Cape town

I spent my last few two days in South Africa in the beautiful city of Cape Town. Compared to Durban the parts of Cape Town I saw were very touristy and European. The city is in between the ocean and the mountains. So anywhere you go the views are breathtaking. Speaking of mountains, let’s talk about that one time when I hiked Table Mountain. You read right I was climbing mountains. First of all, I never thought I would be climbing any body’s mountain ever. But there I was at 5:20pm fresh off the plane ready to climb Table Mountain like the good tourist I was trying to be.

Table Mountain
Table Mountain

About ten minutes later as I started huffing and puffing I realized, I am climbing a mountain. Then an hour later I was like, oh my God, I’m climbing a mountain.

Me on Table Mountain
Me on Table Mountain

I stopped and sat on the mountain several times before I got to the top. I had not intended to test my physical endurance or sweat that day. Each time I sat down I realized how quiet the mountain was, I could only hear me breathing and some birds chirping. There was no WiFi, no artificial noise, and no distractions. The higher I climbed the more beautiful the scenery.

View from the mountain
View from the mountain

As I got closer to the top I wondered, what if I worked this hard to climb every mountain in my life? How often do I complain about working so hard to accomplish X, Y, or Z? Or sit on the sidelines because something is too physically demanding?

Last stretch of the hike
Last stretch of the hike

Yet there I was climbing a mountain, using every muscle in my body, sweating like crazy just trying to make it to the top and entranced by the beauty that surrounded me. I thought, what if instead of complaining I worked hard and enjoyed the views on the way to the top of the mountain? I realized that sometimes it is not about the destination but the journey to the destination.

Top of Table Mountain
Top of Table Mountain

When I got to the top of the mountain, the view of the sun setting was all worth the sweat and physical exertion to get there. Later, I took the cable car down from the mountain. On the way down I realized that if I had taken the car up to the top instead of climbing the mountain, the view at the top would not have been as meaningful to me.

Sitting on Table Mountain
Sitting on Table Mountain

Cape Town is a beautiful city, nothing like my Durban but still breath taking. I will always remember Cape Town as the place that I hiked my first mountain. I look forward to climbing many more mountains in life.

A piece of my soul…

South Coast
South Coast

Why did I go to South Africa? The answer to that question has changed dramatically since I left for Durban on August 20th.  I went to South Africa to focus on the racial history of the country to get an international perspective on race. I spent some time intentionally pondering race in South Africa but not as much as I thought I would. Instead I jumped head first into trying to figure out everything about the country. What I mean is, I thought I would spend all my time learning about Black and white relations, but I learned about informal housing settlements, the education system, and resource distribution within the country that is impacted by race along with so many other factors within the government. I received so much more of a broad overview of the country than I had anticipated or planned.

I did not intentionally go to South Africa to figure out my seminary goals and aspirations but that is exactly what I spent most of my time doing. I now know that I want to go into church ministry. I realize that God’s people are the Church so if I want to impact the world for Jesus then I need to get with His people. Although the Church is not the only way to do ministry, it is the place for me and I realized this in South Africa.

I did not expect to care about the environment especially water accessibility but now I do. I know that it is a privilege to turn on the faucet and have water especially hot water come out of it. Everyone around the world does not have this privilege for various reasons whether it’s the area they’re in doesn’t have adequate piping or they are in a drought, water accessibility is a privilege.

I never expected to fall in love with the Zulu language, people and culture but I did. My one regret from my time in South Africa is that I did not finish learning Zulu but to be honest there was no time. So that just means I have to return with the sole purpose of learning Zulu. But as evidenced by this blog even if I return just to learn Zulu I’m sure I will learn so much more about South Africa and myself.

It is strange to be going back. Now as I focus on returning I think back on my original reasons for coming to South Africa. I had no idea that in going to South Africa I would confirm my seminary aspirations, learn more about myself and how I fit into the world and fall in love with the most beautiful country I’ve ever been to.

South Africa was my first experience outside of the U.S. and the country is far from perfect but truly a piece of my soul is now in South Africa. Just as a part of Winnie Mandela’s soul was with Nelson Mandela while he was in prison, my soul is with the lovely and beautiful South Africa.

