things to do and we were able to explore a good portion of it. We went to the Zeitz Mocaa Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, V&A waterfront and Boulders Beach where we able to see hundreds of African penguins in their natural habitat. We also rode a cable car to the top of Table mountain which had a beautiful view of Cape Town.

My favorite part of my time in Cape Town was visiting Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he was unjustly put behind bars. The historical significance of this island was very prevalent throughout my tour and I learned many things about Apartheid that I did not previously know. Apartheid was a racist segregation system that existed in South Africa and South West Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. In this system, the white minority held the highest status, followed in descending order by Asians, Coloureds, and black Africans. What became apparent to me upon my arrival to Cape Town are the lasting effects of Apartheid that still lingers on the South African population today. From walking the streets of Stellenbosch to Cape Town the racial disparities can be seen. The places that we visited that are considered to be “nice” are occupied predominantly by White people, whereas the “less nice” places are occupied predominantly by black Africans. Additionally, I noticed that people of the same ethnic group tend to stick together and there is not much intermingling between different ethnic groups of people. The most shocking thing for me is that in America I am classified as black but here people considered me to be Coloured. In South Africa, Coloureds are a multiracial ethnic group native to Southern Africa who have ancestry from more than one of the ethnic populations within the region. For example, a person whose father is black African and mother is white would be considered Coloured. My father is African American and my mother is Italian, Lebanese and Liberian so I am usually classified as a mixed person in society in the United States but officially just as Black. In my personal experience growing up in the United States, I have felt that even though there are issues of colorism that need to be addressed between lighter and darker skin African Americans we come together at the end of the day to fight the bigger issues of racism facing our community as a whole. Unfortunately, this is not what I have witnessed in South Africa. Consequently, there is a clear tension between Coloured people and black Africans that is the result of Apartheid. I hope that these two ethnic groups can set their differences aside and fight the systematic and societal pressures that exist today in South Africa because of the racist Apartheid system. The clear economic disparities between the majority-black African and Coloured population compared to the minority white population is incomprehensible. The White South African population owns an extremely disproportionate majority of the wealth in the country. I was inspired by many of the local black African and Coloured students whom I met here. They are aware of these issues and are striving to create change within their communities through grass-root organizing, protest, and education. I believe that with time and more young leaders the issues that this country faces may be resolved in the future.

I would like to thank you all for reading this week!

Boulder Beach
Table Mountain
My friend Heaven and I at Robben Island
V&A Waterfront
Heaven wanted to share some of her Ethiopian culture with me and took me to a nearby Ethiopian restaurant in Cape Town. It was delicious 😁
One of the prison cells at Robben Island

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  1. Hi Brendan,
    I see you got to visit and see a lot of the same places your Grandpa, uncle Courtney and I visited when we went to South Africa in the 1994 with the Black McDonald operators, and from your blog, I see many things are still the same, although then it was a bit worst for
    the native South Africans. I am so grateful that you have gotten a chance to visit and experience it for yourself and it is wonderful that you have a fellow classmate that has been there for awhile and she was able to give you a better idea as she has had more time to digest it. Thanks for sharing. Do take care. Love Grandma


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