Day 14 - South Africa is supposed to be a developing nation, but some things we've experienced here we have never experienced before in America, a developed nation. There is a kindness that encapsulates most people, and the unfettered core qualities of the people here are absolutely profound: void of jealousy and individuality and overflowing with love, commitment, support, and a selflessness that goes beyond belief. We are baffled at the pure nature of the people, reminiscence of a child who has not yet become gruntled by a harsh society. They have displayed values that must have persisted throughout time, from one generation to the next.
I always knew that people like this must exist in abundance somewhere in the world, and I have found these people in South Africa. Life in Africa is beautiful.
Tiffany & Kennard
Day 13 - We feel like we are on top of the world because coming to South Africa is showing us just how connected this world really is, so it is as if we are viewing the world at a distance from a microscope. Not only are the American music, movies, and businesses in high demand, but also even an American Actress Tarji P. Henson and Actor Terrance Howard are here visiting South Africa promoting the FOX series Empire. The British/American Actor Idris Elba, is in South Africa filming the Steven King movie that he's in called, "The Dark Tower." American Singer Regina Bell is coming later this month and Nicki Minaj visited Africa for the first time after coming to South Africa in May.
Further, the passing of the American boxing legend Muhammad Ali on June 3rd, was covered extensively by local South African radio and television stations. He resonates with the South Africans who truly honor Nelson Mandela, along with the world, because he too was a boxer and an icon, constantly fighting for human rights just like Mohammad Ali. The American government took away Ali's title and they tried to take away his livelihood, but like Nelson Mandela's story, justice prevailed. So the connections between Africa and America are everywhere, but human rights is a global issue, and all of us must continue to fight for human rights.
So this big world, doesn't seem to be so big after all.
Tiffany & Kennard
Day 11 - There are so many hairstyles among the women of South Africa, that it would leave any woman in a state of wonderment: how in the world did she do that, how can she make the hair swirl like that, how is it that the women have so many creative styles? When we went to Joburg CBD (Central Business District), we got a chance to see how some of the magic happens, right at the African markets in the open; where men and women braid, twist, and manipulate African women's hair! All-the-while, many people were passing, looking for goods to buy at the market. These beauticians were at nearly every corner outside on the sidewalk and inside small shops, that you now see how the women can wear so many elaborate styles because the beauticians are everywhere!
Tiffany & Kennard 2016
Day 7 - At the airport in Washington DC, we noticed that there were a lot of people from diverse places who were lining up to catch the flight to South Africa. Since our arrival in Joburg, we have seen many Africans from various countries across the continent, Indians, Arabs, Europeans, Asians, and of course, we are there too, Americans. So there are many people across the world in South Africa, but why is Africa so popular? This is not what one would expect to see based on the traditional stereotypical way that Africa is portrayed, but in recent news reports, Africa is dubbed as having many of the fastest growing economies.
Meanwhile, we've noticed an influx of many American or multi-national corporations here in Joburg, the center of economic activity in South Africa. Some of these businesses are McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, ShopRite, IBM, Coca Cola, Citi Bank, Apple, Nike, Walmart is here under a different name, Mass Mart, ect. Then when we went into the Mall of Africa, the largest mall in Africa which just opened in April of 2016, many of the stores were also American like Forever 21, Converse, Hush Puppies, Timberland, Claire's, Nine West, Starbucks, Polo, New Balance, and Adidas, etc; there were also businesses from Italy, Germany, France, ect. Apparently, Africa is the place for multinational corporations.
So It's important that we reframe the way we look at the continent, first by undoing many of the stereotypes (propaganda) that we may still believe about Africa, in order to understand the REAL Africa that exists. Plus, is it important for everyone to understand globalization and how Africa fits into our new world economy. As world citizens, it is important to do this, so we can always stand on the right side of history and come to the table as informed people who can make logical, noteworthy, and powerful contributions to the world in which we live in.
Tiffany & Kennard
Day 5 - Kennard really wanted to go to a traditional village, to gain inspiration for his art work by speaking to the Ndebele women of South Africa. Kennard is extremely creative and he is a master artist who creates clay busts and sculptures of the real, unique, and shapely figures of African women. So we were on a journey to find these Ndebele women, and today we found them, they are located less than one hour from Johannesburg. We also were able to go to a Zulu, Pedi, and Xhosa village. One of the Xhosa tribe's most well known figure is the late, Nelson Mandela and from the Zulu tribe is Shaka Zulu. I must say that this visit made us really feel connected to our roots and all the greatness that truly lies in Africa, which has absolutely nothing to do with material possessions.
Africa's greatness is not found in its paved roads, the tallest building in Africa (which is in Johannesburg), an impressive convention center (another Joberg attraction), the Mall of Africa (which was just built last month), or the number of Western businesses that it attracts, like McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks, Claire's, Guess, and Nine West, etc, but is instead found in its elaborate and vivid cultural systems. This is what makes Africa rich and what makes it stand out from the United States and all other continents in the world.
