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18 posts categorized "Remy Ngamije"

08/30/2011

Jou Lekker Ding

There are three things Cape Townian's love: Table Mountain, Ajax Cape Town (the local soccer team) and the Stormers Rugby Team (also called the Western Province team when they play in local competitions).

On a cold and rainy night, the CIEE Cape Town Fall group took a trip down to the Newlands Rugby Stadium to see the Western Province take on the Sharks, one of their fiercest rivals from Durban.

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For many of the students, this was the first time that they had seen a live rugby game or even seen the sport. As South Africa's most watched sport (and its most successful), it was imperative that the students get an outing and experience the local rugby culture. Boerie rolls (boerewors or sausage rolls) were sold at every stand, and  "WP Jou Lekker Ding*" posters were being displayed by all the Western Province fans and at every tackle, the crowd cheered. 

The rain tried its best to dampen the spirits of the supporters, but nothing can stop a Cape Town club when it is in the mood - especially if the rubgy is some end-to-end stuff. The Sharks had the lead from the onset although the WP boys managed to tie it.

Late in the game, the boys from Durban managed to seal it with a drop goal but that did nothing to silence the crowd. Rugby differs from football in certain respects: whereas football losses are taken personally, club rugby is more inclusive and as long as the other team played better, fans are content to go home with their heads held high. 

The latest CIEE Cape Town outing managed to expose the students to another aspect of life in RSA. Sport is integral to national identity and nothing runs deeper than rugby. With the Rugby World Cup fever soon to descend on RSA, the Western Province-Sharks game was just a taste of things to come. 

*"Jou lekker ding" is an Afrikaans term that means "You good/awesome thing".

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Image courtese of www.livingmagazine.co.za

The Old Biscuit Mill: Another Cape Town Adventure

On sunny days in Cape Town, one has a number of options. The beach is always a firm favourite, especially Camps Bay and Muizenberg. A ride in Tokai Forest or a hike in Newlands Forest are also available for the more adventurous persons. If it is achievement that you are after, Table Mountain is must. Kirstenbosch is always on the cards if you want to laze amongst Mother Nature's beauty and if it is a Sunday, a trip down to Mzoli's in the Gugulethu township is a definite must. 

If what you are after is a slow Saturday with an old-school folk market feel to it, look no further than the Old Biscuit Mill located in downtown Observatory. 

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The Old Biscuit Mill is full of fresh produce and exotic food that will set your taste buds on fire. Open on Saturdays, it is a good place to purchase arts and crafts supplies, something tasty for supper and one of the trendiest places to socialise and soak in the relaxed Cape Town atmosphere. Breads, cheeses, wines, sandwiches, roasts, pies, ice-creams and a whole lot of other farmstyle and homemade dishes are on display. Gluttony comes easily here.

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The Old Biscuit Mill has become a firm favourite as a Saturday outing in Cape Town - hundreds of photographers parade the stalls looking for street photography shots, and people of all ages descend on it all manner of dress. It is a colourful and vibrant place, full of life and distinctly Cape Town.

Nursery House took a Saturday out of their month and took a trip to the OBM. As a place for relaxation, it is nearly unmatchable: good music, good food, friendly people and a surprising amount of sunshine in Cape Town's winter. 

For the students, the OBM offers a more relaxed side of Cape Town, somewhere where they can just hang out. From now on, you can be guaranteed that if the sun is shining, the OBM will have some more willing patrons.

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Images by Remy Ngamije.

Mzoli's: Township Style

South Africa's social landscape changes from place to place: there are the extremely rich and affluent areas, small seaside towns that could be out of any postcard (and most often are), there middle to upper class neighbourhoods with kids riding bicycles up and down the street and there are of course, the poorer areas where the streets are made of broken concrete housing materials are scavenged from any available resources. 

These less affluent areas of Cape Town are reare explored or interacted with to a large extent. Their distance from the main city centres as well as the stereotype that accompanies them renders them inaccessible to tourists and most locals alike. All in all, there are very few opportunities for most people to get some experiece of township life. Enter Mzoli's.

Located in Gugulethu, Mzoli's is a restaurant (but not) that has gained the reputation of being the best braaihouse in the Western Cape (if not the country). From the sight of it, it is no more than a small brick house with six large fireplaces where meat is braaid. It is more than this though - it is one of the few places where the different cultures of Cape Town, whether affluent or not can mix freely. The combination of food, music and lively entertainment provide an environment that all Cape Townians descend upon on Sundays. Nursery House's excursion to Mzoli's proved to be an exciting affair, rich in experience and pleasantl heavy on the gluttony.

For many of the students, it was the first time that they had gone to Mzoli's - the bus ride there took them out of the comfortable and familiar surroundings of Rondebosch and took them to a place where the normal amenities of life (their quantity and quality) were luxuries. Walking around Mzoli's exposed many of the students to how other Cape Townians, who are not as privileged as them, live. Though there are numerous social commentaries that could be made about Mzoli's, it is the relaxed and perpetual party atmosphere of the place that makes it memorable despite its surroundings. 