South Coast
South Coast

Review of Durban

Here are the top five things I loved about Durban, South Africa:

1. Midnight walks on the beach

IMG_0692
Night view from my balcony

I lived in Windermere flats my last month in Durban. My apartment overlooked the ocean and the city skyline. So of course one of my favorite things to do at night was walk along the beach. The night atmosphere on North Beach is totally different from the daytime. It’s still lively at times especially on the weekends but usually it’s peaceful. When I walked along the beach, it was just me, the stars, the moon, the ocean and God. I will miss that time immensely.

2. Rolling hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal

Rolling hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Rolling hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal

As you leave eThekwini (aka Durban) in the direction of the more rural areas, you will see what I call the “rolling hills” of Kwa-Zulu Natal. It is literally endless green hills on either side of the highway for miles around. The hills get higher and the valleys lower as you go further into the rural areas and its just greenery everywhere. The most amazing part of the rolling green hills is that South Africa is in a drought right now. But somehow, aka Jesus has kept those plants alive and well so that they continue to flourish despite the heat and decrease in water supply.

3. Homestay Families

Dokodweni host family
Dokodweni host family

Shout-out to my home stay families for putting up with this crazy kid for weeks on end. My host families were my personal glimpses into the lives and cultures of the people of Kwa-Zulu Natal. My host families were warm and welcoming people. They went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable. I will miss each one of them for various reasons but mainly because each home stay was a new adventure and opportunity to grow. For example, in my rural home stay I learned that water is not an indispensable resource that everyone has access to. It was so humbling to see the empty water tanks of my rural host family then to experience a five-minute rain shower and to realize the next morning that the water tanks still are not full. For me, coming from my U.S. privileged background where I can just turn on the tap to get water whenever I want, I had to ponder the fact that everyone cannot waste water as I do because there is not enough water to waste. I will never forget that experience and my crazy host mama.

4. Tea Time

Rooibos tea
Rooibos tea

If you know me, you know I do not like coffee or Europe’s colonization of the world. So an ironic highlight from Durban, brought to the area by the English, is its tea culture. When I was doing research at the Archdiocese of Durban Chancery, I enjoyed the 10am and 3pm tea breaks. It was a time to socialize, take a break from work and just distress. Also Rooibos tea is divine, it’s so delicious. If I ever start an organization, Tea Time will definitely be incorporated into the daily activities of the company.

5. Program People

Me and my Academic Advisor
Me and my Academic Advisor

Lastly, but this should have been first, the people at SIT in Durban’s Social and Political Transformation program are amazing human beings. They work themselves into the ground to make the experiences of the students memorable. I could talk about them for days but I won’t right now. Just know that the program would not function without the vision of Imraan, the organization of Shola, the commitment of Sdu and the tireless efforts of Scott. Each of them holds a special place in my heart.

Well there it is folks…my top 5 of Durban.

One night on the beach

Night view from my balcony
Night view from my balcony

One night I was on the beach

It was a dream but I was in reality and You were speaking to my reality

You said, “I am sovereign

Look at the waves, my galloping horses of the sea

See how mighty they come but they cannot surpass Me

They cannot cross the line that I have set for them”

You said, “I am with you

Look at your footprints in the sand

Am I not carrying you?

I will not leave you nor forsake you”.

Then the waves of the sea came and washed the footprints away

And you said, “See the sands of time have washed away.

One moment your footprints are here the next they are gone.”

And I replied “Lord this is too much for me, too weighty to understand.”

Then you said “I am God!”

And as I looked out over the waves of the sea

I knew that everything would be alright with me

As long as He is alright with me

My footprints in the sand
My footprints in the sand

Ya’ll I’ve been thinking a lot about life after South Africa and how much I need to do or should be doing to prepare for next semester. But God is Sovereign! He knew I would be in South Africa in this moment in this time. God has everything under control. He’s working some things out in my mind and heart in regards to ministry. And honestly I’m afraid what the future will bring because it’s so uncertain. But, I have to choose to obey God not my fears. So come what may, waves of life. When it’s all said and done and my footprints in the sand are no more, as long as God is pleased with my life then that’s all that matters.

