Heyyyyy! So I’m back from a ten day visit to the Motherland, South Africa to be specific, and I’m not sure I’m happy to be back! I had the most ahhhhmazing time with the most ahhhhmazing people and it was quite honestly hard to leave such a beautiful and electric place. Before going to South Africa, there were lots of stereotypes floating around in my head and at times I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve always heard how developed and advanced the country was but the stereotypical images that you see portrayed by the mainstream media and then repeated by people make it hard for you to not be ignorant.
Africa for as long as we have known it has always been unfairly characterized and stereotyped as a place of poverty, as a place of corruption and as a violent place, but look around your country. Can’t you say the exact same thing about where you live? I know I surely can. When I arrived in South Africa, my first thought, I kid you not was, “this is a nice airport”. Then as I got into our bus and began to drive, I said, ‘wow, this looks like America’. Yes, this part of Africa, I can vouch for has developed roads and highways, just like America and Canada and any place you may visit. No, I didn’t sleep in huts or hunt and eat my own food.
Why did I choose to visit Africa? To be honest Africa has always been on my bucket list because I felt that it was my duty as a black person to visit the land of my ancestors. Africa has contributed so much to humanity, so much so that it is the ‘cradle of humanity’. In case you didn’t know, Africa is said to be the birthplace of humanity. It is the place where every living and breathing human being is said to have descended from. Have you heard about Lucy? One one of the most important fossils to have ever been discovered, in Africa, or what about the Tuang Child, discovered in the Cradle of Humanity. The World Heritage Site by UNESCO located in Johannesburg, South Africa has produced some of the oldest hominin fossils ever found and there are still active excavation sites, so who knows what else will be found.
During my time in South Africa, it became clearer to me how similar I was to these people. It was a lightbulb moment. A few examples in particular; the way we worship (Baptist style), the way we dance (fly), the way we dress (Sunday’s best). The things we eat…(not so much game meat tho). Could you imagine my shock when I visited a school in South Africa and spotted a young child eating a baggie? Mind absolutely blown. Baggie, if you’re not Bahamian, is simply some sort of sweet drink poured into a small plastic bag, frozen and then eaten. Or, how about when I went into the school yard and saw the kids playing ‘ring play’. Again, if you’re not Bahamian, ring play is a dance that we played in school, you form a circle and then take turns dancing in the middle of the ring.
To be honest, it felt good to be home. It felt like home. This could’ve been my life, had my ancestors not been taken on a boat. The parallels and similarities to my Caribbean upbringing clearly were brought over on the boat.
As the minutes turned into hours and the hours into days, I began to slowly fall in love with the country and continent. I learned about the bravery and heroism of South Africans during their fight for freedom during apartheid; the freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, O.R. Tambo, Chris Hani and countless others that didn’t waver in the face of injustice. I learned about the strength of the disenfranchised and their unmovable and unshakable spirit. I learned about the history of South Africa, something they will not allow you to forget during my visits to the Nelson Mandela house, Robben Island, Hector Pieterson Memorial, and Apartheid Museum. I learned that Africans are proud people, people that have been through hell and made it out to tell the tale.
While I was only in South Africa for ten days, it felt like I was able to see and do so much. There were so many magical and transforming moments on my first trip to Africa. Top favourite moments were our visit to Lion Park where I was able to see the majestic and ferocious lions, our Safari adventure at the Mongena Game Lodge where I was able to witness the gentle giant elephants in their natural habitats and our visit to Robben Island in Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for eighteen years. While these were priceless moments, my all-time favourite moment of my Africa adventure was our stop to two primary schools in Johannesburg.
There is no better feeling than being a blessing to others and that is exactly what happened when Explore Africa Tour and the Myles & Ruth Munroe Foundation visited the Buhle Park Primary School and the Magagula Primary School. The Foundation, in honor of the late Dr. Myles & Ruth Munroe seeks to be agents of change, and that they did while donating shoes, monetary donations and time to those in need. We spent the day painting one of the schools and playing and interacting with children. It was a life changing experience that I won’t soon forget. While I set out to explore Africa and play with lions and elephants, being able to give back to those beautiful and smiling faces was more important and satisfying than anything else.
While I have so much more to share with you, I just wanted to start here and get the ball rolling. I have so many major experiences to blog about, and so many videos to edit. I have tons of stuff to upload in the upcoming weeks, but just bear with me….it’s the holiday season. 🙂
But, before I go I just wanted to share with you one quote that resonated with me the entire time I was in South Africa, “Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.” South Africa was amazing, I can’t say that enough. All of the stereotypes, all of the ‘why are you going there’, took a back seat to what I experienced. Create your own moments, don’t live anyone else’s experience, don’t take my word for it, just go, see for yourself.
LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!