Tag Archives: NMMU


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.

True Grit

Grit, the TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth is one of my favorites to use in the classroom, especially with freshmen.  University may seem like the inevitable next step for most students after completing high school.  However, completing university, for many students, is anything but inevitable.  Student’s who come from backgrounds where university was not the norm or financially their families are not able to help have a difficult time completing the coursework within the traditional timeframe.

I love Gunya Pamla’s inspiring story. He started university but then was not able to complete his courses due to financial support.  However, he kept his eyes on the prize and graduated from NMMU with a degree in law. Read the full story in the Port Elizabeth Herald here.

Gunya Pamla posing as a car guard in his graduation robe.

Our Journey Back to MN

Here’s a video compilation of our long trip back to Minnesota from Port Elizabeth.  We flew from PE to Johannesburg. From Johannesburg we flew into Dulles (Washington, DC).  Then we got a shuttle from Dulles to National Airport to avoid a 12-hour layover.  Then from National we flew into Minneapolis.

Everything is awesome

This makes me think of my time here at NMMU in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The group of fellow SCSU students I was here with were awesome. The students I met and lived with were awesome. The new friends I made at university were awesome. This was a dream of mine to come here and everything was awesome!!!

African Unity Foundation

As an intern here at NMMU I did not take any classes and so I could not volunteer through the school like all of my cohort from SCSU. The benefit of volunteering through the school is they have the relationship with the local organization and the university provides transport! Lack of transportation is one of the biggest frustrations studying here. The students from the US are all used to having their own cars and the European students are used to being able to walk, bike, or take safe and secure public transport in their home countries. I wanted to volunteer while I was here but couldn’t find an opportunity, until I spoke with Dr. Jennifer Winstead. She is from the US (Mississippi to be exact), came here for post-doc work and stayed. She worked in the International Office for a while and switched over to Student Affairs. Dr. Winstead refereed me to AUF as a volunteer resource.

THE VISION of the Foundation is to be the preferred conduit between business and the social sector, playing the vital role of implementing and managing of SED and ED programs. This is supported by comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of each project.
OUR MISSION is to source funding from the business sector and invest in projects driven by our partnerships within the community.
AUF’s SED agenda has its objectives aligned as per the BEE codes of good practice, identifying EDUCATION as one of the key areas of investment. 

Company Overview
African Unity Foundation (AUF) established in 2003 is registered as a Public Benefits Organisation (PBO), AUF focuses on sustainable Socio-Economic and Enterprise Development programmes.
AUF is registered under the Section 18A of the Income Tax Act. This enables AUF to issue tax certificates for any contributions received.

AUF fills a niche gap in assisting companies who do not have the Human Resources, time and/or expertise to implement, manage and maintain SED projects.
With our extensive experience in designing, planning, implementing and managing of our various projects, investors will have peace of mind that the following will be attended to:

Monitoring and Evaluation of programmes
Well governed and transparent financial reporting on contributions received
Issuing of Section 18A certificates for tax benefits
BEE contribution certificate
Impact investing (Impact vs Input

Like volunteering through the community service learning course that the SCSU students register for, AUF also provides the relationship and transportation to volunteers. The added benefit of volunteering through AUF is the ability to mix with South African students. It can be difficult to meet locals, especially as an intern, because I am in an office environment. I work with locals but do not interact with students in the same way as if I was in class with them. I just did my first volunteer activity with AUF this past weekend and really enjoyed myself. Hopefully, future interns from SCSU will make the time to volunteer with AUF and get a chance to not only impact the community but have some fun while doing it!