 

 

DREADLOCKS!

I love dreadlocks!

Loc Style 1              Loc Style 2

I wanted to lock my hair since I went natural four years ago. So when I arrived in South Africa and saw all the people with dreadlocks I figured why not get locks in Durban. Therefore on Saturday November 14, 2015 I woke up at 6am to make my dream come true.

Photo on 11-14-15 at 6.55 AM           Photo on 11-14-15 at 6.56 AM #2

Dreadlocks are a permanent style so I was filled with anxiety as I rode the bus to XTLS salon. I knew that I wanted to lock my hair but I did not know if I could explain to the stylist the size I wanted my locks to be or if my hair’s uneven length would be a problem. Also, there’s the language barrier with me not knowing fluent Zulu yet everyone assuming I know Zulu because I’m Black. So, I was just preparing my mind and heart for this interesting experience.

I arrived at XTLS at 7:45am. I told them I wanted my hair twisted and styled. My name was taken down and I was shown to chair. While I sat in the chair for ten minutes all my feelings of hesitation surfaced. I thought, is this really what I want to do? Then as the stylist picked my hair out I thought, will I miss my afro? I won’t be able to straighten my hair for graduation? Is this the right decision for me? Well when I went to the back of the salon so she could wash my hair I knew there was no turning back because I was not leaving the salon with wet hair. Despite the fact that it was raining outside and my hair was going to be wet anyway, I was still not leaving the salon without my hair styled on principle. So I calmed my nerves and enjoyed the experience. And it was fantastic!

My stylist washed, deep conditioned and blow-dried my hair before 9:30am. Then came time to actually lock my hair. Now if you look at the picture above you will see that I have a lot of hair. So I told my stylist, “You are either going to really love me or hate me after this,” she laughed and explained that she locked someone else’s hair that was longer than mine last week so she was not intimidated. Then I tried to explain my concerns to her in regards to the size of my locks and my various hair lengths to which she responded, “Ok.” In Zulu “Ok” can be the response to “Thank you”, a sign of confusion or a reassurance that everything will be fine. I took it as the latter and watched her start locking my hair. When she finished the back I looked up to see that my locks were perfect. In my mind I was screaming with glee because I could not believe I was getting my hair locked in South Africa. I did it! By the time she finished locking and styling my hair, I knew that I made the right decision.

Photo on 11-14-15 at 2.07 PM #3 Photo on 11-14-15 at 2.07 PM Photo on 11-14-15 at 2.08 PM Photo on 11-14-15 at 2.08 PM #3 Photo on 11-14-15 at 2.08 PM #4

Locking my hair is the gift to myself from South Africa that will keep on giving. Now I can always say I locked my hair in Durban. I’m so excited for the many styles to come.

Living in discomfort

steve-biko-cultureWanna hear an irony everyone? The more I am in Durban the more I understand white Americans discomfort in entering other cultural spaces. On Monday, October 27th, I went to a Black Consciousness talk about Black Consciousness and democracy. I didn’t really know what to expect, so when the host introduced the first speaker Chumani Maxwele I was really excited. Chumani is one of the leaders of the #Rhodesmustfall and #feesmustfall movements happening currently at the universities in South Africa. Chumani began his talk speaking in Zulu. Now I’m thinking, ok cool eventually he’ll speak in English right? Nope, Zulu all the way! My reaction is two folds of irritation. One, I’m irritated at him for choosing to only speak in Zulu when he knows that everyone who came to hear him doesn’t know Zulu. At the same time, I’m irritated at myself for not knowing more Zulu. And as soon as I mentally processed my irritation, I immediately had to put my English and American privilege in check. I mean was I not at a Black Consciousness talk? Speaking unapologetically in one’s native tongue regardless of who knows it challenges English and white normalcy which is one of the main aims of Black Consciousness especially in South Africa.

