Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Schministim cont./Robben Island/Productive Week


Since last week I have been pretty busy, but also fairly productive. After the Ashley Kriel lecture the kids from the Schministim came to the Youth Group meetings that we have at Equal Education every Tuesday and Thursday. At the YG the Schministim kids spoke to the Youth Group about their experiences and gave the background of Israeli/Palestinian conflict. After their talk the YG members had the opportunity to ask questions. After several questions about their experiences, one of the Equalizers asked if the Schministim kids if they would join Equal Education. To which the the Schministim kids responded that yes, they would join Equal Education, to the applause of the YG. It was a learning experience for everyone, because the YG kids also gave a presentation to the Schministim about Equal Education.

The next day we had a lecture about the politics in contemporary South Africa. During this talk the professor broke down the history of South African politics and how it has evolved into what it is today. It was interesting being about ask him about the of the strength of ANC (African National Congress) and the legacy of Thabo Mbeki. The ANC currently is overwhelming ruling party in Parliament and President Zuma is the head of the ANC. The ANC is the Party of famous South African's such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Thabo Mbeki, and they symbolize the party of liberation from Apartheid. As a result they win elections by a 80% majority. (It would be like the Democrats winning the presidential election with 80% percent of the vote and controlling the Senate 80 to 20. However, it becomes more complicated because seats are awarded differently so there are multiple parties with members in parliament. So it would be like 80, 7, 5, 4, 2, 1,1) As a result, there does not appear to be any end in sight for the ANC as the ruling party. There is not a strong enough minority party to unseat the ANC, especially because the next largest contender is the DA (Democratic Alliance) which has support mostly from Whites and so called Coloured people. So their support will pretty much never get larger than what that populous size is.

As for Thabo Mbeki was the president following Nelson Mandela. He did many great things for establishing Africa and South Africa as a major world player. However, he was also famous for denying the connection between HIV and AIDS (and questioned the existence of AIDS). During his time as president he made it difficult for HIV/AIDS patients to receive IRVs and as a result thousands of South Africans died. Regardless, the professor still though that Mbeki's legacy will be his masterful handling of foreign policy.

Following the lecture we went to Robben Island. Robben Island is the place where political prisoners were held by the Apartheid government for their alleged terrorist activity. This is where people like Nelson Mandela, President Jacob Zuma, Walter Sisulu, and Robert
Sobukwe were held during the Apartheid. During our trip there we visited Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 of his 27 year prison term. We also saw the place where the prisoners did their outdoor prison labor. This was also the place where much of the planning for the post-Apartheid government took place among these major anti-Apartheid leaders. One of the most interesting places we visited was the former prison house for Robert Sobukwe. Robert Sobukwe, he had his own house built, separate from the rest of the incarcerated population. There he was not allowed to have any human contact. His food was dropped off by guards and he was only allowed to see his family once a month under tight supervision. He was thought to be such a threat to the Apartheid government that they had to hide him from the rest of society.

The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxed besides a trip to long street with Bre, Sam, Amira, Nikhil, and his sisters. We had lunch and hung out around town.

The week so far I have been fairly productive. I have been able to get 10 pages into my Capstone project, finish my final reflection paper, finish my RA application, send a bunch of emails, write and send a congratulatory letter to the newly elected General Secretary of SADTU (South African Democratic Teachers Union), draft a letter that will be sent to all 800 secondary schools in South Africa, and start my application for the Business Scholars.

So all in all it has been a good week. Pictures to be up soon from the trip to Robben Island and other adventures.

Salani Kakuhle.


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