Rhythms of a Childhood / Motorcycle Diaries: South Africa



Hey Mr. Omari... Tell me where you been? I've been around the world but I'll be back again....

Until the philosophy, which holds one race superior and another… Inferior, is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned...

From our house we hear dancehall... Heads High, King of the Dancehall, She Nuh Ready Yet, but I continue to sing this song as I travel through the towns of South Africa. Brother Bob… From Cape Town to Lwandle, I cannot say that I’ve ever seen and experienced racism as blatantly as I have in the past 3 days. Black people serving white people faster and more consistently than the coloreds or blacks sitting across the restaurant or bar occurs every day. There is no denying that the effects of Apartheid are alive and well in SA. Discussions arise around the Civil Rights Movement in the US and we draw parallels daily. Slavery ended the 1860s and it took 100 years for the Civil Rights Movement. Well, Apartheid ended in the early 1990s when Nelson Mandela took over. Does this mean that SA has at least 100 years before THEIR Civil Rights Movement comes? Before THEIR X or Luther comes? (Maybe Mr. Barack will be the international X and Luther, wishful thinking).

Oye Africa, meet me in Africa...

I continue to sing this song as I travel through the towns of South Africa. You may not be familiar with this one. I envision my auntie singing in the band and my dad with a saxophone hanging from his neck singing in front of the band. We took a walk through the slums today. Nothing new that I haven’t seen, but I listened and watched as my classmates were awe struck and making what I like to refer to as the boo boo face. But, these are the same slums that I walked through to get to my grandma’s house in Kenya. They strategically walked over the feces and pulled out their cameras to take pictures of the wood shacks, before realizing that they may be out of place if they take a picture. Is this Africa my father was telling you and me to meeting him in? If yes, would you be willing to meet him there?

Until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes...

I continue to sing this song as I travel through the towns of South Africa. Tomorrow we go out into the Lwandle community to talk to the people. Our professor decided this would be good to do after the concern of a community’s museum not representing the people in the way they should be represented arose. We’ll see how this goes tomorrow. There are many barriers to overcome, language, dialect, trust (why would they trust me)? This is difficult to do in that the museum must represent the people and their struggle and trust must be established between the museum and the community. From there ownership will grow and the community will take hold and gain sentimental value to this museum. This could take days, weeks, months, years… my guess is that it will take years long after I’ve gone home and traveled to other parts of the world (gotta get those stamps up). I think this may speak to BB Source’s comments a bit as well.

You know I always have more to say but I have to cut it off at some point... Allow me to finish the above song... EVERYWHERE IS WAR!!!

PS. The growth continues. As I lay on my bed now, I’m picking up on bits and pieces of a debate/conversation between three classmates about our experiences today.

Signing off...

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