Tag Archives: Africa
Weezer released a cover of Toto’s Africa last month, which closely coincided with my departure date and made me newly obsessed with this song. I thought I’d post three different takes of the same song and links to the story behind each one.
First is the original Toto’s Africa:
Here’s the short story behind how this song was written and the inspiration for the song [click here].
Next is Kristen Bell and Dax Shepperd’s video made to the orginial Toto version of Africa:
Even though this is the same song the video, made 30 years after the song was originally recorded, gives new meaning to the song itself. Here’s the story behind their video [click here].
Last, but certainly not least, is Weezer’s cover of Africa:
Follow the link for the sweet story behind this new cover [click here].
“Going back to the villiage”
Johannesburg is famously easy to navigate this time of year because people have traveled home for the extended holidays. The Northern Virginia and D.C. metro areas experience this as well because so many people have moved there for work but are not from that area. One of the Instgram accounts I follow posted a picture from Accra showing a taxi rank from before the holidays and during the holidays with a dramatic difference between the two photos. While this story is known and the proverb is widely accepted, there are other people who travel back to their country in this same spirit.
The first person I met was on the flight from D.C. to Atlanta. We didn’t speak at first because he was busy texting before we took off. I figured He just wasn’t chatty and believe it or not I do try not to chat with people who aren’t interested in chatting. But then he saw me sorting through my boarding passes and showed me his phone where he’d typed out his question for me asking me if I was going to Johannesburg. I pulled my phone out and we had a little chat. He told me that he was going back to South Africa for his brother’s birthday. His brother is turning 50 and wanted to go back to South Africa, where they were born to celebrate. He told me they left South Africa in 1989, but he didn’t elaborate from there and I didn’t ask. When we boarded the plane in Atalanta I was sitting close to his brother and the rest of his family. I think all of the men in the family were deaf. I eventually caught his brother’s attention and wished him a happy birthday before we de-planed. I saw his brother from the back of the plane letting him know how I knew!
My seat mates from Atlanta to Johannesburg was a South African couple who had left the country in 1988 because they were classified as Indian during the Apartheid government and did not have full opportunities and freedom. They have dual citizenship as Canadians and South Africans and have been traveling back to South Africa since they left. They still have family here and now that they are both retired they can escape the unfogiving Canadian winter by traveling here during January and Febuary, which they told me they do every year. Toward the end of our flight we started a conversation about South Africa and why we were all going. They were facinated that I was bringing students from the United States to study social movements in South Africa. Our conversation wound around various topics from Robert Kennedy’s 1966 visit to South Africa to Cyril Ramaphosa and the complications (baggage) that come with him, and his respect for Thabo Mbeki and regret that he was pushed out of the presidency by Zuma. He told me that he still has hope for South Africa, but that he doesn’t expect South Africa will reach its potential for 30 or more years.
These brief encounters gave me a different framing for travel at this time of year and for the type of travel my students are about to embark upon.
I have not been to a big cat park in South Africa where I can pet or take close-ups with the cubs or adult cats. Its REALLY tempting! I mean, lion cubs! They are too cute and I would LOVE to hear those cats purr up close. But these venues are problematic. Each time I see one of those pictures pop up in my various newsfeeds I just see “dead cats walking”. These big cat farms are breeding grounds for the canned “hunting” (calling what happens hunting is problematic) farms, where wealthy foreigners pay to shoot and import the trophy.
But I just can’t bring myself to go. I know in a case like this my active non-anticipation in this tourist activity will not change the industry. However, I can keep talking and writing about the ethical issues of these parks and tourist ventures. Hopefully, as the truth spreads, as it did with Blackfish, tourist money can go towards efforts that do provide actual conservation efforts to protect these amazing big cats and their habitat.
South African students are protesting. They are fighting the rising cost of university fees, which are rising faster than financial aid and scholarships. Students across South Africa are protesting at their universities and shutting down the institutions today. I urge other students to follow #FeesMustFall no matter where you are in the world. Protesting students are being met with violence by police and students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University have been injured. Students in Cape Town protesting at the parliament were also injured as they protested.
What does your Africa look like?
What we see should not be what we believe.
It is said that the shape of the African continent can be found on the African elephants ear. I’ll leave that for you the readers to judge.
I recently came across a video blog based on peoples opinions of South Africa. With the following pics I will show you some of their answers.
As a South African I did not know how to respond to these opinions. If you the reader have agreed with these opinions, then please let me show you, my South Africa.
Yes, we do have amazing wildlife but they are on Game ranchers, away from suburban areas.
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Poverty porn or poverty tourism is one aspect of my time in South Africa that was difficult to understand. Before I go any further I will state that the United States also has issues with poverty porn, which plays out on television for millions of viewers on a number of “reality” shows. The US entertainment industry has exported this idea to the UK too. You’re welcome. No, really-I’m sorry.
I took a couple of tour trips into townships, two of them were with my school group on a city tour. When the bus pulled into the township children and men (unemployment rate is 26%) would come toward the bus. Some of the people smiled, but many of them flipped us off and yelled obscenities at the bus. I couldn’t feel mad at them because almost felt like we shouldn’t be there. Yes, going through the township helped me visualize the conditions, but it just felt wrong. It felt like the residents were, yet again, being exploited without their consent for the gain of the country. The people looking on our bus with distain did not know that we were students eager to learn about their country and trying to do it with a sense of respect. I think what bothered me the most on the township tour was that the tour was not given by someone who lived in the township. People deserve the right and ability to tell their own story. Especially, when it comes to people from the continent of Africa because a single African story has been so deeply woven into the fabric of the Western narrative that the majority of westerners do not realize what a fallacy it is.
Billed as a themed B&B where “you can experience staying in a Shanty within the safe environment of a private game reserve. This is the only Shanty Town in the world equipped with under-floor heating and wireless internet access! The Shanty Town is ideal for team building, braais, fancy theme parties and an experience of a lifetime.”