Cape Town Reflection

Our time in Cape Town has come to an end; so I will take a moment to reflect on it.

There was one thing I did miss more than my sister, son, daughter-in-law, grandbaby and family of friends and that was CENTRAL HEATING!  Everybody that knows me know that I hate being cold and man have I been cold here.  I LOVE Cape Town’s winter weather, but the lack of central heating is something I just cannot get used to.  Their solution to the lack of heating is to put on more clothes and/or sleep with hot water bottles.  I did sleep with more clothes on, but I refuse to buy a hot water bottle.  My paranoia about that was the water bottle would leak in the middle of the night and I would not be able to sleep for sure.  It seemed to be colder inside than it was outside.  Lindsay from Beth Uriel explained to us that it was because most of the buildings were made of cement.  If you noticed on every picture you see of me, I have on my jacket; inside and out.  What you couldn’t see was the other layers of shirts I had on!  Yet, it was never enough.  The lesson I learned as I venture into finding employment in warm climate is to not only research the climate, but research the resources of handling the climate.

Another thing I did not like was riding in the Kombis, which we did not have to do that, much; but when we did, I hated it.  Kombis are a form of public transportation; a combination of a taxi and a city bus.  They ride around picking up people like taxi’s, but they load people in like a bus.  I really did not like the way they packed people in them like sardines; they almost had people sitting on each other’s laps.  When you would think, “Okay, it’s full in here, they would stop and pick up more people!”  All the time, I’m thinking where are they going to seat them and believe me, they would find a spot!  They even had a crate inside for some people to sit on, when they ran out of seats!  And they hustled those Kombis like they hustled drugs.  They rode around looking for people walking and would whistle and yell to see if you wanted to get a ride.  I rather walk than ride in a Kombi.

Now what I could get used to was the laundry service.  We did not have to wash our clothes.  There was a laundry service right around the corner from us and all we had to do was take our dirty laundry bag there for cleaning and drying.  They would weigh your laundry and you pay according to the weight.  The most I paid was 75 Rands, which is $7.50 in American dollars.  The best part of it was they would have it ready for you the same day!  I will admit, they did not get them as clean as I thought they should have been, but the service was surely worth it!

As far as my packing, I can rate as pretty good right now.  Though, we had cleaning ladies that left new bath towels each day, when they came to clean the room, they did not leave wash cloths.  Thanks to my flatmate, Nisha, who brought plenty, I was able to use one of hers until I bought my own.  So far it seems like I did not need to bring any short sleeve or summer/spring clothes at all.  I should have brought all winter clothes, along with hats, gloves and scarfs.  We all resulted in buying those things here; trying to stay warm.  The best thing I brought was my Sigma Gamma Rho afghan, which I use as a blanket.  I walked around with it around me while inside like Linus with his blanket.

What I will take from Cape Town as we move to our next destination is an enhancement of my appreciation for the things I do have.  The first month in South Africa revealed to me that we, in America are TRULY BLESSED!  We have unlimited resources that we are so used to having that we feel we are supposed to have.  I became so frustrated with not being able to have things I wanted or how I wanted them, For example, all of the food portions here are smaller; the fish fillet at McDonalds is so thin, it’s like you are eating a bread sandwich.  They sell pop mainly in the cans rather than the bottles and the cans are not 12 oz. cans.  Subway only gives you four choices of breads to choose from, limited choices of meat and they don’t sell soup.  Everything you see that is like home is different.  They don’t have Diet Coke, they have Light Coke and it’s different.  I found myself about to have a tantrum; like a spoiled little kid.  When I calmed down, my level of appreciation grew for the resources we have in America!  I understand why people here feel like America is like Heaven; because we’ve got it like that!

As our picture shows, here’s to Cape Town!  Now, let’s see what Port Elizabeth has to offer us!!

August 28 – 28th Day in Cape Town

Today we had a lecture from a guy named Innocent Kache.  Before I tell you about him, let me remind you how we have been warned about safety.  Remember, when we first step on Cape Town’s ground, Dr. B met us at the airport and before we departed from the airport, she gave us a lecture on being safe.  That was just our first lecture and throughout the trip we have been constantly reminded about being safe.  When we met the Consul General, she immediately began to talk to us about being safe.  Being raised in the projects have bred me on being safe; so when I received these warnings my safety antennas were extremely extended and I’ve been safety paranoid.  So, when the group informed me that Dr. Murphy said she met a taxi driver that inspired her so much, she asked him to come in and speak to us!

