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14 posts categorized "Student"

04/29/2016

Homestay Weekend in Langa by JoJo Little

Ever since I got home people have been asking me how my homestay was and the only word I can think to answer with is “insane.” Insane because I experienced something I never thought I would be able to in this lifetime. The family I stayed with consisted of a mother named Lindi (41), a daughter named Ria (15), a daughter named Wanga (5), and a son named Riolio (2). The family was extremely welcoming and accommodating to my stay in their home. Amongst what I guess to be one of the most underprivileged families in the homestay program, they did an amazing job making their house a home. I never once felt uncomfortable or as if I was infringing on their space. Furthermore, they made sure that I was consistently fed and entertained which were aspects that were really important to my experience. I learned what it was like to find entertainment in the face of limited resources. With no money or desire to leave the community, the people of Langa have days filled with laughter and activity. I also experienced what it was like to eat meals under a constrained budget. The cuisine my family prepared for me was both unique to Africa and unique to what they could afford and liked to eat. As a healthy eater, the task of eating everything that was handed to me was a difficult feat but one I found easy to achieve once I decided that I wanted my experience to be wholesome and reflective of the lives of my homestay family.

It required a lot of energy to release myself from what I normally do every day, what I normally eat, and who I normally interact with but once I did a wave of surrealism followed and I was able to just be a person living in Langa. By actively forgetting that I was a visitor to the community, I was able to succumb to their lifestyle. It ended up being the most rewarding thing I could ever do for myself. At first it was difficult to be on someone else’s time but once I discovered that I had no choice but to go with the flow, I really enjoyed myself. My Saturday consisted of watching the youth rugby team for a bit, walking around Langa, trying sheep’s face and authentic African beer, and attending a braai.  My Sunday consisted of a two hour long Roman Catholic mass, grocery shopping, and watching a hockey game. These activities helped me to understand the art of Langa and the authentic life of my homestay family.

Although there were times when I felt uncomfortable and times where I wish things had gone a little differently, at the end of the day I would not change a single thing about what I experienced. I am so grateful it happened the way it did and that I can carry the memories with me for the rest of my life. To make matters even better, my homestay mom and I exchanged our emails and cell phone numbers and I am looking forward to the time our worlds collide again. Langa Homestay_JoJo Little

03/14/2016

Why District Six Should Never Be Forgotten

The story of Apartheid in South Africa is nothing new to me, however the story of District Six was a whole new ballgame. The fact that I knew very little made the District Six Museum even more meaningful. Here’s what I learned: In February 1966, it was declared that District Six (the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town) would be a whites-only area. In total, more than 66,000 people were forcibly removed from their homes and communities. And, at the same time, their houses and other community buildings were flattened by bulldozers as the government attempted to rebuild a “clean” community that did not involve people of color. What struck me most about District Six, was that in that other well-known situations of racial discrimination, the “unwanted” people were forced into a relocation center—the Jews were forced into ghettos and concentration camps, the Native Americans and African Slaves (in the case of the States) were forced into reservations and work plantations. In my years of history classes and research, this is the first instance I can think of where the discriminated group was forced out of a district, rather than into one.

Before the declaration of District Six as a “White Group Area” it was a multi-cultural, vibrant community—there were people of all ages, backgrounds, classes, races, and nationalities living together in a big melting pot. Yes, there were still hardships—small living quarters, poverty, etc.—but they were all existing and living together. Then, during the period of Apartheid, someone decided that the mixing of cultures and races was unclean and dangerous. They decided that the only way to fix this “problem” was to force out all the colored people so that only whites remain. Then they began to bulldoze the land—this remodel included starting from the ground up, as well as building new streets so that it was a completely different, unrecognizable area.

When I walked into the museum, the first thing that caught my eye was the big map of District Six on the floor. This map was a layout of the district, including all the street names, and had been signed by former residents in the places where they had lived before being removed. On the edges of this map, there were poems—poems of hope, poems of sorrow, poems dedicated to the mothers who had lost their sons in the violence, poems declaring that the pain and tragedy would not last. There were two poems in particular that resonated within me, both written by Peter E. Clarke:

 

Questioning Eyes

It’s sad

The situation is so bad

That when we meet

In the dark street

We size

Each other up

With cautious, questioning eyes.”