Nursery House's outing to Mzoli's was just another adventure that the students on the Cape Town Fall Program will remember for the rest of their lives. 

08/02/2011

A Return to Ocean View

Ocean View

Each semester, students in the CIEE Cape Town exchange program are sent on a three-day homestay in Ocean View, a Coloured township outside Cape Town. Nestled near the sea, Ocean View is distinctly different from the greater Cape Town metropolitan area and the middle class suburbia that the students would have gotten used to. It's smaller for one thing, and slightly less well off. But none of these things deter the Ocean View community from offering their own distinctive brand of hospitality.

Last semester, it was an adventure of note to have journeyed to Ocean View for the first time. Staying with my host mom was just like being at home. I was pampered and fed beyond gluttony, which is an absolute luxury when you're a student at university. I was given tours of the small community and even managed to do some volunteer services for the church in Ocean View. All in all, it was a truly enlightening experience. I am glad that for many of the students who went on the Fall program have the same positive views to report.

"It's so good that we were taken out of our comfort zone" a student in my house reported, "it is easy to slip into the mistake of thinking that all of Cape Town is one homogenous environment of clubs and high living - Ocean View exposed me and my housemates to a different way of living."

Though poor and underdeveloped, Ocean View is a bustling and vibrant community of Coloured people that were relocated there during South Africa's Apartheid era. The racial dynamics of the settlement are no secret and its history is rich with stories of forced removals. Just being in the place shows you how differently people were treated across the racial spectrum. "I've already been to Nyanga and Langa (Black townships in Cape Town) and they are very different from Ocean View," another student reported.

The way of life in Ocean View is slow and relaxed; any excuse for a good party is seized upon with delight. When the newest group of exchange students rolled into the small seaside town, the host families made sure that they were given a genuine Ocean View welcome: day-long braais and parties that last long into the night.

It's always good to experience something different from one's ordinary lifestyle when abroad. The favelas of Brazil are a popular tourist attraction, showing a different face to one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Places like Ocean View offer the same insight into Cape Town and South Africa, places which are often shrouded in sometimes misleading commercial facades.

With all of the students having safely returned from their Ocean View homestays, the stories will start rolling in thick and fast. Be sure to catch all of them online.

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Remy Ngamije is a student from the University of Cape Town.

07/26/2011

Robben Island Revisited: Nursery House

CIEE Cape Town endeavours to expose the students in its exchange program to as much of South Africa as possible. One of the ways that it does this is through the organisation of community action plans, more affectionately referred to as CAPs. These CAPs are initiated by the various houses in the program and can be educational, social or cultural. More often than not, they are a combination of all three. One of the most popular CAPs is the trip to Robben Island, the Apartheid museum where the likes of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Robert Sobukwe were imprisoned during the liberation struggle.

Last semester when the students in my house went to the island, it was a virgin experience for all of us, myself included. We all journeyed there not knowing what we were going to experience or see. For the most part, we were not left disappointed; it was a humbling experience that left many of us thinking about the horrors that were practiced in South Africa during the Apartheid era. Returning there for the second time with a new group of students, I was not sure what it is that I would feel. For the students, it would all be new. Would it be the same for me?

After a choppy ride on the ferry to the island, the same feeling of time travelling to the past washed over me. Setting foot on the island gives you an eerie feeling - you walk as a free man or woman in the same places that people were sent to serve life sentences. You trace the same footsteps of South Africa's famous heroes. From the kitchen to the prison cells, the walls of Robben Island remind you that this was a hard place - a place where only the strong survived. "It feels as though all the heaters in the world could not warm this place up," a student in my house said.

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The entrance to Robben Island

It is nigh impossible to visit the island and not leave being humbled. The ex-prisoners that give the guided tours of the prison tell such moving stories of their time on the island: the way that they lived, how they lived as a family to ensure that their spirits were not broken. From an RA perspective, the lessons that Robben Island teaches are sometimes useful in a house: teamwork, understanding, service. The lessons are innumerable. 

Of the numerous sights to see in Cape Town, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch, Cape Point and the Cape wine lands, Robben Island remains at the top of the list, not only because of the history that was made there, but because of the future that is promised as well. For the exchange students in the CIEE Cape Town program, Robben Island presents just one facet of South Africa's past and a testimony to a future free of the past's mistakes.

"It's really interesting the way the past is kept alive here. Robben Island is so heart wrenching yet painfully educational", another student stated. Robben Island is one of those journeys that remain hauntingly close once you've been there, one of those not easily forgotten. The second time around was just as educational as the second. 

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Remy Ngamije is a student at the University of Cape Town.

Dinner at Moyo

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Waka waka: CIEE students are taught how to shake and move by dancers at Moyo

The end of orientation for the CIEE Cape Town Fall Program was celebrated with a dinner at Moyo, one of Cape Town’s famous restaurants on the Spier Wine Estate. Moyo has been a perennial favourite with the CIEE crowd and before the students moved to their various homestays, houses or dormitories they were treated to a buffet of epic proportions: African style.

With orientation complete, the night was filled with frivolity and dancing, as students and staff were allowed to unwind and look forward to another fun-filled semester. For many of the students, Moyo presented a treat the likes of which they had never had before. From the food to the music, each minute presented something different for the tongue to taste and something new for the ears to hear.

