Today was very interesting. We got the opportunity to learn a whole lot about Apartheid and how it affected people through a very nice and excitable man (I’m blanking on his name at the moment). He was extremely jovial and eager to share his story with us, which we’ve all noticed seems to be a standard feeling amongst many South Africans that we meet. We began in his coffee shop Roving Bantu Kitchen, where he spoke to us about his personal experiences with Apartheid. Something that I found absolutely amazing was the fact that he lived throughout the entire experience of Apartheid, beginning with the notice that was given to Colored/Indian/Black South Africans that they had to collect all of their belongings and move out of their homes to make way for the people coming through to clear their homes in a couple of days. I never thought I would meet anyone who went through the whole of Apartheid, but I was pleasantly surprised when we visited the District Six museum in Capetown – our tour guide Noor got the same notice as our guide from today, and it was great to know two different perspectives. Noor was classified/identified as Indian while the man we spoke to today was categorized as Black. Even though they were classified differently, it was nice to hear something about Apartheid from the very beginning in two different voices.
Our guide from today was extremely informative. He taught us SO much about the way things were here in South Africa when Apartheid became legal. I personally enjoyed hearing another personal testimony, because going to museums is great and they show you so much information, but one thing museums tend to neglect is person stories that are told from the actual people’s mouths and perspectives. Today I felt like I was being told a story, and because of how animated/eager he was, listening to him came so naturally. I really admire him because not everyone who goes through horrific and terrorizing experiences have the ability to share their stories coherently or even at all. I felt extremely lucky to be able to hear what his opinions were about Apartheid, as many of the Apartheid survivors who are willing to share their stories so openly are getting older and unfortunately won’t be around too much longer. There’s nothing better than hearing directly from the source.
One part of his tour today that really struck me was his talk about a man named Jimmy that he met who changed his whole perspective on the way he looked at South African history. I really enjoyed the part about going to the graveyards and digging up the deceased to find out who really started everything or who was really to blame, since that’s a big debate here in South Africa. Going to the graveyard was very intriguing for me, as I never thought of them as sources of learning or knowledge. But his teachings in the graveyard really enforced for me that graveyards really are for the living. We have the ability to go back into them and study their headstones, do research, and put pieces together that perhaps might have even been hard to put together while those people were alive, His friend Jimmy really made a major shift in his life, and because of that, we were able to benefit from the newfound knowledge about Apartheid and the people who were affected and how they were affected. Overall, I feel like his tour today really gave me the most insight into what really happened during Apartheid than most of the other activities/visits we’ve made so far.
In terms of the graffiti tour we took today, I really think it was a great idea to walk around Joburg and see the different pieces of art that are on display. I liked the government art that we were introduced to, but I really appreciated the graffiti because in the U.S, graffiti it so highly frowned upon. It was nice to see that some places in the world are viewing graffiti as an actual artistic expression and art form that has the ability to tell stories in ways that many people wouldn’t be able to explain them. I also thought it was really cool how our tour guide – Joe – was so knowledgeable about the graffiti artists that she showed us. I’ve always been curious about graffiti artists, but I’ve always found their artwork to be a little difficult to read/understand. That could be because I’m more of a written artist than a visual one, but overall I’m extremely glad that I was able to hear input from someone who’s actually studied graffiti art and who also knows a lot about Joburg – our guide was able to bring both the city and the artwork together to paint a nice picture for us to better understand the importance of artistic expression. In essence, even though today was long and consisted of quite a bit of back & forth/walking, we learned a lot, and the deliverance of the information was very easy to absorb, which I highly appreciated.