Poem

Undoubtedly

We live in a time of storm

And stress

But this weather

will not last

Nevertheless

This tide will turn”

 

I can’t quite put my finger on what drew me to these two poems in particular, but I think that they both make powerful statements about District Six. Questioning Eyes tells the story of a time where there was harmony and peace between cultures, but it has gotten to the point where anyone could be the enemy. A community that once was thriving on its intercultural relationships had now become a place where anyone could be the victim, and anyone could be the attacker—people are turning on one another because a ‘higher authority’ created an air of superiority. On the other hand, Poem offers up words of hope. It gives hope that the storm would not last, the idea that they would be able to make it through. It gives the reader the strength to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to trust that equality will one day be restored. Two poems, beautifully written, from the same place of discrimination and sorrow.

Walking through this museum—this space dedicated to the memory of District Six and to the destruction that happened there—I had so many thoughts running through my head. I will never ever be able to understand what it’s like to be forced out of your home. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of racial discrimination happening today, both back home in the States and all around the world, but I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, at predominantly white schools. I’m Hispanic, but I’m also German—and I’m lucky enough that the color of my skin doesn’t make me the target of any discrimination. However in District Six, this could have been an entirely different story. During our guided tour, the tour guide showed us examples of pass books. He pointed out how there were two people whose skin color looked basically identical however one was classified as white, and one was classified as colored. This struck me: there was no process, no systematic approach to one’s ethnicity, it was just based off the color of your skin and the person who was making that judgment. In grade school we’re taught not to judge a book by its cover—but that’s exactly what was happening in District Six. If you looked colored, then you were labeled “colored”, if you looked white then you were labeled “white”. But sometimes even if you looked white, you were labeled “colored”. That’s it. Someone made a decision about who you were and there was no way to escape that label, regardless of your actual ethnicity.

When you make these decisions—when you choose to completely tear down a community, to reform and rebuild it—you make the decision to completely destroy a part history. There are so many homes and business that were lost. So much cultural engagement that is now absent to those of us in Cape Town today. Yes, we have museums and pictures and stories that have been passed down, but it’s not the same as being able to walk through those neighborhoods and to see with our own eyes.

I think that one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to decide that we are too good to live in a multicultural community, to decide that we are too good to mix with other cultures. I like to think of myself as having a very welcoming, accepting view of cultures that are different than my own. I’m an Intercultural Studies major because I think that our differences are what make us beautiful and I want to learn as much as I can about the cultures that make us unique. And I sometimes find myself assuming that everyone thinks this way. I find myself thinking that it ought to be common sense to love someone regardless of the color of their skin. But in those moments, I realize that this is, very unfortunately, not the way everyone thinks.

Back in the States, we have a presidential candidate who does not realize the pain and destruction that comes from distancing yourself from other cultures. He thinks that America is weakened and is “losing” because we let in immigrants and people of other ethnicities. He thinks that he can “make America great again” by kicking certain races out. But what he doesn’t realize is that when we embrace one another, and we embrace the rainbow of diversity that we each represent, we allow for a merging of cultures that benefits all sides. I’m not saying these things to throw shade, or to turn this into a big political argument, because that’s not the point. I’m saying it because I’m an optimist: I want to think that one day everyone will realize the joy and beauty that comes from multicultural communities. We should not be afraid of who we are, or where are ancestors come from. We should not fear each other, we should embrace each other. And I pray that this museum continues to serve as a reminder of the hurt and destruction that comes from trying to “clean” ourselves of intercultural relationships. Distirct 6 CAP

07/26/2011

Wolmunster House's Robben Island Experience

On the morning of 23rd I, along with all 19 members of Wolmunster house, headed down to the waterfront to take the ferry to Robben Island, the infamous Alcatraz-like prison where Nelson Mandela was held for an unfathomable 18 years during Apartheid. 


