MAP Part 1: Those Silly Dutch-like Folks

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South Africa is certainly a diamond not without a few rough edges.  If there’s anything I can take as a preliminary observation, it’s this: Apartheid drove a deep wound into this country, one that seems to have healed but still festers every so often.

Our project sponsors grew up in the shadow of this condoned racism, a philosophy that was just as unjust and brutal as Nazism but far less publicized, it seems.  Who knows — maybe I heard less as a child because I grew up in a country whose sole partnership with a majority of the continent in which South Africa resides is to throw a bunch of rice and aid at it and shut the door on the way out.  But when your sponsor raises a clenched fist to the security guards on the way out the gate and offers a word of solidarity, you can’t help but pay attention to his words:

“People don’t understand.  Just because Apartheid is dead does not mean the struggle does not continue.  Politically, we are equal; economically and socially…well, my friend, the fight continues.”

And it’s all too obvious.  The pungent stench of silent segregation avoids the nostrils of only the most naive here, and I can only pretend to understand their plight.  A lot has been made of the fact that I’m the only white member of my team; nevertheless, when we go out to dinner or to a club it’s clear that we’re not from ’round these parts simply because it’s apparently an anomaly to have a white, a black, two Hispanics, and two Chinese students sitting around the same table breaking bread.

At times, I have to repress my sadness for witnessing such opacity, and I do wonder how much longer I can keep it up before holing myself up in an apartment for a weekend and reflecting.  If only I had the luxury of time to do just that.

Would people understand?  I’d hope so.

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2 Responses to MAP Part 1: Those Silly Dutch-like Folks

  1. JulyDream says:

    Wow! Sounds like an incredible experience. Embrace it. If you must reflect, make time, though I know it won’t be as much as you’d like. 🙂

  2. […] if you were to tell me that, in the course of those three years, I would wax philosophical while in South Africa, reaffirm my purpose while developing a farmers cooperative in Jamaica, and move to Detroit — […]

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