The reason every book about Africa has the same cover—and it’s not pretty

As part of Africa Week here at NMMU I attended a lecture last night by UCT Professor Harry Garuba about Textualized Literature. First he spoke about Textual Territories which are areas of the world that have been written about so much that the writing has forever altered our perceptions of the place. He gave the example of Robben Island being inextricably linked to Nelson Mandela that the perception of the island will always be viewed through the “Mandela lense”.  Then he made the argument that Africa itself is an over-textualized territory.  First, Africa was written about by people who “discovered” various places in Africa.  They wrote tales of discovery.  There were diaries by missionaries, memos from colonial administrators that wrote back to their home countries of the manners and customs they witnessed.  These might be considered amateur ethnographies.  Literature of this first type that has reached canonical status are: Heart of Darkness, King Salomon’s Mines, Mister Johnson, Out of Africa, and Tarzan and the Apes.  These books participate in othering which is a process where the authors define identity by what they are not.  They identify themselves at the norm and everything else is negative or abnormal (white/black; good/evil; Christian/heathen; civilized/primitive or savage).  These texts and pieces of literature were published by the colonial powers about the land and people they were occupying in the colonies.

The next wave of literature then writes back to the empire.  African writers read the canonical works of literature and answered back with their own form of ethnographic novel.  Nobel Prize winning author Chinua Achebe said that he wrote because he didn’t see himself in the books he read for school.  As he was growing up he noted that at first he imagine himself as the explorers finding finding his way through the jungle.  But then he came to realize that in the book the author would have written him as one of  the dark faced cannibals not the explorer.    Achebe’s generation of authors wrote deeply contextualized pieces to show themselves through the books illustrating their own rich culture with long-standing traditions.  This generation was writing back to the cannon and presenting a unified front.

Following that wave were authors who wrote back from the perspective of further marginalized people.  So, homogeneity gives way to heterogeneity and differences within a culture are given room to be exposed.  In this wave class and gender are discussed. Some of the books in this category are: So Long a Letter, The Joys of Motherhood, Woman at Point Zero, A Man of the People, The Beautiful Ones are Not Yet Born.

Then comes the 3rd wave or post-independence writers.  They are struggling with the current realities of African life and culture throughout the continent.  There is disillusionment with the current situation because the promised life that they were fighting for during apartheid or colonial domination has not come true as it was imagined.  These authors are posing what could be called a Marxist challenge to their current governments.  Professor Garuba argued that literature from South Africa should be considered interconnected to the literature from other countries on the continent.  These new writers are offering plural truths which allow for levity and a new lightness of being.  He postulated that the next concern for African cultural literature are authors who are represented as African authors but who no longer live in Africa.  It seems simple that this will happen because publishers find it easier to deal with a local author rather than one who is on the continent.  However, these authors call into question the authenticity not of their individual voice but their individual voice being held up as representative for a whole people once again.

Small Acts of Kindness

20140519-210407-75847836.jpgSmall acts of kindness touch me because they are generally unshowy and genuine. I don’t mean that large gestures cannot also be genuine but sometimes it feels grandiose. Those acts seem more about the doer and not about the action. Over the past week I there have been many small acts of kindness people have shown me and I’m very grateful to them. There were a couple of combi drivers who gave me a free lift. One on the day it was raining which was really lovely. I think the clouds here have more water in them because even when it drizzles it seems like I get soaked! Another guy gave me a lift on Friday afternoon from campus to the gym. I had my bag packed for the gym but when leaving campus sometimes it is difficult to turn left towards the gym instead of right towards the hotel. Both of the drivers were guys that I knew from school trips. I guess the upside to getting car sick and not being able to ride with my friends in the back is that I now know about a 1/2 dozen drivers. They’re cool guys and I have learned a lot from each of them. Then Friday evening a group of us girls were walking back from dinner, in the rain, and a little too late when Stephanie accidentally flagged down one of the shuttle buses. He stopped and I ran over to ask if he could give us a lift. He totally could’ve just said “no” because that is normally not how they do things but he didn’t. He was kind and gave us a lift back to our accomodations. Then this evening I went to the student restaurant for dinner after laying down for a couple of hours waiting for the Goody’s Headache powder to kickin. When I finally got up and when down there the lady working there this evening asked me if I wanted chicken for dinner. I was a little confused at first because none of the food trays were empty. When I looked at the meat offerings, I definitely wanted chicken! I told her yes that I would like some and she went to the regular restaurant and brought some back for me. It went perfectly with the rice and squash. I was really moved. I’m sure there are many more incidents where people went out of their way that I am not even aware of but I thought I’d take a minute and share my gratitude.

