“Certainly Conrad had a problem with niggers.”- From Chinua Achebe’s essay “Racisim in Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness”
Meet my roommate Franziska (and our neighbor Alex!). She’s German and oh so hilarious, I tell her I need to learn German because if she is this freaking funny in English I can just imagine her in her native tongue.
Anywho, we went to a bbq this weekend, it was full of Germans, Belgians, and Americans. And one Australian 🙂 Über cool.
The Rhodes Memorial is only a 10 minute hike from campus, its such a beautiful, peaceful place to lay under a tree and catch an awesome view of the city. My roommate and I met one of his friends there for a picnic and I basically fell in love with the place. I will be running away there from time to time now 🙂
My usual sidebar: Personally, I am still getting used to all these Cecil Rhodes monuments around UCT’s campus. He has the infamous reputation of being one of the most violent racists Southern Africa had ever seen. But hey, when you have money and land , and subsequently donate enough of it, your less than stellar reputation becomes more tolerable.
Read more about the gentleman here.
Old South African white men playing cricket make me feel uncomfortable.
“These boys are part of a group known as the Kommando Korps, founded by a white fringe organisation in South Africa. The boys are at the camp for several reasons, one of them is to learn self defense. But the most important reason is to learn about their white race. Colonel Franz Jooste, the leader of the camp, teaches the kids about their white Afrikaner identity, the white struggle for a free country for whites within South Africa and other racist ideas. The children, all born after apartheid, are part of the so called born free generation. This generation was is supposed to bring unity and change in South Africa, but instead they are taught polarization and hatred towards blacks.”- February 2012
On a lighter note, I went to a karaoke/drag show situation last week with some other international students and it was a blastttt. The pictures above were taken before the $3 tequila shots started kicking in so they are a bit more tame 🙂
Nonetheless, I ended up doing various songs throughout the night including “I wanna dance with somebody” (RIP to Aunty Whitney), “Only girl in the world” by Princess RiRi, and Backstreet Boys “I want it that way”.
As you can imagine my vocal range is superb. That was a joke by the way, I suck.
Welcome to the University of Cape Town!
It’s a beautiful campus with beautiful people (especially the women, anyone who knows me understands how happy beautiful African women make me).
Anywho, I am lucky enough to be in small classes with some of these beautiful women and had a very interesting conversation after one of my courses yesterday evening. A classmate from Zimbabwe asked me if colorism within the African American community is as serious as people make it out to be. She said “I mean are there really preferences of lighter skin women over darker skin women? Surely this is an exaggeration!”
Well internet friends, what is a girl to say? I personally have never suffered from a complex because of my dark skin, but have been around the most GORGEOUS women who unfortunately have, and after attending a historically black university, I actually realized that it was a SERIOUS dilemma in the black community. A dilemma that of course comes from slavery and has resulted in the unfortunate binaries of dark skin and light skin people. One group being more beautiful while the other is well, the “other”.
Not to bore you with the historical implications of this color complex, there are plenty of books describing the dynamics of African American race politics that yall can read (The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African Americans by Kathy Russell is a “page turner” lol).
What was REALLY interesting was my African classmates fear and dread that this color complex is moving into the South African community through the dissemination of rap and hip hop music and music videos. To put it plainly, so many young South Africans are listening to Lil Wayne and other coons who speak about yellow bone this and light skin that, that now this affinity for women of lighter complexions, or the culturally ambiguous women is being blindly spread across international waters.
My classmate insisted that “We [black south africans] NEVER separated ourselves according to skin tone, we were too unified against apartheid to care about that kind of thing. We are all BLACK South Africans. But now when you go to Johannesburg, guys are openly proclaiming their love for only women with light skin, blond weaves, and big asses. What is this? They think they are in a music video? This has never been a part of our culture!”
Scary to think that our racial insecurities are polluting the cultures of others. Shame.
It has begun (hence the obligatory photo booth picture in the library).
My attempt to ignore the fact that I am actually not on vacation, and my academic funding was not intended to support my eating habits has been in vain. Grad School is once again in full swing!
Thankfully, I am taking the most amazing courses at the African Gender Institute and the Center for African Studies, I am so blessed. The readings, the assignments, the presentations, the discussions are all overly stimulating, I literally am too excited to function normally in class (asking way too many questions), and become lost in the world of the texts I read for my classes.
