I feel like I’ve sat down to write a blog post so many times, but when my fingers start punching the keys nothing of worth has come out.
I guess it’s partially because it becomes harder to be a spectator of the experience you’re having once it stops being an experience and starts being your life. It has also become harder for me to detach myself from what I do every day to ask: what would people at home think is interesting? Which tidbits of life, who have I met, what have I seen would resonate with someone on the other side of the world?
To my luck, I’ve been able to express some of what I’ve been doing through photos and video, so at least that will paint the picture that my words can’t.
I do learn a bit more about myself and about South Africa and America every day. Last night (and nearly every Wednesday since I’ve been here) I’ve gone to a bar/club/restaurant called House of Nsako for Bantu Boer night. The idea is very progressive and aims to bring together the diverse generation that is shaping the future of South Africa.
We normally watch a thought-provoking and somewhat controversial documentary about Africa, and then have a discussion about what it means for this country. Nsako is like a mutual meeting place—there are both white and black South Africans and also a number of international people come to discuss the issues that are facing the nation.
Each time that I go, I listen attentively to the discussions that are very often racially charged. But I still haven't gotten the courage to speak confidently.
Last night we watched a documentary about Zimbabwe, what has happened under Mugabe, and how it is a microcosm of Africa as a whole. The discussion moved towards which type of government is best for South Africa and the rest of the continent.
It’s so interesting to be in a place where this generation of people really has the power to shape the future of South Africa. It was very clear last night that the days of the ANC are limited and people are starting to question which party, which leader, will actually be the best for South Africa. There is no other country like it in the world, so why should it try to emulate those governments?
The speakers challenged democracy and challenged each other to just look at South Africa: Without comparing it to the democracy of the West, what would work here?
There is so much potential for this country to set the standard for Africa. It is the first world, it is the third world, and if this generation of people can rise up and make the country what they want it to be, I think it will eventually bring the baseline, poverty-stricken people up.
But I think it also has to start with the classroom.
I have been around enough to see the discrepancies in education. I have gone to schools where teachers don’t show up, where they neglect the given curriculum, where their passion is dead, or never existed in the first place.
If something isn’t done in these rural areas, the wealth discrepancy will continue, only perpetuated by access to good education. How is it that in 2009 a nine year-old in Johannesburg knows how to surf the internet, create little videos, upload photos... and a child in the Eastern Cape has never been read to in his entire life because there are no books in his mother-tongue language?
I have faith in the passion of the people here to make this country what they want it to be, and I only wonder if I will be part of that effort, or if I will be watching it from the other side of the world.