RED ALERT; I thought, “Is Dr. Murphy crazy?!  And his name is Innocent?!”  I told my flatmates that I would be sure to give him a look to let him know that I did not trust him and we were ready to do anything necessary to protect ourselves from him.  I even “googled” him to see if I could find any other information about him.

Innocent came and tell us his life story and I felt bad for being so paranoid about him.  I understood why Dr. Murphy was so moved to have him to come and speak to us!  His story is so much like my own, it was touching.

I must say the way South Africans tell stories is so intoxicating.  Unfortunately, I could never tell you his story in the manner he told us; it was just too long and too detailed.  In a nutshell, like me, he has lived a life of struggle.  Innocent was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.  His parents separated, when he was young and he never knew him.  His mother died, when he was young and he was raised in an abusive environment by his maternal aunt (his mother’s sister).  One difference is his father is alive and well, but has never been a father to him.  He admits that he still has bitter feelings towards his father and he continues to pray about that.

The moral of his story is that he knows his life has been and is in the hands of a higher power and through it all, he will be alright.  His journey of struggle brought him to Cape Town.  Since being in Cape Town he has been able to buy a car, which is why he is a taxi driver.  He feels that though he has struggled most of his life, he will be rich one day.  He suggested that we stay in touch with him through Facebook, because one day he may be in America!  To him, coming to America is like going to Heaven!

Though, I initially thought Dr. Murphy was crazy for inviting Innocent to come to speak with us, he has become another of my Facebook friends; a brother from another country.  Ironically, he has a picture on his Facebook page that says, “Need New Haters, the old ones are starting to like me…”


August 27 – 27th Day in Cape Town

Today we visited Beth Uriel, which is a supportive living environment aimed to provide young men from impoverished communities the chance to pursue meaningful, independent lives with a deep belief in the transforming power of God; Beth Uriel, “House of Light.”

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We were given an introduction to the facility by the Program Director, Lindsay Henley, or “Magogo,” as she is known around the home.  She is originally from the United States (Chicago area) but has been a part of the Beth Uriel family since 1999.  She came on board full-time in 2003 and has managed the home since 2004.  With a background in social work, Lindsay is responsible for working alongside Nosipho Seleka (Operations Manager) and Melvin Koopman (Program Manager) and supporting them in any way possible.  She is also dipping her toes in the cold, cold water of fundraising and other “not so glorious” administration required in non-profit management.  Lindsay is the proud mother of LJ.


We were given a tour of the home by one of its newest members, Richard.

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Afterwards, we stopped for a bite to eat, on our way to the Amy Biehl Foundation’s Youth Spirit Awards and Memorial Lecture, at Lady Bee, a Dehli Diner that offer home-cooked meals, including a wide range of quality curries, pastas, breyani, roasts and other favorites.


At the Amy Biehl Foundation’s Youth Spirit Awards and Memorial Lecture, we were first entertained by Aviva Pelham, a well known opera singer and the children of the foundation.

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Trevor Manuel, who is currently serving in the Cabinet of South Africa as Minister in the Presidency in charge of the National Planning Committee, was the guest speaker.


Final remarks were given my Linda Biehl, Amy’s Mother.


At the end, we met Erica J. Barks-Ruggle, who is the Consul General of the United States.



August 25 – 25th Day in Cape Town

As I mentioned in the post for August 19, one of the Memorials we visited was Amy Biehl’s.  She was a white American graduate of Stanford University and an Anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa, who was murdered by black Cape Town residents while a black mob shouted racial slurs.

In 1998 the four youths convicted of her murder were granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) after serving five years of their sentence – a decision that was supported by Amy’s parents. Easy Nofemela and Ntobeko Peni, two of the convicted men, now work for the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust in Cape Town, a charity which dedicates its work to putting up barriers against violence.

