Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Forts, Mountains, and a Party


I have done quiet a bit in the last few days. I went on a tour of Parliament on Friday and then returned to the house for a lecture about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC was a commission that allowed people to come forward in a very public forum and speak about the atrocities that they had committed during the Apartheid and ask for amnesty. This TRC also gave people a chance to talk about the hardships that they have faced as a result of Apartheid. It was an extremely interesting talk and was given by one of the research directors of the TRC. That night we built a fort and slept under it.

Saturday was pretty relaxed. We had a braii and watched movies under the fort.

On Sunday we climbed Lion’s Head, which is part of a range of mountains. It took about 4 hours but it was a lot of fun. On the way we got gatsby’s (enormous sub sandwiches with chicken and fries in them), returned home to watch a final movie under the fort.

On Monday I was at work from 12PM to 11PM, because it was the day of the party. I spent the majority of the day getting ready for the party and helping out with the Libraries Campaign. We have run into a major issue in the campaign. We have been forced to postpone the walk that we are having in September, which is supposed to be the major event of campaign. The walk is taking place in Cape Town so we need to bus learners in from all other townships and suburbs. The date of the event was going to be the September 2nd, but we recently discovered there would be a taxi strike starting on September 1st. We tried everything to get the learners there, but most of the options were rather dangerous so we had to postpone the date. It would have been dangerous because the way that we would have gotten the learners there would be from van companies which look similar to taxis. If people saw the vans driving during the strike in certain townships, it could result in attacks on the vans. So the we are changing the date to the September 22nd. The issue is that we have tons of printed material with the date as the 2nd, so now we have to cross out or draw in the 22nd on thousands of flyers. So I have been in charge of getting stickers to plaster over the old date that says the new date. Apart from that on Monday we had the party that I was planning for. It went well and we had a relatively good turnout. We had live music and people from Equal Education (including myself) talked about the organization and the on going Campaign for School Libraries. We got a lot of people to help out in the campaign, which was very helpful. All of the fellow service-learners and Ronel came along to support me, which was great. I think the people who came enjoyed themselves.

As for today, I am still working on the stickers and getting a new project to work on. Tomorrow, I will be returning to Parliament where the President Jacob Zuma will be speaking.

Until Next Time

Salani Kakuhle


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Equal Education Update


Usaphila? (How are you keeping? in Xhosa) I just got done with my work week today. This week was pretty hectic, between class and school. I have been busy at Equal Education organizing for party that we are having his coming Monday. I have been sending out invites and confirming plans at the restaurants. Aside from sending email invites to everyone, today I called all the people to confirm that they are attending. We hope to have around 70 guests so I had to make quite a few calls. However, if you do not keep on people they will not remember to show up/RSVP. The calling was not in vein though, because I got a bunch of RSVPs out of it.

Following the calls I went to help out at the Youth Group meeting. This is where Equal Education gets all of its support from students. It is where students from all over come to meet up and help in campaigns. Today the students made posters and banners to be held up at walk on September 2nd. The posters for the most part looked really good and will hopefully get the message across on the 2nd. The majority of the EE staff was in Kraifontein today working at a walk for libraries. The event apparently went extremely well and according to conflicting reports there were between 700 and 2000 people. Either number would be considered a success. We got a lot of publicity due to an article in the newspaper following a press conference we held regarding the state of libraries on Tuesday.

Yesterday I visited South Peninsula High’s library where we will be taking a group of learners (students) from Khayelitsha. The idea is that seeing a functional library will motivate them to want to have the same quality library in their schools. It was a nice library, but nowhere near what a high school library should look like in the US. It looked more like an elementary school library and was only big enough for about a maximum of 20 learners. It did look quite nice for what they had though.

The day before I finished work early and picked up my computer. So I finally have my technology issues sorted and both my phone and my computer are working. It has been nice to have working instruments.

On Monday I went around with Lumkile and Nokubonga (Bonga) and delivered letters to different schools in Khayelitsha. We were hand delivering the letters, in the hope that we would have the chance to talk to the principals at each of the schools. The letters were asking the schools to join our effort to achieve functioning school libraries and full time librarians in all schools in Khayelitsha. The larger goal is all of South Africa, but for the time being we are localized to Khayelitsha. It was interesting to drop off the letters because I got a chance to walk around a bit in Khayelitsha and visit about 15-20 schools in the area. Khayelitsha is a massive township so we were only in one section and we had to drive from school to school.

