Posted in travel

The sun couldn’t stay. The day was done!

What is your daily routine. Time spent in the office, labouring over heaps of papers and dictated by statistics. The standard office job that we strive to get one day. University, disguised by the sports, state of the art lecture theaters and the hustle and bustle of campus life. Now don’t believe what you are reading to be pessimistic. Neither is it about university or where you work. Its about seeing that life is like chart topping song. We listen, the thumping beat draws us in and the melody loosens our bodies, ooh don’t you love it. Yet the melody and the beat are only one part of the song. Listen more carefully and the words begin to stand out and that’s the real essence of the song, giving it meaning. I’m clearly not a philosopher judging by my comparison. Although the point is that we are easily caught up in the flow of the song but we don’t hear the message.

Sitting at my poorly finished, pine wood desk in my tiny box of a room, it’s 12:30 am says my watch. Around this time my thoughts get deep and with every puckering key stroke, different emotions come and go. While I hear about Justin Bieber more important matters are fighting for my attention like squabbling children with the TV remote. I find myself wondering how to escape it all. The only idea that calms my thoughts is the childish awe of adventure in all of us.

Imagine a scenario. You wake up with the sun rising over the distant ridge and chirping birds outside your window. Yet there is no time to listen because its 6:30am and you are late for work. Today is presentation day and out comes that special suit. It fits a bit more tightly than the last time you wore it but it will have to do. In the car and off to work but you miss the morning traffic because you are a legend and know a secret route. Yet your focus stays being on time and not the thrill of the adventure on your secret path. You have arrived and striding through the door and somehow there are 7 minutes left. Just enough time to sort out your desk in the office overlooking the boutique coffee shop, a story below, as the steam wafts off in the cool morning air. A glossy red envelope on the dark wooden desk stares at you. What is it. You open it, it’s a letter. Meaning of life disappears, as it reads: “your services are no longer required”. You have been made redundant! What now? Emotions are wild. But you will be payed out a considerable amount for your services to the company over the last 12 years. Where do you go from here? Either look for another job, or accept it as a challenge and opportunity? You listen to the words of the song and see the meaning of the situation. Most people would love to leave their job and discover the world, the courage is destroyed by the “what ifs”.

Lately I’ve been watching “Sailing La Vagabonde” on YouTube. Its about a young, quirky Australian couple who left their jobs to sail around the world, chasing the sunset. They hop from Island to Island, having an adventure. Although what gripped me more than the amazing scenery and adventure, is the courage it takes to leave the structure of society and having an adventure. There is so much meaning in these type of life choices, even if we don’t realise it at the time. Its definitely worth a watch.

So the point of this whole blog as it stretches into the early hours is simply to share my view of how life can be seen as there is so much more we can take advantage of in life. Sorry to every reader but YOLO! Do you agree? Any thoughts on my late night / early morning mental and emotional theft I share with you.  Lewis Carroll had it so right:

“IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have,and the decisions we waited too long to make.”- Lewis Carroll

Adventure is in everything we do, every day. The sun will rise every day and today it couldn’t be more beautiful.

DCIM104GOPRO

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in africa

The embodiment of controversy: Cecil John Rhodes

Rhodes Essay                           : A painted shadow referring to the colonial legacy left behind from                                           the podium where the statue of C J Rhodes once stood.

A desire for wealth and power leaves a legacy of hardship and a poor call for a national identity. There is an amazing ability of individuals to affect the course of history, leading to greater socioeconomic impact than ever envisioned. One’s legacy outlives one’s life, benefiting some and oppressing others through generations to come. Over time it transitions into its most dangerous state, cultural hegemony. For insight I interviewed a current student majoring in African history.

From Rhodes to Rhodesia

Cecil Rhodes was born in England on the 5th of July 1853. He was one of nine sons to a priest. Cecil’s health was poor and stayed close to home attending the local school. later he was sent to Natal, South Africa to help on his brother’s cotton farm. As all stories have a twist of human desire, so does the life of Cecil John Rhodes. Realising that cotton was not going to make him a wealthy man and thus followed the money in mining.