We survived the nauseating ferry ride and made it to the island where we were greeted by a former inmate of the prison – our tour guide. He told us his story of being sent to Robben Island for involvement in the anti-Apartheid movement. He led us to the kitchen, the very kitchen where he spent five of his seven years cooking for fellow inmates. He showed us a chart depicting the rations that were allotted to prisoners of different races, the white inmates receiving more food than the Coloured people, who received more food than the Black prisoners. 


I was surely not the only student to wonder why a man who suffered such trauma and hardship on this island would voluntarily spend his days giving tours of the prison. Unfortunately no one asked him this question - my biggest regret of the day, despite the personal nature of the question. 


The lesson: always ask the difficult, uncomfortable question. You’ll regret not asking it more than you’ll regret asking it. 


After seeing the prison, we were taken on a scenic bus tour of the rest of the island where we caught a beautiful glimpse of the city across the water, saw a peacock, and spotted some more of our favourite African penguins waddling along the shore.

The ferry back was just as brutal as the ferry there, a result of the immensely powerful winds that literally almost knocked us over. Overall, the tour provided us with some first-hand insight into South African history, enriching our experience as we immerse ourselves in this culture that is so deeply shaped by its recent history. 

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Josh Kriegel is a student from the University of Pennsylvania.

Wolmunster House's Robben Island Experience

On the morning of 23rd I, along with all 19 members of Wolmunster house, headed down to the waterfront to take the ferry to Robben Island, the infamous Alcatraz-like prison where Nelson Mandela was held for an unfathomable 18 years during Apartheid. 


We survived the nauseating ferry ride and made it to the island where we were greeted by a former inmate of the prison – our tour guide. He told us his story of being sent to Robben Island for involvement in the anti-Apartheid movement. He led us to the kitchen, the very kitchen where he spent five of his seven years cooking for fellow inmates. He showed us a chart depicting the rations that were allotted to prisoners of different races, the white inmates receiving more food than the Coloured people, who received more food than the Black prisoners. 


I was surely not the only student to wonder why a man who suffered such trauma and hardship on this island would voluntarily spend his days giving tours of the prison. Unfortunately no one asked him this question - my biggest regret of the day, despite the personal nature of the question. 


The lesson: always ask the difficult, uncomfortable question. You’ll regret not asking it more than you’ll regret asking it. 


After seeing the prison, we were taken on a scenic bus tour of the rest of the island where we caught a beautiful glimpse of the city across the water, saw a peacock, and spotted some more of our favourite African penguins waddling along the shore.

The ferry back was just as brutal as the ferry there, a result of the immensely powerful winds that literally almost knocked us over. Overall, the tour provided us with some first-hand insight into South African history, enriching our experience as we immerse ourselves in this culture that is so deeply shaped by its recent history. 

07/25/2011

Roxy House's Robben Island Experience

Roxy’s trip to Robben Island started off a little bumpy. We all managed to be awake and ready for the car at 11h30, but about a minute into the car ride, we realized that Sajjad (our RA) had forgotten the tickets. We had to turn back to the house to get them. 


After that minor hiccup, we made it to the Waterfront with plenty of time to spare and were able to walk around a little bit and get coffee. Unfortunately, many of the girls in the house had to fight aggressively with the harsh winds in order to walk.


While waiting on line for the ferry, we saw the Mr. Apartheid puppet and the famous quote by Ahmed Kathrada hanging on the walls as a little preview to the Robben Island Museum. The quote set the tone for the apartheid museum that we were about to see. 


Our first stop at Robben Island was one of the communal bunk rooms. Our tour guide, who was a former prisoner of Robben Island, explained to us the conditions and experience of an average prisoner. He showed us the identification and meal cards that each prisoner received and explained the blatant discrimination that was practiced against blacks, even in prison. 


The Black prisoners were given less food and worse consideration than the Whites, Coloureds, and Indians. 


