Tag Archives: Cape Town

Where’s the struggle, Cape Town?

When visiting Johannesburg and Cape Town the difference in the two cities is remarkable.  Cape Town is the light and airy beach city with Table Mountain providing a constant backdrop for your perfect Instagram post #blessed. Johannesburg is a bustling African city that feels like the heart of South Africa. Every day people arrive to Johannesburg from other parts of South Africa and the larger African continent and push all-in on the “City of Gold”.  However, its difficult to find the story of the struggle against Apartheid in “The Mother City” of Cape Town.

Cape Town has two notable tourist sites when it comes to telling the story of the struggle here in Cape Town. One is Robben Island and the other is the District Six Museum.  Everyone knows Robben Island as the prison island where Nelson Mandela served 18 of his 27 years imprisoned by the Apartheid government.   The tour guides on Robben Island are s mix of former political prisoners and paid guides.  The paid tour guides take you through the bus portion of your tour and tell you about the history of the island and some of the other sites on the island other than the main prison block.  They do a good job of telling tourist about Robert Sobukwe, the leader of the PAC, who was imprisoned on Robben Island in a house, but in solitary.  He was not allowed any communication with anyone during his confinement. The government considered him extremely dangerous for his mind and sought to destroy it because it was his most powerful weapon against their regime. The prison portion of the tour is still conducted by former political prisoners.  They tell you about their time on the island, in prison, and their political activism.  The guide we had this time was still fired up about political activism and I think everyone in my group would have followed him wherever he lead us!

District Six Museum is staffed with former residents of the neighborhood. They do a great job of telling their stories of forced removal. Each time I’ve visited this museum I have been moved to tears (today was no exception). Our guide today told us the story about his prized racing pigeons. Three months after the forced removal he decided to let his pigeons out, to see if they would come back home.  He went to work and when he got home that night the pigeons had not returned home.  He drove through his old neighborhood of District Six and found all of his pigeons waiting for him in the rubble of his old home.  They didn’t understand what had happened to their home and even after all of these years the people are still trying to figure it out.  The racism of the old regime is such an unsatisfactory answer, but its the only one we’re left with.

Tonight, as I watched the full moon rise over the city-I couldn’t help but wonder “where are the rest of the stories of the struggle in this massive city?” Has Cape Town not recorded this important history because the tourism industry does not need it to? I don’t have the answers to these questions but I will now add this to my repertoire of questions I ask to the activists I encounter.

Please, if there are more sights regarding the struggle or resistance in Cape Town let me know!


Tickets Purchased!

I just purchased my tickets for the ABC Conference in Cape Town, South Africa.  The conference will be Jan 6-8 at the University of Cape Town.  I’m excited to meet the academics and professionals coming together for this event.

I also hope to be able to do some research while I’m back on that side and so I won’t be back this side until just before the start of Spring Semester!

Now, I have to get IRB approval…

The Slave Lodge, Cape Town

Happy (Birthday to me!) Cape Town

Agenda for the week (31March-5April)

Monday Drive to Cape Town

Tuesday Robben Island Tour, Boulders Beach, and Cape Point

Wednesday Table Mountain and if the forecast holds, I will be taking the cable car roundtrip

Thursday Tour of Parliament, The Slave Lodge, and the Cultural History Museum

Thursday Night Overnight stay with Mama Noks township home-stay network

Friday Oudtshoorn: Visit a working ostrich farm, Cango Caves, and stay in De Rust on a working farm.


Khayelitsha’s Township Café

This unique coffee shop opened in Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town serving the people of the township.  The prices are set to serve the community in which the coffee shop in located and providing a service that is in demand, good coffee.

When I was on my spring break trip last year to South Africa, we were told over and over again how development was what South Africans wanted for themselves.  Tourist dollars over charity.  We were told this in our orientation our first day at NMMU and again on our city tour of Port Elizabeth.  I love this story because it exemplifies what we were told through these sessions.  I hope to read/see more like this.

Khayelitsha’s Township Café.

via Khayelitsha’s Township Café.

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