He trekked to the new diamond fields now known as Kimberly. He worked the mine for a while and opened De Beers mining company in 1880. His wealth was set into an upward spiral from there. Returning in 1881, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, from England, his most influential ideas were conceived while he roamed the unsettled plains of the Transvaal, alone for six months. He dreamed of white British imperialism where Britain ruled all of her colonies and eventually the United States of America.

Moving into the land of the Ndebele people (Zimbabwe) and manipulated their king, Lobengula, to mine in the area through the Rudd Concession. Very cunningly he used the language barrier to get Lobengula to sign a document, handing the land over to Cecil J Rhodes. Legend has it that Lobengula, being illiterate, signed the document using a simple X. Upon discovering the true meaning, Lobengula tried to renounce the document but it was too late.

Rhodes took political interest and after six seats opened in the ‘Cape House of Assembly’, Rhodes became a member of the ‘Cape Parliament’ in 1880. Later becoming the Prime Minister of the Cape in 1890. With his wealth and influence he created the ‘Glen Grey Act’ to push black Africans off their land and “stimulate them to labour”. Black people who were previously allowed to vote, could no longer.  Eventually in 1913, one of Rhodes’ main projects materialised, the ‘Natives Land Act’. Dissalowing black people from buying land and also from leasing “white owned land”, forcing black people in these areas into wage labour. This was the cornerstone of ‘Apartheid’ that disallowed white and black people from sharing the same areas and officially implemented in 1948.

From liberation to oppression: why these go hand in hand

After the independence of African countries, the leaders, liberators, becoming oppressors. Their ideals were shaped by colonisation, yet this is what they fought against. Where ideals of capitalist society cause greed and destroy a nation, evident in Zimbabwe.

However, Cecil John Rhodes was only a cog in the machine, that was colonialism and imperialism, built by Europe. An extremely central cog nonetheless. Europe wanted to expand their territories. However, with total disregard to Africans, perceived as ‘savages’ and ‘barbarians’. Desiring wealth and power, humans were dehumanised. With the arrival of the Europeans, the people who called Africa their home had their world turned upside down. Consequently, this greed gave birth to a social epidemic affecting society, long after colonisation seemed to be over. Apart from social inequality to this day, colonialism still effecting almost every country in Africa and hindering their progress as a nation due to the colour of their skin. The effects of colonisation is clearly evident outside Africa. The Northern and Southern Americas are faced with the same social division.

Botswana opposed Rhodes. It was a British protectorate, governed by England and did not fall under Cecil Rhodes’ empire. Three kings traveled to England to oppose the incorporation of Bechuanaland (now Botswana). They won and defeated Rhodes who stated “it is humiliating being utterly beaten”. Botswana has turned out to be one of the most politically stable countries in Africa.

The ultimate rhetoric question must be asked. What if Europeans had left Africa alone? What would we find if we arrived today? However, it is too late for what ifs! The damage has been done. Although I seem to wonder if this machine knew what legacy it would leave behind and the destruction it would cause or just concerned with personal gain? Who knew that the actions of one man would have such major repercussions long after he has come and gone? But one thing is certain, a terminal illness in the form of greed paved the way for a raging social issue driven by factors that seemingly were only skin deep. With a generation in a search for answers and capitalism driving onward, I ask myself how it could all have been different.

Responding to this, my interviewee (Jamie), shared his point of view in context, stating “Ordinate 50 of 1828, gave Khoisan and other people of colour the ability to choose where to work and limited power of ‘masters’ and ‘mistresses’ over them. They could own land and move ‘freely’ within the Cape Colony. However, it seems as though Rhodes managed to reverse this, almost completely, later. So had it not been for Cecil John Rhodes, its arguable that South Africa could have been a more unified country, possibly a true ‘rainbow nation’”.

Posted in africa, travel, Uncategorized

The Tourist Factor- South African Relationship

It’s been a long week at university and nearing the end of the semester. Along with most students, of all shapes and sizes, races, cultures and ages, Jamie agrees. The

adjective ‘long’ is given to the week thanks to tests and assignments due, robbing students of some of their precious eight hours of beauty sleep. This is a common agent causing stress among this community of students at the University of Cape Town in the city of… Cape Town, as the name may slightly hint. Although, when the test is written and the assignment is submitted, we go home to a bed for some much needed R&R. Having just been paid that monthly allowance, why not a night out to celebrate with friends. A lifestyle we take for granted!