We then went to the kitchen, which was a small room that housed about sixteen or so vats, used for cooking. Our guide explained that you could apply to get a job in the kitchen as a prisoner, but you had to be very disciplined because if you took an extra piece of meat, someone else would not eat that day. 


The next stop on the walking tour was to the famous 466/64 cell where Nelson Mandela was kept during his time on the island. One of our housemates, Donald (who is very tall) could hardly fit through the doorway. It is incredible to imagine that Nelson Mandela stayed there for eighteen years. 

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Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island.


Next, we boarded a bus and a different guide took us to the Leper Graveyard, the exhibit on Robert Sobukwe who was the founder of the Pan-African Conference. He was kept in solitary confinement for six years on the island.

Next, we visited the limestone quarry where captives had to spend 8 hours a day digging and crushing the rocks that were used to build the roads on the islands.  


The ferry ride back to the waterfront was quite a surprise. No one warned us that it would be like a scary roller coaster, but fortunately, no Roxy resident got seasick—the sign of a successful day! 

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Julie Zuckerbrod is a student from Duke University. 

 

04/21/2011

Rethinking Township Tours

Even before coming to South Africa, I stressed opposition towards township tours.  They were “objectifying,” “idiotic,” and “demeaning.”  The idea of touring poverty made me cringe.  “But, township tours allow people to understand the poverty on an more intimate level; they expose people to living conditions that they would not be able to see otherwise,” my friend Daysy argued last semester.  She may be right, but after touring Gugulethu today, I find myself disagreeing even more.

I guess I consented to the township tour as a means of seeing more of Gugulethu.  Before today, my experiences in Gugulethu had been restricted to Sundays at Mzoli’s.  I was curious to see more, yet wary to venture without a guide.  As well, township tours are part of the fundamental South African experience.  As a business, they have exploded over the past decade.  The tours provide a means of displaying how people have remained impoverished post-apartheid, despite the democratic transition.  Donald, our tour guide, took extra care to express how the government had failed to deliver many welfare goods to Gugulethu.  “Judge for yourself,” he kept saying, “are living conditions better?”

Our tour began with what can be called nothing less than an invasion of privacy.  Donald led us to one of the shacks perched above Gugulethu, looking out over the N-2 highway.  I felt like I was back at orientation, except this time it was much worse: a large group of Americans, blatantly wealthy, foreign, and out-of-place.  Waiting outside the shack, I tried to focus on anything except my surroundings.  But once we were led inside, it became impossible to avoid the awkward confrontation.  Donald waved his arm, showcasing the room.  “Do you see this shack?  Do you see the wiring, the bed?  Six people live in this house.  Do you think it is good?”  The owner of the house, whom Donald never formally introduced us to, was an older seamstress.  She never spoke, but simply sat behind her sewing machine, watching TV.  The other family members present, a young woman and a boy, also remained silent.  I learned nothing about these people, except that they are poor, which was exactly what Donald was trying to reflect.

The rest of the tour, while uncomfortable, never reached the same level of dread that the shack induced.  We were led through the rest of Gugulethu, to see the local pubs, markets, and main stretch.  We also saw Gugulethu’s two famous memorials, the Gugulethu Seven and Amy Biehl memorial.  The tour ended with Mzoli’s, a relief to be back in familiar territory.  While I will probably return to Mzoli’s over the next two months, I doubt I will ever go on a township tour again.  It was too invasive, too objectifying, and yes, too idiotic.

A comment Donald made at the beginning of the tour stuck with me for the rest of the day.  Discussing European tourists that have come to tour Gugulethu, Donald mentioned that some patrons “weep when they see the poverty.”  Comments like this I especially dread.  If there is one thing I have learned in South Africa, it is to not focus on the poverty.  Such concentration only generates pity; and with pity, comes an unequal stance between the observer and the observed.  Our weekend in Ocean View was meant to undo such perceptions, whereas township tours perpetuate them.

