Headed towards Cape Town, South Africa

Posted by Carrie on Sunday, March 26th, 2006
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Well, today we are leaving beautiful Tanzania – we’re headed towards Cape Town, South Africa. As excited as I am to see and learn about South Africa, I am very sad to leave Arusha and the people I’ve met. After dropping of a small gift of Seelah, Allan took us to Kilimanjaro airport. From there we flew to Zanzibar - an island, which is part of Tanzania. Next we flew to Dar Es Salam - had a short lay over and it was off to South Africa. We first landed in Johannesburg and then caught another flight to Cape Town. Hmm, so first impressions of South Africa:

1. very diverse group of people- black, white, Asian.
2. huge and industrial- just like the US
3. casual attire- lots of baseball hats, shorts, sandals, “fashion girls” - a hip place.

Really it didn’t feel any different from the U.S. – it was a little chilly, and quite windy - but the airport was pretty much like others in the US and so were the people. Aside from the accents and driving on the “wrong “side of the road - we could have been in California.

Once in Cape Town - it was pretty much the same. It did take us a while to get out of the airport because Carrie’s luggage was lost somewhere in Johannesburs - the woman at the ticket counter forgot to put a tag on Carrie’s bag - so it didn’t go anywhere- course we didn’t know this until later.

So, by the time we got into a cab it was about midnight. Now, in Cape Town, we are not staying in a hotel - we have rented a house for the week. No one really knew what to expect, and we didn’t know if the house was close to the organizations and people we’d be talking to. So, let me tell you about our “mansion”! It is located in Haut Bay - an extremely wealthy section of Cape Town - we are right on the coast - as that’s where Cape Town is - we’re quite near to where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean meet. So, we have a three story house - 3 bedroom, 2 baths, an upstairs deck, a pool, washer and dryer, huge kitchen and dining room! Our view is amazing. Again, an incredibly wealthy area. It’s also the British area. South Africa was colonized by England, the Dutch and Germans. I’m sure you know this, but until the early 1990s the South African government enforced a system of apartheid - this was an extremely oppressive system of segregation - and while I don’t want to compare segregation in the U.S. to the system of apartheid, as they are both horrible - living in South Africa during apartheid was like living in a police state. There are 4 racial groups in South Africa - whites, blacks, colored and Asians- coloreds are a mix of the various groups and had more social status that blacks and Asians- blacks being at the very bottom. For example, blacks had to carry passes, could not vote, had to live in certain areas of South Africa, could be put in jail for interracial relationships/marriages. Each racial group had places where they were to live, certain jobs, etc Most blacks lived and still live today - in areas called town ships - during apartheid blacks were forced to live on “homelands” - areas far from the cites, areas that were not good for agriculture. This was a way to get better land for the minority and keep the majority out of site, out of the way. Blacks could come into the cities to work, but the homelands were not close and so, to make it easier to get to cities, blacks created - townships – outside of the cities - shantytowns. Black people created makeshift houses and lived in them because they were close - of course there was no water, no electricity, etc. They were a mess and they are all over South Africa - Apartheid was an incredibly demeaning, oppressive, and damaging system. It began to fall apart in the late 1980s and when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1991,
the government began working with the ANC - the current party in power and in 1994 South African held their first democratic elections - Nelson Mandela being the first African president in the history of South Africa.

So, that’s just a little history about South Africa. We’ll get going tomorrow.

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