Back at Hope when I was in BSU, I would often be frustrated by the constant need to plan events that would be inclusive of everyone i.e. white students, instead of doing whatever we wanted and letting people sit in their discomfort. My rationale was, it’s not your space so just be uncomfortable for an hour. Well friends, in that Black Consciousness talk I had to eat my own words because it was uncomfortable to not know what was going on. For twenty minutes I was an outsider. But here’s the thing, that’s OK. Sometimes the message is not for me and it is a privilege to think that as an American and an English speaker I will be catered to at all times. (Check out the end of my blog on Mozambique for more of my thoughts on language)

As the night continued everyone eventually got into small groups to discuss the presentations by the speakers. At the end each group was asked to have a representative speak for the group summarizing what the group talked about. One of the ladies asked me to speak. I said, “ No, I’m an American.” She looked at me strangely then said, “Ok.” Later she told me, “I’ve never heard an American not speak because they are American.” Her comment made me think about spaces and whose space is it? In that space it’s not my place to voice my opinions. It’s my place to listen and learn. That’s the posture I wish more Americans had because it’s not always for us to speak. Sometimes we need to sit, listen and just live in discomfort. As someone who has been trying to navigate Black African spaces as a Black American, I understand to a degree how difficult it is to live in uncomfortable spaces. You don’t want to offend people but at the same time you want to engage everyone. You want to be equals but you are aware of power dynamics even within a conversation. There may be a language or cultural barrier that you wish you could overcome by learning the language or culture but you don’t want to appropriate or disrespect the culture. At the end of the day, it takes a lot to enter those spaces but you know what we have to. Why? Because not entering uncomfortable spaces gets us nowhere quick. All the above concerns may never change but entering spaces of discomfort changes you. Seeing how it feels on the other side of the privilege coin makes one that much more aware and humble in all future interactions. So maybe I won’t just tell the white students at Hope to suck it up and get over themselves. But I will never stop encouraging people to live in the uncomfortable spaces of life.

 

“Now watch me whip, watch me nae-nae…”

Ok all, prepare your minds and hearts for a bit of a rant. After being in South Africa for two months, I wonder if Americans fully understand the pervasiveness of American popular (pop) culture globally. What do I mean? Well I’ll bet, and I’m not a betting person, that you can walk up to any kid in South Africa and start singing the “Watch Me” song and they will begin singing with you. Now every single South African kid may not know that song but most of them probably do, even kids in rural areas. Why you ask? Because American pop culture is everywhere! I was shocked when my Colored (in South Africa “Colored” is a race so, chill politically correct people, I got this) host parents started playing R&B artists Joe, BoyzIIMen and Brandy. I was like, what do they know about that?! My Colored homestay parents’ friend even remarked about how anytime John Legend, Rihanna, or Michael Jackson came to Durban the stadiums were packed. Yet, in that same conversation I could not think of one South African artist that I knew before coming to South Africa. Not one! Now I know a few but I still know only 5 South African artists and that’s after being here for two months.

With the monopoly America has on global pop culture, one has to congratulate any international artist that Americans know, because when Americans know you, that’s when you’ve made it. I know a few people in the U.S. trying to make it into the music industry and the more I’m in South Africa the more I understand the appeal. If you make it into the U.S. mainstream then you, automatically have an international fan base. I mean so international that kids who barely have running water, know your songs. The gravity of that fact is insane.

Another food for thought is how hard it must be for local South African artist to make it globally. If an artist is South African famous, they can walk around the streets of America with no problem because being South African famous does not equate to American famous. Whereas if Kanye West or Beyoncé stroll into Durban, everyone and their mama is going to want to get a picture with them. And to an extent with the pervasiveness of American pop culture, even if you are South African famous you might not be South African famous that is to say being famous in Durban doesn’t mean you are famous in Jozi aka Johannesburg. As a local South African artist where do you fit? Because, to be honest, even the rejects of America have a place at the international table from music to movies even TV shows, for example, I’ve seen a few Black sitcoms that I use to watch years ago, on TV running as current series instead of re-runs. I’m not ranting like this to have a completely let’s critique America fest. All I want to say is that Americans need to fully grasp the weight of our reach. Ok, America has a monopoly on pop culture, so what are we going to do about it? Our influence is insane and I think we take it too lightly. We shouldn’t. We should be using that influence for good as often as we can. To be fair people do, some celebrities are great philanthropist. But we can always do more and be conscious of what we are sending out to the rest of the world. That’s all I’m saying.

