We have seen mankind’s start from millions of years ago, here in Africa, horrible atrocities committed by the Nationalist government, along with the positive and negative aspects of the TRC. We have visited the Apartheid Museum, Wits Museum, and had the pleasure of visiting Soweto where we toured Mandela House and the Hector Peterson Museum. With all this being said, nothing meant more than when I received my own African name.
We were at St. John’s Church, Sunday morning and were introduced to the congregation as their Emory University friends from the United States. Pastor Maake Masango, stated that there were chocolate brown visitors as well in our group whose ancestors were taken from their home land of Africa and now that we are home, he would give us an African name; I was so elated that I began to cry. I am Thabo, which means the bringer of joy! I will never forget that moment.
It’s Tuesday, 6:00AM in the Western Cape and a breezy 53 degrees outside as we wait for powdered tea and coffee. The spiritual whirling of the air and the noise of the animals keep you on your toes as we wait for the morning safari to begin.
Dawn has not come, the rain is light, but the wind is high. The terrain is rough in our TATA vehicle. Suddenly, we hit a bump and I fly out of my seat, thankfully landing on my feet. We come to a stop and there is a hippo to the right out of water. You normally can’t see them in the day unless they are in water so for us, this was a real treat.
We trudge along the craggy terrain and see a zebra on the left and a camouflaged giraffe on the right. The zebras kick is 5 times the strength of the horse and the giraffe’s kick is 10 times stronger than the zebra. We saw the buffalo, the wildebeest, lions, ostrich, springbok, rhino, elephant and then concluded the safari by received a grand view of the hippos in water.
After the safari, it’s back to the resort for breakfast and then the bus headed to the outskirts of Worcester headed to Stellenbosch. On the way, we visited Victor Verster Prison, now called the Groot Drakenstein correctional facility. This facility is where Nelson Mandela spent his final months of imprisonment. A bronze statue of Mandela shows him with a raised fist.
Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 and is said to be the birthplace of the Apartheid where thousands of Africans were displaced from their homes and given shacks to live in. As you ride through the town, you see all of the beautiful homes and high-end shops, including the university. Immediately, outside of town, you see miles of shacks where people lived in the past and still currently live, simply because of the color of their skin. This journey has and continues to weigh heavy on my heart. It is my hope that all who read these blogs learn from the past and wish for positive change in our future.
I am Thanicia Childs, Emory alumni and a proud employee of Emory University’s Office of the General Counsel.