At night there has not been too much going on. Besides watching Jerusalema, a movie about “gangsterism” in Johannesburg, things have pretty laid back. We do not have much planned for this week, but tomorrow we are going to visit Parliament. I am really looking forward to this.

I will let you all know how it goes.

Salani Kakuhle.

Themba (My Xhosa name)

Igama lam ngu Themba. (My name is Themba – in Xhosa)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shortened School Week


It has been about a week since I last posted and quiet a bit has happened since then. I started my second week of service at Equal Education. On Tuesday I helped organize leafleting and petitioning in Cape Town for the current libraries campaign. We sent a group of our youth volunteers out into the community to raise awareness about our campaign to raise funds for Libraries in Khayelitsha. On Wednesday, I worked on finding a price for stickers that we can give out for the library campaign. We hope to be able to print out these stickers for our members, so that people can show support for Equal Education. We also went to a bowling alley as a get together for our whole staff. It was a good way to get to know the people in the office. I had the highest score of about 20 people playing, however, the majority of the people had never bowled before. Everyone on the staff really enjoyed it though, so it was a lot of fun. I hadn't seen people have that much fun bowling in a while.

That night everyone in the house went out for a stand up comedy show in Rondebosch (the neighborhood where we live). There was about 6 comedians, some better than others, but we all enjoyed the show. Two of the girls in our group were the target of quite a few jokes, which is to be expected as Americans in a South African comedy club.On Thursday we had a lecture at the University of the Western Cape. After the lecture I got dropped off at a restaurant called Don Pedro. There I had to do some work for Equal Education. I am in charge of setting up a company event where we are inviting all of our donors and friends. The event is to get everyone energized and excited for the last/largest event of the campaign. The last event is mobilizing over 2,000 students to walk on September 2 for school libraries. Nevertheless, I was at Don Pedro to book the venue for the party. So we will be having the event there on Aug. 24 as a part of the final push of the campaign. That night, we had people over to watch movies and relaxed.

On Friday, we had a lecture about diversity in South Africa and we took a trip to Bo-Kaap (a Muslim neighborhood in Cape Town). We returned home and I went to play basketball with Simon. I ended up playing with an intramural team that needed an extra player. It was a good time and we ended up winning. I returned home and began cooking. We had a potluck dinner. We invited a bunch of people and we each cooked something for dinner. We had a ton of food and Eva and I made fried rice. The food was so good and we had a lot of leftovers.

We woke up the next day and watched movies and laid around. Besides a trip into Claremont (a nearby neighborhood) it was a pretty lazy day.

Today was a pretty eventful day. We started off by going to the South Africa History Museum. There we saw a planetarium show, which was really cool. Its one of those things where you recline and there is a dome and stars are depicted on the ceiling. We learned about the length of days. We were also treated to a special show following the main show. Six of us from the group stayed behind and the guy there showed us the constellations in the sky tonight and how they differ from how we see them in the US. From there we went to the V&A Waterfront where we saw the sun go down. We followed that up with dinner and dessert at the waterfront.

It has been a good week and I am prepared to get to work this coming week. Hopefully this week my computer will be fixed as well, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I will write soon and I hope you are all enjoying the summer.

Lalani Kakuhle.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Women's Day Weekend


I have just celebrated my first Women's Day. Women's Day celebrates the a multiracial group of women who marched on the against the Apartheid government in the 1950s. As a result I had no work or school today. We celebrated Women's Day yesterday, by going to Mzoli's Meat (a restaurant in the Gougalethu township). We were there from 12 to 630, eating, dancing, and listening to music. The only bad part was that they only played House and Kwaito (similar to techno). It's not my favorite type of music, but they play it at most clubs and parties so I have gotten use to it. Not all of it is bad, it can be repetitive and difficult to dance to. When we came back and a few of us went out to eat and then came back and watched The Beach. So the end of the night was not so hectic as most people were tired from Mzoli's.

We also had pretty big weekend outside of Women's Day. On Friday I stayed home while everyone else went to Long St. because I had to get my computer fixed (still waiting to get it fixed). I then brought back KFC to the house, where it was to be ravaged by Ronel and Tabbi. We then went out and bought food for the braii that we hosted that same night. A lot of people were attendence and we after the braii we watched three movies: Superbad, Kill Bill, and Step Brothers.