Today marked the 20th Anniversary of the tragic and we joined Clive Newman, who was one of the main organizers in the commemoration of her death.  The commemoration started at a church service at the St. Columba; an Anglican church in Gugulethu, South Africa.  What I found intriguing and a bit overwhelming about the service was the excessive use of the thurible; a metal censer suspended from chains, in which incense is burned during worship services.  Burning charcoal is inside the metal censer. Incense was placed upon the charcoal. This was done several times during the service as the incense burns quite quickly. Once the incense has been placed on the charcoal the thurible is then closed and used for censing.  It was used in the entrance procession; at the beginning of Mass to incense the cross and the altar; at the Gospel procession and proclamation; after the bread and the chalice have been placed upon the altar, to incense the offerings, the cross, and the altar, as well as the priest and the people; at the elevation of the host and the chalice after the consecration.  It was used so much; you can see the smoke on all of my pictures. 096 095 097 099 100 103 107 108 109 110 112 111 113 114 115 127 102 104 116 131 132 105 121 125 133


After church we walked down the street to Amy’s Memorial site, where children from her foundation played music, people gave speeches reflecting on their experiences with and about Amy.


Linda (Amy’s Mother) and Easy (one of the guys that killed her daughter)

A typical sight in Gugulethu

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Later that night, we went to see Sindiwe Magona’s Mother to Mother play, which is based on her novel Mother to Mother and explores the South African legacy of apartheid through the lens of a woman who remembers a life marked by oppression and injustice. Magona decided to write this novel when she discovered that Fulbright Scholar Amy Biehl, who had been killed while working to organize the nation’s first ever democratic elections in 1993, died just a few yards away from her own permanent residence in Guguletu, Capetown. She then learned that one of the boys held responsible for the killing was in fact her neighbor’s son. Magona began to imagine how easily it might have been her own son caught up in the wave of violence that day. The book is based on this real-life incident, and takes the form of an epistle to Amy Biehl’s mother. The murderer’s mother, Mandisi, writes about her life, the life of her child, and the colonized society that not only allowed, but perpetuated violence against women and impoverished black South Africans under the reign of apartheid. The result is not an apology for the murder, but a beautifully written exploration of the society that bred such violence.


Me with Sindiwe Magona, author of Mother to Mother

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August 24 – 24th Day in Cape Town

Today is our second class day without Dr. B.  Now, Dr. Murphy is our primary teacher and she chose to have class outside!  We walked down Main street to reach our destination of the Sea Point Promenade!  Dr. Murphy conducted class using her Kindle.  After class she stayed to search for sea shells and my flatmates and I walked to the Waterfront.  And what a walk it was!  One of the Green Point Park security guys that we asked for directions thought we were crazy for choosing to walk to the Waterfront; “I see you girls like to walk, yeh?!”  We didn’t want to tell him that it wasn’t that we liked to walk, but we were not real comfortable catching the city bus.  Besides, we had no idea how long it would take to get there.    067 078 079 082 080 086 083 089 085 091 094 092


Oh, I almost forgot to mention.  During our walk we looked up and saw people Hang Gliding off of Signal Hill!


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Dr. B’s “Going Back Home” Gathering

Dr. Bredesen aka Dr. B

The Chef
65 on Main

Cali and Emily

Amber and Arlene

Jaimee and Ronisha

Our Waiters
Doesn;t he look like Raz B?!

Dr. Murphy and Clive

Hilton and Anna

Me and Clive

Dr. B., Denise and Rachel

Clive, Me and Dr. B.

AAWW Surpise!

She LOVES her gifts!!

Today we had a special gathering for Dr. Bredesen (Dr. B as we have grown to call her) at 65 on Main.  Her job here in South Africa has come to an end and though we understand that she must go, we will surely miss her.  She was AWESOME!  Her passionate South African knowledge was captivating and a huge assistance in getting us accumulated in this new environment.  061 040

August 19 – Nineteenth Day in Cape Town

Today we took a tour in the townships.  Our tour was led by Clive Newman, who is a Project Manager and very passionate about history.  He began the tour at the lookout point of the Cecil Rhodes Memorial (the lower slopes of Devil’s Peak), which we had visited before.  Clive wanted to bring to our attention to how the white South Africans were currently living and I must say it is beautiful.

Clive Newman, our Township Tour Guide

Our view of the township for whites


Khayelitsha and Gugulethu grew to become the largest townships in the Cape Flats due being products of informal settlement and forced government relocations.  Informal settlements are shacks made of tin (in reality ridged iron), cardboard and wood.  They are mainly illegally occupied by Xhosa people, who were designated under apartheid as residents of Bantustans.  Almost all of the communities of the Cape Flats remain, to one degree or another, poverty stricken.  Serious social problems include a high rate of unemployment and disturbing levels of gang activity.  