Learning to be present…

When I arrived in Johannesburg almost two months ago, my academic director kept reiterating the idea of being present in South Africa for the time that we are here. He began to explain that South Africa is not as Wi-Fi connected as the US therefore; my peers and I should try to adjust to our limited access but also embrace it so that we could “land” in South Africa and not straggle in the US. With this information, I planned to slowly ease myself off of my Wi-Fi connection but first I wanted to do this and that. Oh how my plans changed…

Within the first month of my arrival in Durban my Samsung Galaxy S5 got stolen or lost. One minute I had it in my pocket the next it was gone. And ok fine I can live without my phone but I’m still responsible for taking pictures for my blog so now what do I do? I had to use other people’s cameras and that was helpful but complicated so I eventually got my own camera. Ok, now I’m back on top of the world right? Nope! A few weeks later my computer’s CD drive just stops working. As a result, I had to take it to an apple store to get it fixed. And let’s just say that was not cheap. Ok, computer fixed now I’m on top of the world, oh contraire. My CD drive stops working again but I was headed to my rural homestay for a week so it would have to wait to be fixed. And for the icing on the cake, while I’m enjoying my rural homestay, I go to the beach and forget my South African phone is in my pocket so that, of course, it gets water damaged and no longer works. Now how do I interpret all of these events? Why am I explaining all of this? Who really cares?

This blog is titled, “Learning to be present” because in each one of these electronic mishaps I had to learn to be present in the moment in a different way. For example, when I went to the South Coast, it was the first significant experience I had without my phone to take pictures. Someone lent me their camera but I had never used a camera like that so I did not take a lot of my own photos. Instead I relied on others to capture the moment while I enjoyed every moment. Instead of worrying about capturing the right angle, I just reveled in the natural beauty of the place. I walked along the beach, breathing in the ocean air. I was awestruck by how a place that beautiful could exist. And I can honestly say I fully enjoyed the experience of the South Coast.

As I learned to be present, I also wrestled with this notion of learning to be quiet and fully disconnect. I’ve already mentioned that South Africa overall is not as Wi-Fi connected as the states. Well, that translates to all of my homestays being without Wi-Fi. So what do I do during those moments of no Facebook, email or Skype? Once again I am forced to experience my surroundings up close and personal. I am forced to be quiet, alone with my thoughts, journal or read a book. These moments of quiet have become so important to my time here in ways I could not anticipate. For example, while in my Cato Manor homestay, I finished reading Forgive Us, in which the authors, who are leaders in the evangelical church, admit ways that the church has failed in regards to race, gender, homosexuality etc. The authors ask the people the church has hurt to “forgive us”. The book has of course more depth and complexity but while I was reading it, I realized that the church can be and should be God’s vehicle to move on earth. This realization has led to my current research project that will involve me studying how a specific church community in Durban engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle. I hope to see how God used or didn’t use this church community to change the community and society.

I write all of this to explain that my journey to presence and quiet was not easy nor was it my idea. But I believe that God has taught me and allowed me to engage with Durban in a way that I have never engaged with a new experience before. I have been forced out of my comfort zone on so many levels and learned to accept it. To face each day as a new adventure whether the experience is great or not so great it does not matter because the point is to be there in the moment. I would encourage everyone to be present because once the moment is gone it’s gone but that’s ok if we learn to be present.

Mozambique there and back again

Maputo beachfront
Maputo beachfront

September 20-23rd, my peers and I drove to Maputo, Mozambique from Durban, South Africa in order to get an on the ground look at the relationship between South Africa (ANC) and Mozambique (Frelimo) during and post apartheid. In order to get to Maputo we crossed the South African border into Swaziland then from Swaziland into Maputo. The journey was an all day venture and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for several reasons.