Its an unbelievable feeling and I know this experience was the best thing that has ever happened to my little old life.
The great thing about living with an Australian law student is first I get to live vicariously through him and the amazing South African law classes he takes, but also he schools me on aspects of Australian culture and politics that I had never heard of before.
Anywho, Daniel invited me to the opening of a new exhibition of urban Australian Indigenous art. ‘Message Stick’ is sponsored by the Australian Government and will be touring the African continent this year. This piece called “Ungratefull” by Julie Downing is symbolic of Australia’s Stolen Generation.
Aboriginal children (up until the early 1970’s) were taken/ripped/stolen from their families: “Under a government policy that ran from 1910 to, unbelievably, 1971, as many as 1 in 10 of all Aboriginal children were removed from their families in an effort to “civilize” them by assimilation into white society.”
Imagine the damage.
Read more about the Stolen Generation here.
Our first (large) dinner party was a success I would say!
The roomies and I opened our cottage up to 11 ladies on Valentines Day for a potluck and game/wine night (I had to bring out the bottle of Barefoot Moscato it reminds me of my boo Ciara Small).
It was such a great night, with great company, food, laughs, and just good stuff. I had had such a long day yesterday with three classes and running all over campus, I was actually thinking of not having the party anymore. But I decided not to be my usual self and push through and I am so happy I did!
The ladies I have been meeting are super fab and warm people, I am happy we all got together 🙂
My Life in Pictures:
1. Me lounging on the couch and reading about South Africa on my kindle
2. Having brunch and blogging for y’all at this great cafe/restaurant by my house
3. View of University of Cape Town’s Upper Campus, where I will be taking classes and doing thesis research at the African Gender Institute
4. The thrift store where I will be volunteering on Monday mornings
5. The fantastic weather of Cape Town! Don’t hate.
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is breath-taking, I will let the photos speak for themselves.
My roommate and I went to one of the summer concerts they had at the garden, it was a collection of American Jazz musicians (one was from DC. woop).
It was so chill, people had wine, picnics, and they were getting down! The concert series ends in about a month, and there are some really good performers that I would like to see, it will be a perfect outing for when my boo’s come to visit in March 🙂
I am happy I am going out, in DC I got into such grind mode of work and school I hardly ever did things like this in the months leading up to my departure. I’m proud of myself.
Ce match a faillit me tuer. I became physically ill watching the final in the African Cup of Nations match against Zambia last night.
I felt as if I was the only Cote d’Ivoire supporter in Cape Town, it was a serious problem, if I had stayed at the bar with all those Zambian fans I would have gotten into a fight. No seriously, first because I was outnumbered 1 to like 100, and second I was not about to stay quiet and not support my team! So yes, my roommates made the executive decision to go to a more quiet bar across the street 🙂
The game was nuts, long, and I literally was in pain the whole 3 hours. We lost. Its ok though, merci à toute l’équipe pour nous avoir fait rêver!
Robert Sobukwe has an inspirational and tragic story.
He was the leader of the Pan Africanist Congress which led a major political campaign in 1960 against pass laws in South Africa. Pass laws were the driving force of apartheid, requiring non-whites to carry pass books that would allow them to travel outside their “designated areas”. These passbooks were like passports for blacks, they would mostly be allowed to come into white areas for work and could be stopped by any white person, even a child, for inspection of their passbooks.
Sobukwe and the PAC held a peaceful demonstration against the passbooks in the Sharpeville township that turned into the infamous Sharpeville Massacre in which police opened fired on unarmed demonstrators killing over 60 people.
After the incident in Sharpeville, Sobukwe and other PAC leaders were arrested and imprisoned. Sobukwe was seen as a major threat to the Apartheid government and lived in solitary confinement on Robben Island for six years. He was allowed no contact with anyone else ever, and eventually developed serious damage to his vocal cords, he eventually died of lung cancer (well that is what the government reported at least).
Wikipedia links for y’all-
The prison on Robben Island was also heavily discriminatory towards Bantu’s )or black Africans) as compared to the colored or Indian populations incarcerated.
This photo shows the different foods and condiments that were given to the colored inmates but not to the black inmates. You can see how the blacks were not able to have things like jam or bread.