The Legacy of Apartheid – South Africa

The elevator doors opened and I walked into the lobby of my hotel. Oddly enough everyone stared at me.  It seemed like everything stopped when I made my way through the space. I became self-conscious and ran (walked) back to my room until my friend came. I realized I wasn’t on some kind of “ego”trip when the same thing happened to her. Could they tell we were American? I thought we blended in quite well. Later that day at the Rosebank Mall it happened again. Locals broke their necks just to get a glimpse of us. Some smiled warmly, while others stared without flinching. I was curious as to why we were attracting so much attention. Was it the way we dressed? We were dressed in shorts and a t-shirt; you can’t get simpler than that. That night we confided in our cab driver.

Why does everyone stare at us everywhere we go? we said.

Jessica and I sounded like two annoying children whining about the kids at school. Our taxi driver laughed at our ignorance.

“They’re trying to classify you” he said.

“Classify?”

“Yes, they’re trying to figure out if you’re one of them”

“Well duh, of course we’re one of them; we’re all black”

“Well yes, but in South Africa, there’s certain classifications. They’re probably trying to figure out your status. Are you wealthy or poor? Coloured or Black?”

IMG_4041.JPG

That night, on our long cab ride to dinner, we received the lesson of our lives on classification in South Africa. Our driver talked to us about the racial hierarchy in South Africa and how people try to distinguish themselves in many ways. This ultimately perpetuated the system of segregation and separation which was the goal of Apartheid. It was so important for me to make my way to the Apartheid museum because I wanted to learn more.

 

IMG_4025.JPG

Apartheid is a system of segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party who governed South Africa from 1948-1994. It was a blatant act of racism forcing blacks (non-whites), who made up the majority of the country to be separated from whites.

IMG_4027IMG_4028.JPG

At the Apartheid Museum, I learned about the history of Apartheid and its detrimental effects on South Africa. Upon walking into the museum, there are two entrances. One that says White’s Only and another that says Coloreds Only. This was standard protocol for South Africans during Apartheid. As you walk through the doors according to your classification, you enter a gloomy room filled with identification cards of inhabitants of South Africa. The Population Regristration Act of 1950 required South Africans to carry these cards with them at all times. These National ID cards, classified people according to their race which included:

  • Black
  • White
  • Coulored (Mixed Race)
  • Asian/Indian

In some instances, parents could be separated from their children, because of the differing and rigid classifications of race.

IMG_4032.JPG

IMG_4031.JPG

Race Classification Apartheid Museum

Apartheid was a blatant act of racism forcing non-blacks, who made up the majority of the country to be separated from whites. They were also treated as second class citizens, forced to endure oppression, unemployment, and poor living conditions. By 1950, the government had banned marriages between whites and people of other races, and prohibited sexual relations between black and white South Africans.

IMG_4040 IMG_4046

I think what bothers me the most about this system, is the plunder and paternalism of foreign European nations coming to Africa. This type of entitlement can still be sensed when visiting today. It’s very unfortunate to see African people oppressed by some of the Europeans who live there. Our cab driver told us a story about a white teenager no older than 17, who slapped him in the face and there was nothing he could do about it. To know that our cab driver felt so helpless when it came to being protected by the government and legal system was disheartening.

So what kind of progress has been made? Well South Africa is known as the Rainbow nation. People from all over the world flock to South Africa to live, study and vacation. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world and has a melting pot of people. In 1994, the first black president of Africa was nominated into office. His name was Nelson Mandela and he changed the face of the political landscape and his presidency promoted inclusion and change towards a bright future. Today, South Africans co-exist, despite the discrepancies in class and race, however a lot of progress and change still needs to be made.

Nelson Mandela

 

Weekends By Ky: Harlem

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Harlem. Harlem is so rich with history and I knew my boyfriend’s neighborhood was in the heart of it. I googled “Things to Do in Harlem” and discovered that Harlem was founded by the Dutch, hence it’s name, which is also a municipality in The Netherlands, (Haarlem). Harlem is also the birthplace of the Renaissance, which was historically important for African Americans in America. A time of rebirth for our people to be great, artistically and professionally; many of the great black minds in history resided in Harlem. Fortunately for me, I was in the midst of it all. I decided to take Chase, the dog, for a walk around the neighborhood. We started at the Schomburg and walked up the block to Strivers Row. I could just imagine all those aristocratic blacks doing great things in an adverse America. I saw a sign that said “Private Road-Walk Your Horses” I literally stepped back into time and it felt as if I discovered unforeseen treasures. Did Harlem natives notice how historically rich their neighborhood was? I plan on exploring more of Harlem’s rich history in the near future.

IMG_9295 IMG_9285IMG_9300 IMG_9302 IMG_9293IMG_9301 IMG_8692

Oh Paris, how I love thee!

Excuse my french but i’m in France- Kanye West

Paris is everything and more, Ahhhh! I could barely contain my excitement. Once we got off the Eurostar we needed to catch the 1 train going to Louvre-Rivoli, which meant we had to transfer trains with all our bags (the horror). Anyway, the train ride from Gare Du Nord wasn’t that bad and once we got out of the station, our hotel was literally one block away.

Kydee Williams Kydee williamsI will never forget that feeling of walking onto the streets of Paris. It was absolutely stunning and everything I’d ever dreamed of. We got dressed in our “Paris outfits” and headed across the street to the Louvre.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsThe Louvre was absolutely breathtaking and I don’t believe I have the words that will do this museum any justice. It’s so vast and beautiful.

Kydee Williams

Kydee Williams

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams Kydee WilliamsKydee WilliamsWe headed back to the hotel to get our jackets because it was getting chilly and took the metro to Champs Elysees. This boulevard was beautiful. Decked in striking lights, lively people and amazing shops, I was so excited to finally be on the avenue that I learned about for years in French class.

Kydee Williams Kydee Williams

IMG_3342

IMG_2090Aux Champs Elysee was the hymn my French teacher would sing to us and I couldn’t get it out of my head. You know when you make up your own words to a song because you have no idea what the artist is saying? Well I did that for years and recently googled the actual lyrics…what kind of song was this?

Aux Champs Elysees

Aux Champs Elysees

Y a d’la cocaine

Des prostituees

Et de l’herorine a bon marche

Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux champs elysees

Kydee WilliamsWe found a cute restaurant and experienced french food at its best. I had Smoked Salmon Pasta which was tres magnifique. We finally got to the end of the Champs Elysees and encountered L’Arc De Triomphe. It was beautiful but under construction. All roads lead to the arc, it seemed.

IMG_2078 IMG_2747Champs Elysee was “the spot” and we found ourselves back there later that night, when we went to Club 79. To make a long and pathetic story short, we couldn’t get in. There were over 200 people waiting outside and we were four of them. We tried to pull our “But we’re American” stunt but they were not having it.

IMG_2101

Kydee WilliamsKy Tip: When going out, be on time. Other countries don’t operate like we do in the States. It’s best to be the first one at the club rather than the ones trying to get in. Try to be out of your hotel at 8PM the latest

I could care less about being in a club, I was in Paris and in complete awe by how edgy and cool everyone is. Cigarettes, wild hair, red lips and a black ensemble seemed to be the style. Parisienne style was so me! That night we took a cab home and sang “Drunk in Love” as we drove along the Seine River. Oh, What a night!

Kydee Williams