First, crossing an African border on land is an experience for the books. To cross an African border on land as an American is such a rare experience because usually one just flies into another country. I have my reasons for not going more in detail about the experience but I will say that it’s a totally different experience crossing countries on land and it’s definitely eye opening and a must do for Americans.

Another reason, I would repeat this trip is Maputo is it is an amazing little city. The Portuguese colonized Mozambique, so there is an Afro-Latino feel to the city. Compared to Durban, Maputo is ‘turn-up’ central. I would describe Durban as a sort of sleepy city like Holland, MI where as Maputo is like Chicago, the city that never sleeps. I mean you will find droves of people walking around Maputo at anytime of the day everyday of the week, it’s amazing. I think Maputo and Durban are good complimenting cities, in the sense that if you live in one you should vacation in the other for your sanity :).

Stature of Samora Machel aka Nelson Mandela of Mozambique
Stature of Samora Machel aka Nelson Mandela of Mozambique

A third reason to return to Maputo is the history of the place. I already mentioned that the Portuguese colonized Mozambique and fun fact the Communist party Frelimo liberated Mozambique in 1975. Mozambique being Communist created a strenuous relationship between itself, apartheid South Africa and the US if you can imagine back in the Cold War. Fear of Communism led the apartheid South African and US governments to support Renamo, the opposition to Frelimo. Frelimo and Renamo had a bloody civil war for 12 years in which whole parts of Maputo were bombed and 1 million Mozambicans died. Complete craziness!

IMG_2206
Matola Memorial Monument- pillars commemorate frontline states

Meanwhile, Frelimo completely supported the ANC’s struggle for liberation during apartheid. So much so that uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) the armed part of the ANC, had camps in Mozambique. And when the South African government bombed several of the MK secret houses, in the Matola Raid, the leader of Frelimo at the time, Samora Machel, told Oliver Tambo, the President of the ANC, to “Let them come.” Mozambique would take the hits for South Africa’s freedom struggle because it was not just about Mozambique, or South Africa’s freedom but all of Southern Africa’s freedom from colonization. To continue on this note, there is a beautiful history of struggle among the frontline states of South Africa i.e. Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia etc. All of these countries struggled together at one point or another for their freedoms. In addition, while we were in Maputo, we visited the Matola Monument and Interpretative Centre that commemorates the relationships between the frontline states. The Centre hones in on the Matola Raid, thus our visit to the MK houses that were attack.

One of the houses attacked during Matola Raid
One of the houses attacked during Matola Raid
Bullet holes on the balcony of the house
Bullet holes on the balcony of the house

But I think the Centre’s main focus is to help the front line states remember their relationship as all the countries press forward in their own perspective ways. It’s so important to remember the histories of struggle especially in times of xenophobia when Mozambicans can be killed in South Africa for no other reason then they are foreigners. It’s so important to remember.

My fourth reason for returning to Maputo is language. After liberation from the Portuguese,  Frelimo wanted to unify the country, so they decide to make Portuguese the official language. Now taking on the colonizer’s language has it own implications but the point is most people in Maputo speak Portuguese. Oh and might I mention only Portuguese, like they are not trying to learn English anytime soon. So here I am, barely learning Zulu and now I am thrust into a Portuguese speaking environment with very little English available anywhere. This teaches me several things. First, I am humbled because I think as an English speaker, there is the arrogance that everyone speaks English or at least wants to learn English and that’s not true. Second, that language really is a bridge and a barrier when entering new spaces. It’s one thing to not know the culture, but if you the know the language at least you can ask questions. But if you don’t know the culture or the language, you run the risk of being perceived as rude, arrogant or just a silly American tourist. Lastly, while in Maputo we had the privilege of listening in on a lecture at the Frelimo party, the lecture was in Portuguese. Listening to the lecture, I got a peak into what a study abroad program based in a non-English speaking university would have been like for me. I would have learned Portuguese for sure but it would have been a challenging adjustment yet equally as valuable experience as my current program, that being said, I am very certain everyday that this program is for me, no worries.