Charity Event

Saturday night I went to a fundraiser at the Music Kitchen that was organized by a group of NMMU students as part their project for public relations class. They did an amazing job! The event rivaled other fundraisers I’ve been to hosted by professionals. They were raising money for Masifunde, a homework club in Walmer Township.  The video gives you an overview of the history of the homework club and the township itself.  I really enjoyed being out with a big mix of people, having a few ciders, an awesome burger, and totally chill music.


First ride in an illegal taxi

Today was a nice relaxing day. I slept in until 8:30 and got up slowly. Did a few pieces of laundry (at home it would’ve been a couple of loads not because I have that much laundry here but at home I can procrastinate), had coffee (one of my Woolworth’s purchases), and did a little writing. When I finally did get out of the hotel, I went to the gym for a couple of hours. Instead of taking a combi straight back to the hotel I walked down to the flea market. I’m glad I waited to buy souvenir from the flea market instead of buying them when I first got here. When we first got here there were still lots of tourists and so the starting price was much higher then as compared to now. I was specifically looking for a South Africa purse in George Mason’s school colors. And today I finally found it! I wanted a green bag with South Africa written in yellow. Perfect for fall semester!










When I got to the end of the market I decided to take a break and have lunch at Nando’s while I was at that end. Can I just say, that I’m really excited there is a Nando’s Chicken in D.C.! I’ll be able to get peri-peri sauce! It was a nice, light lunch, and delicious as always.

Nando's features South African artists on their menus

Nando’s features South African artists on their menus

I went back to the market for a couple of small items I’d scoped out earlier. Then caught a combi back to the hotel. I am about 95% sure that this was an illegal taxi. I found out on Friday from Shane, one of the drivers I know, that they are assigned their route on their taxi license. So, if a driver is on the route he is assigned he knows that route. If someone needs to go off the main route the drivers will take them and if they are slow for fares on a particular day or time they’ll go off the main roads to see if anyone needs a ride. Our student accommodations are within a working hotel and so it is not only students who take the combis to the hotel but also the hotel workers. All of the drivers who are supposed to be on this route know where to go when you say “Summer Inn.” I used to say “Summerstrand Hotel” but “Summer Inn” is what the workers call it and all of the drivers know this place. However, my driver today did not know “Summer Inn.” His helper also didn’t know what I was talking about and of course they didn’t turn down their music to hear me more clearly *smiles* The helper just said, “You can show us.” The process was made less complicated because the passenger in the front seat knew what I was talking about and was able to give the driver directions in Xhosa.

It tastes like ‘Merica

Today, I did a rare thing. I spent most all day at a mall. Honestly, I do not think that I have ever done this before. When I lived in Greensboro and Jennifer would want me to go shopping with her I’d end up ditching her and her mom in favor of Barnes and Noble. As a backup plan I had a copy of my thesis with me this afternoon to work on edits for that moment I was sure would come and I’d duck out of this shopping activity. But it never came. We had a totally chill day at the Walmer Park Mall. I picked up a few necessities and found a blouse on sale that was a want not a need. We had a great lunch, I had an ostrich wrap (as you can see below).

Then we stopped in the Brittish treat shop that specializes in sweets, teas, and cake mixes from the U.K. I hadn’t realized the other times I had been in this shop that they also carry a couple of items from the United States. So, I got a Dr. Pepper (better than in the US ’cause its made with cane sugar and not corn syrup) and a package of Reese’s Cups. I was pretty excited after this little purchase and opened them in the bookstore we went to next. As I took the first bite I said, “That tastes like ‘merica.” Before I ate all 3 of the Reese’s cups, I was back in the store buying two more packages of them. I was holding the last bite in my hand as I brought the other two up to the cashier and had a huge guilty smile on my face. The cashier was awesome and said, “No judgement here!” I now have the Dr. Pepper in my fridge and the Reese’s cups are getting even more chill in my freezer!


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