The CIEE dinner at Moyo marked the official start of five months in Africa and as many students will confess, it was truly “lekker.”

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Picture perfect: Students and RA's enjoying the night away. 

07/13/2011

What's Your Story?

New term, new faces and new stories, that is the feeling that hovers over the CIEE Cape Town office on UCT's Middle Campus. With a new crop of students having arrived on Tuesday (12th July 2011) the energy of fresh starts is infectious and has rubbed onto the students. "What's your story?" has been officially adopted as the working slogan for the Fall Program, an encouragment to all the students in the program to seize all of the opportunities that UCT and Cape Town present. 

The following pictures were snapped on top of Lion's Head, a few hours after the students arrived in Cape Town. What a way to start the term. 

The energy and enthusiasm that the students have is impressive and more of the same is sure to follow as the term rolls out. All that remains is to capture all of the stories that CIEE Cape Town has to offer. 

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Pictures by Remy Ngamije. 

It's Gonna be !Xim

CIEE Welcome Poster
The Fall Program of CIEE Cape Town kicked of on Tuesday, 12 July 2011, with the arrival of another group of students from the United States touching down in the Mother City. Exhausted from hours on long flights and stopovers, the relief of finally having reached their home for the next five months was palpable.

Hailing from a host of US universities, the Fall Program is hosting students from large universitiess and small private colleges alike: Penn State, Rutgers, Occidental College, Santa Clara, Vanderbilt and Bodwoin College to name but a few. After months of application procedures and administration, the students were eager to start their semester abroad. As usual, CIEE was on hand to make sure that their stay in Cape Town got off to a truly exciting and adventurous start with a hike up Lion's Head, one of the city's more relaxing hikes. 

After hours spent on planes, the hike was an excellent way to expel jetlag and to take in the beauty of Cape Town. A rare sunny day in the middle of Winter seemed to bless the occassion and clear skies all around added to the panoramas that could be seen from the top of the Lion. A favourite haunt for hikers, the walk was crowded with old and young alike, all headed to the summit for the full moon viewing - another of Cape Town's must do's.

Slow and easy, the pace of the hike allowed the students to snap pictures of False Bay, Table Bay and Camps Bay at sunsets. Smiling faces and cameras combined in a tango of clicks and snaps that will have Facebook profile pages bristling with some very interesting pictures for friends and family to see. Introductions and conversations were had all around as students made new friends and acquainted themselves with the other students about to embark on their African journey in Cape Town.

The Resident Director, Quinton Redcliffe expressed his joy at seeing all of the students arrive safely and soundly, while the RA's helped to settle the students in their orientation venues quickly and efficiently. The rest of the week will be dedicated to informing the students about UCT and Cape Town life in general before they move to their respective houses, dormitories and homestays for the duration of the term.

With all of the students in Cape Town, the exchange trip can safely be said to be underway. From here on out, "it's gonna be !xim."

05/05/2011

The 20th of May: CIEE Formal

Final dinner

There are many important dates in a calendar. Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, Easter...All of these are important to students because it means one thing: no lectures, no school, no assignments to be handed in. It is bliss for a student.

South Africa has had a flurry of public holidays that have been a blessing to any overworked student. It has allowed many of us to catch up on work, assignment and the rest of life in general. Truly, the person that created the concept of public holidays needs to be given a Nobel Prize or something to that equivalent.

Besides that, there are other important days, like birthdays. To this list should be added the Cape Town CIEE Formal Dinner. Hosted and organised by the RA's in the Cape Town program, this event promises to be one of the most exciting nights in Cape Town for the students currently on the study abroad program.

It is a night geared to do one thing: re-capitulate on the events of the past five months, share memories, good food, good music and to just relax and be in each other's company.

The 20th May, I am sure, will become one of those nights that will live long in the memory of students in the CIEE program.

I can hardly wait. 

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By Remy Ngamije

Young in Prison

CIEE Cape Town has a number of volunteer programs available to students in the Arts and Sciences program as well as the Service Learning stream.

The programs are made and tailored to allow students on the study abroad program to not only volunteer, but to also engage and interact with the wider Cape Town community and not just the small microcosm that is represented by the University of Cape Town.

Each program is different from the next, allowing students to choose a program that they want. One of the programs that I tagged along to explore is the Young in Prison program, a volunteer program that is designed to rehabilitate and juvenile offenders.

On this occasion, the group went out to Bonnytown House, a halfway house for boys awaiting trial. There are around a 40 boys in the house and upon arrival, there were cheers ringing around the building when the volunteers pulled up. These boys receive very few visitors, so the volunteers are one of the few connections that they have with the outside world.

The volunteer group is charged with coming with activities that will entertain the boys. Accordingly, they play some games and hold discussion groups that explore various aspects of the boys’ lives.

The law holds that these boys have committed crimes and that they are in need of desperate emotional and social support – most people would look at them and see current or future criminals. When the camera came out though, all I could see were a couple of boys who wanted to have fun in front of the camera. 

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By Remy Ngamije