In conclusion, Maputo is the place to be, all should go. Learn a little Portuguese before you go there or it will be a struggle but an exciting time nonetheless. I love Maputo, if you did not already know this. It’s the bomb diggity even though Durban holds my heart, Maputo will forever be one of my favorite places.

Getting over homesickness & Some touristy moments

Sawubona (hello or I see you in Zulu) Friends and Family,

Hope all is well in the US of A.

So it’s week 3 here in Durban, can you believe it?! I know I can’t, sometimes I feel like I just got here and sometimes like I’ve been here for 6 months. But anyway let’s talk about these 3 weeks shall we…

Ok, so for like a good week I was homesick. Now some may say, “Hey that’s cool, all part of the process” but while I was homesick I felt terrible. Knowing its part of the process is one thing but living and breathing it is a whole other matter. It was not until I talked to my family and friends that I remembered, “Hey kid, you are only here for a few months. It’s ok to be homesick but don’t forget to enjoy this time. Don’t chicken out…” And once I got that pep talk and remembered that the good Jesus is with me no matter where I go on His green earth (Psalms 23)…I was set! Now don’t get me wrong every now and again I still get home sick but now I just remember why I’m here and whose here with me and I can smile again, ready to face whatever the day brings…and man has it been bringing great things.

So two Saturdays ago, I went to my host dad or Baba son’s wedding. It was a “white” wedding or more of a Western traditional wedding, then later that night it transitioned to a more Zulu traditional wedding. (Sorry no pictures, I forgot my phone) The wedding was beautiful, however it was all in Zulu. So I got like .5% of what was going on but that’s ok friends, never fear. After the wedding I kind of decided that I think I want to actually learn Zulu, like for more than just an academic venture but to actually learn it to be able to speak with the good Zulu people here in the South of Africas – sooooo we will see how this all turns out by the end of the semester.

On a touristy note, Durban hosted the World Cup in 2010. The stadium is called Moses Mabhida and you can go to the top of the stadium on the SkyCar. Now anyone who knows me, knows me and heights DO NOT MIX EVER. But while in Durban, live it up so below are some pictures of me with the beautiful Durban skyline and beach front behind me…

Me on the top of Moses Mabhida Stadium
Me on the top of Moses Mabhida Stadium
The beautiful Durban coast/skyline
The beautiful Durban coast/skyline

Also the stadium is of course controversial depending on who you talk to in regards to the cost of the stadium, did it really help or harm the locals especially the Black people? But this conversation differs depending on whom you talk to if you get my drift….

Ok enough controversy for one post. On another touristy note, please see pictures of me at the beach and not just any beach the Indian Ocean beach…I’ve never seen the ocean so that was really cool.

First time in the ocean
First time in the ocean

Also, I went to Durban Day this Sunday, which is just a big concert with Durban artist and other South African artist. So of course, I knew no one there but I had a great time and got a green Crème Soda…please see the image below of my green tongue as proof.

Green tongue, don't care lol
Green tongue, don’t care lol

Now for all of those thinking…”Hey, this kid, is not in school. She’s just vacationing” Oh au contraire, mon fere…I have been trying to figure out what I will be doing for my Independent Study Research Project (ISP) in November. I am tossing around ideas about maybe doing something with Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement. Or possibly an ISP about the Black student uprisings on university campuses here like Open Stellenbosch or the Wits 7. Some Black students here are really finding their voices and saying we are not going to the institutions, do better NOW! And you know I am in solidarity. I was also thinking of doing something with Winnie Mandela or other prominent Black women in the anti-apartheid movement because I feel like their voices are under-represented or misconstrued especially Winnie Mandela. But right now the top contender is something with Durban churches and looking into how they responded or didn’t respond to apartheid. And since I’m trying to do the seminary life after Hope College, the church project could be a really good thing. So all of this is up in the air right not friends but my mind is constantly churning. It’s not all beach fronts and concerts. 🙂

Ok, seriously missing everyone in the US of A. You all be well and keep me on your mind and hearts as you are ever on mine.

Hambani kahle (You all go well)