The Ups and Downs of Life in South Africa

Monday, January 14, 2008, 02:13 PM
Posted by Kaitlin Abbey

On Saturday we drove from Cape Town to the fishing town of Hermanus. Our first stop in the town was to the local crèche, or children’s nursery. The children greeted us by singing the South African National Anthem, first in their native language of Xosa, then in Afrikaans, and finally in English. We were all very impressed they could memorize all this at such young ages, We then had a change to play with the kids, some of us taking them outside to teach them songs and games and some of us staying inside to color with them. It was a little difficult to interact with the children at first because of the language barrier, but with their enthusiasm and our persistence, we had a great experience.

After having some snacks with the children we bid our farewells and met up with a man named Wilson who is a famous whale crier. He talked to us about the town of Hermanus, the whale watching capital, and his passion of the subject was obvious and intriguing. He then took us on a walking tour of the township. Having had spent the last few days in the big city of Cape Town, `I think we were all a bit shocked by the overwhelming poverty we witnessed here. We walked through street after street of shanties as Wilson explained to us how this area had been created back in 1962 after the people who live there were removed from their homes during apartheid.

As we stood watching a group of street performers singing and dancing, a fight broke out on the street behind us. Within seconds, a man was on the ground being beaten by another man and a large group of others stood around watching. In less than one minute a siren went off and a policeman was breaking up the fight, but I think it had a major impact on all of us. Because although the area was extremely destitute, the positive atmosphere that had been surrounding us gave us a deceiving impression that all was well.

I feel that we all learned a great deal that day about the struggles that South Africa has faced and the lasting effects they still have upon its people today.

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