The university is a boiling pot of cultures, boasting people from almost every nation. Jamie Rood, is a UCT student hailing from England, the land of opportunity. It is afforded this name for the multitudes of Africans who are Europe bound straight out of high school. So why would a British boy come to South Africa to study?

South Africa happens to be one of the major destinations for all foreigners wanting to experience the ‘motherland’ first hand. We boast all the characteristics of other African countries in terms of wildlife and village culture, even if it is staged in some aspects in order to appeal to the tourists. Dancers in traditional wear, performing for tourist landing straight out of Europe.  The tourists think ‘this is Africa’ and walk by the performers who also live real lives and try to make a living. Tourists can have the ‘real’ African experience whilst still enjoying the modern infrastructure. Most are oblivious to the semi-staged reality and even if they were aware, their main concern is to go back home with a good conversation starter about ‘what the real Africa is like’ and ‘by some miracle not having contracted Ebola’, what a story. Tourists are labelled with this selfish badge quite often, seen as rich snobs coming to have a good time with their dollars or pounds. However, others are drawn back and decide to stay or study, which is the case with Jamie. He is in his second year of university but has been here for four years. He is one of many who pay their fees in pounds, dollars or euros which then circulate in the country’s economy. Thinking about this I become tempted to say the label becomes invalid, if not unjust.

   Screen shots from my video about the relationship between tourists and immigrants. On YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXC0nev6vss

Because tourism plays a much bigger role in society than the lives of university students. It impacts the whole of South Africa, crossing borders leading to the rest of Africa. This is because there is another side to people who come into South Africa. Apart from tourists who come into the country for leisure purposes, others come here not because they want to but because they need to and are in search of a better life. These are the immigrants from all over Africa, hoping to escape the poor conditions brought about by colonisation and poor leadership by some current leaders. Who wouldn’t follow suit if they were in such a position. After all, this is actually evident at a global scale with the current European refugee crisis being a prime example of this. In South Africa however, this immigration in search for work conflicts with the already work scarce country. Xenophobia is the manifestation of this and is a clear issue. Is there a need for this? Maybe, but on a wider scale, this immigration may only be temporary and resolve the bigger problem. People are connected to their home countries and don’t leave by choice but necessity. The idea being that once they have improved their lives they will go back home, providing jobs there and preventing others from having to leave their countries in this way. Then there is also the contested notion that competition is beneficial for society.

I had the privilege of encountering both sides of the spectrum. I gained a basic insight into the lives of both tourist’s type people in Jamie and also the lives of immigrants. I spoke to various immigrants, mainly at curio stalls around Cape Town, selling handmade arts and crafts to the tourists. Two of these immigrants shared a deeper story with me. Gabriel from Congo and Philip from Zimbabwe. Both of their stories were much the same in that their countries were economically unstable. In Congo, a war and in Zimbabwe, the hyperinflation with which the whole world is familiar. Yet with a true African, never say die attitude, in an effort to provide for their families, they made the trek to the closest tourist hot spot which would be South Africa, specifically Cape Town. What was striking was that Gabriel and Philip didn’t know each other yet both told me how vital tourism is to their lives and thus their families. Gabriel even has a degree in economics with which he graduated in Congo, although not even this qualification allowed him to get work at home. What is one to do?

Just as the sun rises every morning over the Atlantic ocean’s endless horizon, so does everyone with the need to progress in life, however endless that horizon may be. Whether as a student, tourist, immigrant or humble citizen in South Africa. Everyone benefits from everyone in one way or another. As Jamie the tourist buys a curio from Phillip, he uses this to buy food from a local resident in Gugulethu, who then pays for her child to go to school and the circle goes around. Thus it’s not impossible to say that this relationship creates a powerful force driving the people towards their horizon. Therefore the tourist can figuratively transform from a snob into a saint.