Today our guide was Arlene Hermanus; remember she was one of the people that greeted us at the Cape Town airport with Dr. Bredesen. Our first stop was to the (Cecil John) Rhodes Memorial, who was an English-born South African politician. He was the founder of the southern African territory of Rhodesia, which was named after him in 1895. South Africa’s Rhodes University is also named after him. His memorial stands on his favorite spot of Devil’s peak, with a view looking north and east towards the Cape to Cairo route.
His final will left a large area of land on the slopes of Table Mountain to the South African nation. Part of this estate became the main teaching campus (Upper Campus) of the University of Cape Town. Also, his last will and testament provided the establishment of the famous Rhodes scholarship, the world’s first international study program.
The University of Cape Town (UCT) has a beautiful campus as you can see. Dr. Bredesen told us that UCT is like our Harvard University. And that we saw, because we noticed that majority of them were driving Mercedes-Benzs and BMWs! Students must have it going on at the University of Cape Town, baby! Arlene said it has been said that the students cars are better than the professors!
Our next stop was to the Thembani Primary School in Langa, which is a suburb in Cape Town and one of the many areas in South Africa that were designated for Black Africans before the apartheid era. It is the oldest of such suburbs and the location of much resistance to apartheid. The name of the township is derived from the name of Langalibalele, a chief and renowned rainmaker who in 1873 was imprisoned on Robben Island for rebelling against the Natal government.
We had a special invitation from Gladys the Teacher to come to the school for a class in isiXhosa, which is one of the official languages in South Africa. It is a tonal language where consonants and vowels can have different meanings when said with a rising or falling or high or low intonation. One of the most distinctive features of the language is the prominence of click consonants like the word Xhosa that begins with a click.
Our instructor for our language class was the students! After meeting the principal, Gladys the Teacher took us into a classroom where we stood in front of the class and the children gave us a lesson. We would ask how to say something and they would volunteer to answer. We would repeat after them and when it sound as if we got it right, they clapped! It was fun for us and I’m sure it was fun for them, being the teacher. Dr. Bredesen asked them if they knew a song and they immediately start to sing it!
We were concerned if we could take pictures of the children and Gladys the Teacher said it was okay as long as we wasn’t using them for promotional reasons. And MAN, did those children like taking pictures! Jaime made the mistake and showed one of the kids the picture she had taken on her camera. When the other kids saw that she was showing it, they all swarmed all over Jaime to see! They LOVED taking pictures! I couldn’t snap them fast enough. The more we snapped, the more children came!
When we were waiting for Gladys the Teacher in the office, one of the students came right in, shook hands with Dr. Bredesen and introduced himself; like a little politician! They when we were leaving and the van was backing out, one of the students took it upon himself to direct the van out; like a little policeman! They were so cute and it just touched my heart!
Our next stop in Langa was the Guga S’Thebe Arts & Culture Center, which is a focal point for cultural improvement and empowerment. Community classes, including beadwork and the making of traditional garments and pottery are held there. I LOVED this Center! Here we were shown how the pottery was made, given a performance (enactment of two gentlemen experiencing their first day exercising their right to vote) and my most favorite; a drum lesson! I LOVED the drum lesson; it was so fun and we were jamming! Zamile was our tour guide for the Center, one of the performers in the performance and has become my first Facebook friend from South Africa!
Our last stop in Langa was a walk down the street to Eziko Restaurant, which helps to provide the unemployed with vocational skills in cooking. We went to have malva pudding and tea. Malva pudding is a sweet pudding of Cape Dutch origin, usually served with custard and/or ice cream. It is made with apricot jam and has a spongy caramelized texture. It was our first time having it, so it was cool to us; but Dr. Bredesen told us that she has had better.
It was another AMAZING day!!
Memorial of Cecil John Rhodes
The group at the Cecil John Rhodes Memorial
Notice my walking stick
The view from the Rhodes Memorial
Thembani Primary School’s Principal
The students, who were are teachers in a Xhosa lesson
The students singing to us
The student’s teacher with our instructor, Dr. Murphy
Their computer lab
Their computer teacher
Gladys the Teacher
Arlene, Dr. Bredesen, Gladys the Teacher and Dr. Murphy
The pottery teacher
Getting a drum lesson
Check us out; we were jamming!!
Malva pudding with custard