Our generation did not witness apartheid, and cannot fathom the violence and repression of its time.  Older generations did, and will forever view apartheid’s repression with a sense of guilt.  Township tours, I feel, feed off of this guilt.  The family in the shack was not empowered by my visit, but was objectified in order for me to feel remorse for the effects of apartheid. 

 As the guilt of apartheid begins of fade, one can only hope that the business of township tours will diminish as well.  Younger generations will no longer view township tours as a means of “learning about the effects of apartheid,” and will (hopefully) come to view them more as a source of objectification.  Township tours do not undo apartheid’s effects, but perpetuate a sense of “white guilt.”  While older generations may be quick to feel pity, ours experiences discomfort.  As much as Donald means well, I can only hope that he will eventually move on from the touring business, to pursue more beneficial means of empowering the people of Gugulethu.

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Margaret Yukins is a student from Columbia University.

03/15/2011

View of the Ocean? A Home Away from Home...

An experience like this weekend reminded me once more why I came to South Africa. The Ocean View township is a community of mostly colored people who originally lived in Simon’s Town, just about a 15-minute drive from the current township.

Ironically, Ocean View hardly has a view of the ocean..but the life and energy of the community creates an environment far more desirable than any view of any ocean.The people in the community are vibrant, beautiful, creative and welcoming. The weekend began with a talent show led by tranny/community leader Alvin and group dinner at the high-school where an identical Michael Jackson copy performed a montage of dances and lip-synching (My brother Luke happened to have a huge Michael Jackson collage in his room as well).

Saturday morning began with a delicious breakfast of avocado, scrambled eggs, fresh tomato and toast followed by a trip to the mall with mom, luke, parker and my roommate for the weekend, Mosha. After a delicious lunch, we then took a drive along the coast with the entire family to pick up Jordan at a beach birthday bash (which he described as “BOORRING”) where there was a tidal pool complete with a mysterious 5-foot long black sand shark (how did it get in there) and fishing boats returning from a successful day by the looks of their nets and traps full of “snoek”.

We even got a free fish because Mosha and I excitedly told the fisherman that we had never seen a snook before! This fish was then taken to Grandma’s house in “Ghost Town” (neighborhood of Ocean View) where Paul expertly filleted the freshly killed snook. But before this, we took a drive to one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen thus far in Cape Town, Scarborough, just a ten minute drive from the George’s home— imagine having such beauty at your fingertips! Dinner was delicious— “braaied” snoek with a lime, apricot and butter glaze and fresh salad. Sunday morning began with church bright and early at 8am— a very similar to my own experiences at Catholic church (this was an Anglican congregation, which Paul informed me is very similar to Catholic). After Sunday Lunch (finally, something relatable to Sunday at Grandma Colangelo’s) we headed to watch the cycling race pass by. About 50% of Ocean View had the very same idea— there were braais, tents and endless amounts of people watching the race (sort of) but mostly just having fun and socializing. All in all, such a unique and special way to spend a weekend.

The George’s welcomed me into their home as their own (as they have done with exchange students for the past 6 years) and even hinted at coming to visit me next weekend for my birthday. I don’t think it’s naive to say that I will be seeing them very soon…. 

Ocean View brings to mind these words..community, togetherness, litter, vandalism, crime, love, friendship, support, churches, dogs, gates, barbed wire, beer, bodegas (except they use a different term I can’t remember right now), crowds, babies, vibrant, street games, running kids, wise elders… LIFE. 

Ocean View simultaneously reminded me of neighborhoods in my city (NYC) as well as the family community I grew up with myself. At the same time, the experience the residents of Ocean View, particularly the elder ones who can still remember times of forced removal and apartheid, is one entirely foreign to me. But as my experience proceeds here in Cape Town, I am only learning more and more and the incredible history, culture and background that comprises this amazing city.

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172849_1430732564728_1125270900_31718250_3083803_o Juliana Colangelo is a student from Barnard College.

03/09/2011

Dance, sweat and fears...

Before I begin, I have to first give credit for this to my friend Alex. She, after hearing our dance instructor say this, made a mental note to write a blog entry about it, so I borrowed her mental note, because I wanted to share all of this with everyone at home too!