Our next stop was to the Cape Flats, an expansive, low-lying flat area that has become home to people the apartheid government designated as non-white.  Our first stop was to the Memorial of the Trojan Horse Massacre, one of the incidents that demonstrated the increasing desperation of the apartheid government.  The Trojan Horse Massacre happened when three anti-apartheid protesters were killed and fifteen others wounded in a police ambush at the corner of St. Simon’s and Thornton Roads in Athlone. A group of onlookers and protesters, who were angry at the widespread Laws of Apartheid, had gathered at the corner of St. Simon’s Road. As anticipated, someone in the crowd threw a stone towards the truck as it passed.  Then the security force men arose from their hiding place and, without any warning, used automatic shotguns to fire shots into the crowd. People scattered. Michael Miranda, aged 11; Shaun Magmoed, aged 15; and Jonathan Claasen, aged 21 were gunned down, and died as a result. A further thirteen adults and two children were also injured in the shooting.

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Our next stop was to the Memorial of the Gugulethu Seven, which was an anti-apartheid group of men between the ages of 16 and 23 that were shot and killed on 3 March 1986 by members of the South African Police force. The seven men included Mandla Simon Mxinwa, Zanisile Zenith Mjobo, Zola Alfred Swelani, Godfrey Jabulani Miya, Christopher Piet, Themba Mlifi and Zabonke John Konile.  It was later uncovered that the police operation that unearthed the Gugulethu Seven’s plans, had been in the works for some time.

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Our next stop was to the Memorial of Amy Biehl, was a young American Fulbright Scholarship exchange student who studied at the University of the Western Cape in 1993 and tragically stoned and stabbed to death in Gugulethu township by young supporters of the Pan African Congress who were later granted amnesty through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  In remembrance of her, a non-profit organization, the Amy Biehl Foundation, was founded in 1997. Its mission is to “weave a barrier against violence” by focusing on social, cultural and economic empowerment through its many programs and, in so doing, restore hope and dignity to disadvantaged communities.


Our next stop was to Look Out Hill in Khayelitsha.  From there we had a spectacular view over Khayelitsha, the Cape Flats and Table Mountain.

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On our final stop, to drop Clive at home, we got to meet his lovely wife, Denise Newman, who has been a professional actress for more than 30 years.
Starting out at the Space Theater gave her the opportunity to create complex characters that resonated with truth and honesty.  With her theater work she got to work with some of the country’s great writer / directors including ATHOL FUGARD, PIETER DIRK UYS and LARA FOOT.  She trained under Alexander von Raumondt, an exponent of “Method Acting” who trained at The Actors Studio in Los Angeles.  In 1980 she was cast in her first lead role – CITY LOVERS – adapted for film from a short story by Nadine Gordimer which deals with the subject of love across the color line in apartheid South Africa.  While South Africans never got to see this film, it was screened in Europe, the UK and USA.


August 14

Today we went to the District Six (Apartheid) Museum, which is a museum in the former inner-city residential area District Six. District Six was named the Sixth Municipality District of Cape Town in 1867.  Originally established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers and immigrants, District Six was a vibrant center with close links to the city and the port.  By the beginning of the twentieth century, the process of forced removals and marginalization had begun.  The first to be “resettled” were black South Africans, forcibly displaced from the District in 1901.  As the more prosperous moved away to the suburbs, the area became a neglected ward of Cape Town. In 1966 it was declared a white area under the Group Areas Act of 1950, and by 1982, the life of the community was over. 60 000 people were forcibly removed to barren outlying areas aptly known as the Cape Flats, and their houses in District Six were flattened by bulldozers. The District Six Museum, established in December 1994, works with the memories of these experiences and with the history of forced removals more generally.  The floor of the museum is covered with a big map of the district with hand written notes of former inhabitants, which indicate where their houses were located then. A well-known former resident is jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim, better known under his artist name Dollard Brand. Other pieces in the museum are old traffic signs, presentations of moments of history, lives of families, historical declarations and the demolition. The District Museum was AWESOME!  I was most inspired by the authenticity of its personal touch.  As I person that loves photography, I was drawn by the personal pictures attached with the personal stories.  It made me aware that there were not a lot of black people in District Six and it appears that it was mainly coloreds that resided there.  Yet, their story of struggle was no different than the black struggle. Hearing Ebraheim’s (our tour guide) personal story was more instrumental to me than any book that I could ever read about District Six.  What struck me most was how he explained how a family would leave home for work and school and come back to a vacant lot.  Nothing I’ve read has ever described it in that manner.  Hearing Ebraheim’s story, coupled with the personal stories that I read in the museum, really put me there and I must say really angered me.  Even though these were stories of the past, I can strongly understand the feelings of the people that choose not to have any affiliations with the rebuilding of District Six.  You’ll never understand a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  I am well aware of my ancestors walk in the same mile and I am very much aware of their struggle, so I strongly understand and can relate to the struggle of District Six.