The next day was the day of the rugby game. We started off the day with a hike around Table Mountain with Simon and some of his friends. We got back in time to relax and then go to watch the rugby game at Cybar. Unfortunately the tickets for the game fell through, but we were able to watch the game on TV at a bar. It was a good game and South Africa handily defeated the Aussie's by of score of 29-17. Following the game a group of us went to our friend Kent's cousin's 21st birthday party. Apparently the 21st birthday for unmarried and childless people is still a pretty big in SA even though the drinking age is 18. This is because you have made it to 21 without doing anything to severely screw it up. It was an extremely nice house, but we were really under dressed so we did not stay for very long. We then took a 30 minute walk through the cold back to cybar where we stayed for another hour.

So that was my weekend. Today was pretty uneventful. The majority of my time was spent buying groceries and playing basketball with Simon and Kent. I have a shortened week coming up so I am hoping it will be a good one. Until then... salani kakuhle.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Started at Equal Education


Ndiphilile (I am alive/I am doing well) I have started my first week of work at Equal Education. Everything has been good and I am learning my way around the office. I just started on Tuesday, but everyone at the office seems pretty cool. I have been making calls for the most part at this point. Equal Education is preparing for a Youth Career Expo this coming Saturday so a lot of attention is devoted to that. We are also gearing up for our Libraries Campaign, which is to improve/construct libraries in Khayelitsha. Khayelitsha is primarily Black township just outside of Cape Town with probably over 1 million residents (official numbers are pretty sketchy). Only 7% of schools in South Africa have functioning libraries, only 25% of schools in the Western Cape have functioning libraries (the majority of the functioning libraries are suburban fee-charging schools), and in Khayelitsha only 5 of 53 public schools have functioning libraries. So that is what we are currently looking to improve.

Besides that, this weekend, we have quite a bit planned so far. We do not have school or work on Monday due to Women's Day, so we have a 4 day weekend. On Saturday we are going to the Tri-Nations Rugby Cup. The three nations participating are South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. We are going to the game between South Africa and Australia, so it should be a pretty good game. Currently SA is at the top of the tournament with 3 wins and no losses. I am really looking forward to the game. We also plan to go walk around on Long Street on Friday and visit Mzoli's Restaurant in the Gugulethu township on Women's Day.

I hope you are enjoying the warm weather, because here it is 50 and raining.

Talk to you soon. Salani Kakuhle


Monday, August 3, 2009

The Weekend

Hello All,

The weekend has past and we have now started the 2nd week of classes. Its crazy to think that we have already been here for 3 weeks. Regardless, this last weekend was a lot of fun. We started it early on Thursday night when we went to a poetry reading at the Aquarium. It was so awesome, there was free wine and cheese, we got to look around at all the fishes, and then we stayed for about 40 minutes of spoken word. It was really awesome and by some miracle it was only 40 Rand (about $5). No where else in the States can you get that kind of deal.

Following the spoken word we went out to dinner at this place called San Marco. The five of us had a great dinner for a total of about $50. The food is considerably cheaper here than back home which is pretty cool.

Friday we went to the University of the Western Cape where we had a lecture about the history and politics of South Africa. It was an extremely impressive lecture, as he gave a through lecture in under an hour, that would have normally taken 4 semesters to cover.

Then on Saturday we went to the Castle of Good Hope which is the oldest building in Cape Town/South Africa. This is base that the Dutch build upon the arrival of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). There we learned about early SA and its military history. Following the Castle we went to the Slave Lodge, which is a building where slaves were brought to be traded. The museum is based where the slaves were housed before the they were sold out front on a tree stump.

Sunday wasn't too eventful and I did laundry. The highlight of the night was free dinner at a restuarant. The catch was we had to listen to a talk about traveling in and out of SA during breaks. However, it was quite informative and some of the trips look pretty cool.

Today we had class and after a group of us went to Long St. and 3 of the girls got piercings. The bad news is that my laptop is not really working at the moment. So I am trying to get it fixed at the university's IT place. So at present I am unable to use a computer as much as I would like, but I am using Eva's laptop for the moment.

But for now, I will bid you goodbye. I hope you are doing well.

Lalani Kakuhle. (Sleep Well in Xhosa)