So, we’re in the middle of our African Dance (for semester study abroad students, making it a lot easier for us to just let loose and not worry because it’s new to all of us) class, and we were doing some across the floor combinations. The instructor, for the first couple of lines, would be doing the steps just as he taught them. Oddly enough, though, as he continued going with more lines, he would start improvising and moving in whatever way he felt like moving. Some were disconcerted & confused, as they were relying on him to follow the steps that they weren’t exactly understanding (African Dance – pretty different from anything you do in the States). So, he came over, and said this to us:

I’m in a different mode… Or what is it you say… frequency? Yes, I’m on another frequency.

One of my favorite things about this African Dance class is that we are constantly reminded just to let go. Central to the dance form we are learning is an appreciation of the music, of how the dance is just an extension of the music, and how dance is interactive and fun for an audience. Too many times we, as students, are caught up in the intricacies of footwork, of arm placement, and of distance being traveled. Too much worry breeds an inability to focus on expressing yourself; instead, you’re just trying to become perfect (a la Nina Sawyer in Black Swan). We are all guilty at times of partially driving ourselves mad trying  to nail a step. However, what that statement tells me is that there is something missing in that style of dancing: there’s no fun.

African Dance (whatever that may be – in our lecture we have debated the idea of what is African Dance, but for all intents and purposes here I’m just using African Dance as a generally name for the specific styles we’re learning) is about fun.

That’s why we need to let ourselves go – we need to be able to get out of our own heads and enjoy the dance. Our focus was all in the wrong place, and once that was pointed out, everything changed for me. No longer was I trying to be one of the few who can nail a combination, to show that I was paying attention and caring. I let go yesterday. And while I did end up making some slight mistakes on some of the combinations, I didn’t care.

That’s brand new for me. All I did was have fun, and the feelings, the expression, and the energy began to flow. I think my instructor could sense it, because he was feeding off the energy as well. African Dance is about an exchange of energies, and I finally got to the place where my energy is ready to be exchanged (as strange as that sounds).

Although this lesson mostly applies to African Dance, I think it’s a perfect metaphor for how Cape Town is changing me. I used to be slightly anal retentive, paranoid about doing something wrong, always worried that I was going to be unable to live up to expectations in school, with friends, and in other aspects of my life.

After coming to Cape Town, I’ve learned perhaps the most important lesson I needed to learn: chill. There’s no need to be rushing around everywhere, and no need to be psyching myself out about acing an exam.  While I am here to learn, I’m also here to take advantage of everything Cape Town has to offer me. So while that may mean skipping class every once in a while to go to the beach, or missing out on some hanging out with friends to go volunteer, I’m no longer worried about what I could be doing, or what I should be doing better.

Thank you Cape Town, for finally making me see that I just need to live on the frequency of the music, need to just do what naturally comes to me, need to embrace every opportunity that comes my way. But most importantly, thank you for throwing some black swan into my white swan’d self.

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168715_1866092897215_1387800043_32260737_2189714_n Thomas Delay is a student from the George Washington University.

03/08/2011

Sights and Scenes from Cape Town

Images by Holly Chu.

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The city lights of Cape Town, as seen from Signal Hill.

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Can you believe we tried to fit all of those people in a VW Beetle?

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After a tight squeeze, we only managed to get seven people. In one Beetle!

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A picture taken in Gugulethu.

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Kicking it at Mzoli's, a famous township eatery in Cape Town. The meat is just divine.

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Size does not matter.

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Winin' out.

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Finally getting to pet cheetahs. Cape Town, rules. Period.

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Holly Chu is a student from the University of Southern California.

Dusty Disciples: The Ramfest Experience

Howzit?

The semester has been in full force and as the immersion process is transforming the lives of each CIEE exchange student, Cape Town is starting to feel more and more like a home away from home. Not only have I been cooking 2-3 meals a day for myself but I am beginning to diet and eat like a true South African. I can proudly say that I am more of a carnivore and the braai culture has fully affected my eating habits. I believe that I have eaten over 20 full animals since I have been here.