In fact, even though most people in South Africa speak English, there are 11 official languages of South Africa. So oftentimes the Africans speak about 11 languages and the common language for Black people to speak in is Zulu. If you are a Black person living in South Africa, some of the Black South Africans will expect you to know how to speak this language. This is the kind of pride and esteem that comes with knowing your history and culture. The fact that most Black people speak in Zulu, an African language, is something that can only be experienced in the Southern part of Africa. So you can't experience this in the United States or in Britain. However, it is oftentimes the qualities that are your greatest, which are the ones that are most difficult to see.
One very wise man, my late Uncle Ken Sampson said, "You can climb up the ladder and reach the top, but you discover you are on the wrong side of the building, so you have to come down, go around, and start all over again." Hopefully, Africans in Africa and those in the Diaspora will uphold African culture with the highest esteem, because that's what really makes Africa oh so special!
Tiffany & Kennard, 2016
Day 4 - We went to the Apartheid Museum and to the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum in one day, and we were totally unprepared for the emotional turmoil that would transpire at these locations. We had about 45 minutes to make it through the Apartheid museum and we didn't have enough time to go through all the information.
The museum was beautifully built, but there was a lingering coldness that came with the red bricks that lined the walls, and the pictures that were hanging on metal cages, representing South African's tortuous struggle. As we went through the museum quickly in an effort to make it all the way through, we eventually heard Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's voice permeating the room. Afterwards, we had to suddenly come to a halt after we were confronted with a room filled with nooses. 131 Nooses lined the ceiling. Instantly, I thought of the lynchings of Black men in America, but these nooses represented the people whom opposed the South African government--they were hanged due their disobedience of the state terrorism laws, the tactics were the same but the location was different. We had never experienced anything like this before or felt the kind of anguish that came with the vivid display of 131 nooses.
Even though we were running low on time, we slowly walked into the next room which had three life-sized screens showing video footage of the mass murder of protestors. Whether we turned our head to the left or to the right, we were overtaken by the footage of people frantically running, tear gas filling the screen, shootings, screams, blood and gore, and people of all ages were experiencing tremendous pain. It seemed like a bad movie that we had become a part of--although my heart was aching because this was not a reenacted movie, but instead it was real footage.
People were running for their life, some were injured, some were being carried away, others were lying on the ground, dead. It was as if our bodies had become motionless, and became lost in a timeless time. My heart was racing and we just couldn't take our eyes off the horror of apartheid. Our bodies were frozen but my mind was restless: I felt like I was one of those people running. Then I thought, how could this happen? What happened to the people whom so easily killed others, just because they wanted their basic human rights? Were they walking around free? As tears streamed down my face, I felt that change must start with me and I must work to insure that the greatest tragedies in our society, including slavery, lynchings, colonialism, and apartheid should never, ever happen again.
So by starting this blog is my way of informing people around the world that tragedies like this must never happen again. Ultimately, we must remember the 131 nooses and when our minds come to this we must ask ourselves, what are we doing to eradicate hatred and ignorance.
Tiffany & Kennard
Day 3 - South Africa uses Rand as their official currency. So upon our arrival to South Africa, we had to exchange dollars for Rand. The Rand to dollar is current 15 to 1. Nelson Mandela is on the R10, R50, and R100, all the bills we've seen so far! They actually have coins that are in R1, R2, and R5. So now that we have the money, we're wondering, how in the world are we supposed to tip? It looks like here there is a 10% minimum tip that you can give as opposed to the US standard 15 to 20 percent, while at a restaurant. The porter who helps you with your bags gets about R15, and a cap driver can get up to R10, depending. . . Interesting. Tiffany & Kennard
Day 2 - As we were driving from Soweto into Joberg (Johannesburg), we noticed during afternoon rush hour, a large number of people walking on the side of the highways. We had to take a second, triple, and a forth look because we couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing. They were walking for miles, headed home from work. We also noticed many white vans on the highways, these vans were transporting people to and from work. Nearly 30 percent of the population is unemployed in South Africa and those who are working, might live in a township, like Soweto. The conditions in Soweto were unbelievable, a lot of the Black people still live in poverty level conditions. So many of them do not have running water nor electricity, so they do not have heat for the cold weather (the temperature could go as low as the 40's in the winter time), and they do not have a toilet inside their home, and some of the galvanized zinc roofs have large stones placed on them, in order to hold them down. So these people definitely would not have their own transportation to and from work. How could this be? Apartheid ended in 1994 and a Black government has been in place for around 20 years. So you can see where I am coming from, here is a picture of a few people washing clothes next to their shantytown homes. Tiffany & Kennard