You know I had to sit on this bench

I was drawn to the “Resistance” section of the Museum

Our Tour Guide, Ebraheim

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August 11 & 12 – Eleventh & Twelveth Day in Cape Town

August 11

August 11 was a study day for us, because we had a paper due on August 12.  Besides from going to our favorite restaurant, Café Extrablatt, we spent most of our day and night inside writing our papers.

August 12 – We started our day with class, of course.  Then we were escorted by Luke Angel to shop at wholesale places on Long Street.  Luke was previously an African Art Salesman and knows all of the ins and outs of buying African art.  One of the stores we visited was Pan African Market, which seems like a Sam’s Club for African art.  They had everything you could possibly think of and yet I wasn’t able to find much that I wanted.  The one bag I did buy is currently tearing up as I speak.

Our favorite meal at Cafe’ Extrablatt

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During our shopping tour, we stopped at RCaffe’, which is an unsuspecting restaurant and coffee shop in the heart of Long Street serving gourmet sandwiches and croissants, for lunch.  I had a Peri Peri Chicken wrap that was pretty good.  We all shared a chocolate cupcake that was to die for!

Perii Peri Chicken Wrap

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Later, we went for dinner and a play at the Baxter Theatre Center at the University of Cape Town called “Hayani,” which means “home” in Venda.  The play explored what home meant in South Africa and investigated the stories of two unique South Africans to reveal a complex, honest and moving journey towards understanding themselves as South Africans and what it means to be South African.  Atandwa Kani, originally from New Brighton in Port Elizabeth, and Nat Ramabulana, from Thohoyandou in Limpopo, weaved personal narratives against the joyous transitional years in South Africa.  They were excellent entertainers as they played each other’s parents and siblings, turning the performance space into an interactive playground of very personal memories. With live music on stage, they took us on a magical journey of intimate and beautiful storytelling.

The stage for “Hayani”
We couldn’t take pictures of the play

The live music in the play

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August 10 – Tenth Day in Cape Town

Today we took our Mid-term exam; not one of our favorite activities, but its part of the process (international learning)!148 149 161

Later we went to dinner with Luke Angels, Director of African Angels Tours.  We dined at Café Extrablatt for the first time and it has become me and my flatmates most favorite place to eat!

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After dinner we were escorted by Kay-Lin Hermanus and her friend Amy to experience the night life of Cape Town.  When I’m home in America, I don’t go out for the night life; never was something I enjoyed doing.  I decided to go; just for the experience, to see how it was.  Remember, I’m out here experiencing and this was the experience for the day. We caught a taxi to Long Street, which is a major street located in the City Bowl section of Cape Town.  It is famous as a bohemian hang out and the street is lined with many book stores, various ethnic restaurants and bars.  Some of the clubs we barhopped to were Abantu Lodge & Backpacker, Bob’s and The Dubliner (to name a few).  At one of the clubs, we met a guy that was from Chicago and man he had that “Dougie” down; he was jamming!   In my opinion, it was pretty much the same as it was home; no one asks others to dance.  If they dance, they dance with the people they came with or by themselves; which is why I never understood the purpose of going out.  Again in my opinion, it’s more like a meat market, where people come out just to check each other out.  Different country, same concept.

Amy & Kay-Lin

The guys we met from Chicago; doing the “Dougie!”

By this time I had had enough of the night life, so Jaime, Anna and I got a ride home from Kay-Lin’s boyfriend.      175 176 173 174 178 179