This weekend, a small group of us decided to venture away from our secure homes in Rondebosch and Mowbray and travel North on the N1 to Nekkies Resort in Worcester for the annual Ramfest festival. Ramfest stands for Real Alternative Music. The international headliners were “Alkaline Trio” (US) and “Funeral for a Friend” (UK). However, the international bands were not the reason that Hans, Trevor, Vir and I ventured 120 km  away from Cape Town (Yes! I now use the metric system). After renting a car and a big 4 person tent as well as enough peanut butter and jelly, hot dogs, baked beans and water to last us the weekend, we headed out in pursuit of a fun-filled weekend.

This is the second time that we rented a car from some random car rental agent. The first time was for the Garden Route in which the agent told us he gave us the car with little to no “petrol” and we could return it that way. We made note in our heads to leave the car running overnight if we wound up having any leftover gas upon our return because it was not very considerate to leave us with nothing. This second time we rented the car from this agency the man said he thinks the car has a half tank of gas...

After driving for about 45 minutes heading north on the N1 everything is going quite well. Traffic starts to slow us down a bit as there is a huge tunnel a couple of kilometres up ahead. As the tunnel approaches, Hans our trusty driver notices that the accelerator is not doing anything and after a couple of pops we come to a dead stop. Low and behold after pushing the vehicle onto the shoulder of the highway we expect that we have run out of gas. The gas meter has not changed and apparently does not even work. After five minutes of hanging out talking to other concert goers and deciding on what to do, a large Volkswagen mini-bus full of a family bursts into a white flame of smoke about 50 yards behind us and we are joined with some similar broken down acquaintances.

After making new some new South African friends, an emergency highway vehicle arrives. He pulls up in front of us and wants to tow us to a safer part of the highway. After latching us onto the tow he immediately begins driving before we can even start the car and get it into neutral - we literally thought he was going to annihilate our transmission and axel or whatever else he was about to pull away from our car. We wave him to stop and finally he helps us start the car because the wheel lock was stuck. We pay the man 100 rand to fetch us some fuel and he follows us safely through the tunnel. Thank god we did not break down in the tunnel!

Finally we make it to Nekkies, Worcester after many turn-arounds and instances where we went to stop and ask for directions and no one spoke a word of English. Low and behold we are in Afrikaans country! Nekkies is a beautiful resort, located right in the mountains alongside of a huge river. Because we arrived late we had to set up our tent in the dark and were in the biggest dust bowl I have ever camped in. Our lungs and entire bodies were coated in dirt and dust within minutes. After setting up and settling we walked over to the concert scene where three stages were setup with the most scenic mountain backdrops behind.

A collective mixture of alternative, rock and electronic music were being played on each stage. We were very interested in hearing the South African music scene. The first night was set off by Gazelle (who have two zulu back vocal women singers and a very African vibe) and Die Antwoord (craziest set I have ever seen). They have an Afrikaans/English hardcore rap style accompanied by an insane high-pitched woman rapping). We then went over to the electronic tent that apparently played until 5 in the morning.

The next day the river was the main scene. Everyone brought inner tubes and floatables, relaxed and listened to music while soaking up the sun in the river. The scene was so cool. Later that night the two international headline bands played but we were not very interested in them. The coolest performance of the second night was on the electronic stage of a couple of guys called “P.H. Fat”.

These guys would kill it in the States and would do very well on college concerts. One of the artists brought out his laptop to “show the crowd something” but as he was fiddling with it while holding the mic he dropped his laptop and the battery broke off of it. He was not a happy camper.  He wound up giving his laptop to a member of the crowd. They got the whole crowd jumping and an entire dust cloud overtook all the available oxygen.

Sunday morning we woke up and got the hell out of there. We were covered from head to foot in dust and dirt. We prayed that the car would make it home and it did! What a great journey!

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20055_1270432961230_1242030024_30917106_2249651_n Bradley Elfman is a student from Syracuse University.