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South Africa by daylight

Learning about Apartheid in Cape Town, plus a trip to the Winelands

overcast 18 °F
View A Rough Outline of our Trip on daveliz's travel map.

View of downtown Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain. South Africa's landscape is full of beautiful mountains, valleys, oceanfronts and cities.

View of downtown Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain. South Africa's landscape is full of beautiful mountains, valleys, oceanfronts and cities.

Compared to most of Asia, South Africa is remarkably calm with a western feel, which initially led us to believe the country has made great strides since Apartheid ended 15 years ago. Cape Town was our first stop.

We enjoyed lunchtime music from an acapella group at the Victoria and Alfred waterfront in Cape Town.

We enjoyed lunchtime music from an acapella group at the Victoria and Alfred waterfront in Cape Town.

A monument of South Africa's Nobel Peace prize winners; William De Klerk, Bishop Desomond TuTu, Albert Luthuli, and Nelson Mandela. It is a source of tremendous pride that the country achieved freedom for all its people without civil war.

A monument of South Africa's Nobel Peace prize winners; William De Klerk, Bishop Desomond TuTu, Albert Luthuli, and Nelson Mandela. It is a source of tremendous pride that the country achieved freedom for all its people without civil war.

Unfortunately, behind the calm exterior is a sad history of oppression that has led to many current problems. For more than three decades the white South African government had a systematic plan, Apartheid (literally "apart system"), to separate its people based on race with an effort to ensure white superiority. Laws separated white, black, Indian and colored (the term used for mixed race in South Africa) neighborhoods. Non-whites were given an inferior education, stripped of all political freedoms and were forced to abide travel restrictions. As we traveled through South Africa we noticed it is still divided by race on many levels.

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There is a major contrast between rich and poor neighborhoods. It is common to see a complex of McMansions just down the street from a crowded township of small government built homes or tin shacks. We have not seen many middle class neighborhoods.

A few other big issues we've observed:

- Industry and jobs are scarce and the poverty rate is staggering. While in Cape Town we met many educated non-whites with jobs working hard to make a living, this isn't the case through out the country.

- Many people are wary of the current government under Jacob Zuma, a former ANC anti-Apartheid leader with minimal education and a police record.

- The government is aiming to provide every citizen with a home, but production is behind and infrastructure can't support all of the houses. In our opinion everyone would be better served if the government created jobs.

- Education is mandatory, but visibly not enforced or encouraged by many parents.

- One in four people are infected with HIV. Grants are given to people who have the disease for medications, but many use it to buy food. We're told many people are so desperate they try to get HIV so they can get the government money. Clearly the system is broken.

- Violent crime is on the rise. As a result, we've been warned to travel by daylight. We haven't witnessed anything and think there is a bit of paranoia, but we are following the wisdom of locals and stay in at night.

- Although many white people who fought for equal rights remain optimistic about the future of South Africa, many feel alienated by the current governments focus on black rights rather than equal rights.

ROBBEN ISLAND

Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were incarcerated for decades. The conditions were dire, but the island became known as "The University" because Mandela and other leaders were able to educate younger prisoners about their ideas for a non-racial, free and democratic South Africa. Mandela also secretly wrote most of his auto-biography, "Long Walk to Freedom," while in jail. It is a must read! His struggle to educate himself, make a living, and then fight for freedom is inspiring. The sense we have is that Mandela's message is at risk of being lost due to the difficulty people have to rise out of poverty.

Nelson Mandela's cell. He served most of his 27 years here.

Nelson Mandela's cell. He served most of his 27 years here.

Mandela's prison garden where he hid a manuscript of his auto-biography. It was discovered a few weeks later when guards built the wall. Luckily, Mandela gave another copy to a prisoner who smuggled it out in his shoes and released it to the public sharing much information about the poor treatment of blacks.

Mandela's prison garden where he hid a manuscript of his auto-biography. It was discovered a few weeks later when guards built the wall. Luckily, Mandela gave another copy to a prisoner who smuggled it out in his shoes and released it to the public sharing much information about the poor treatment of blacks.

Our Robben Island tour guide was a political prisoner on the Island for five years until all prisoners were let free.

Our Robben Island tour guide was a political prisoner on the Island for five years until all prisoners were let free.

Picture of the prisoners leaving Robben Island after a deal to free political prisoners was negotiated by Mandela (along with his political party, the African National Congress - ANC) and the Apartheid government.

Picture of the prisoners leaving Robben Island after a deal to free political prisoners was negotiated by Mandela (along with his political party, the African National Congress - ANC) and the Apartheid government.

The limestone quarry where the prisoners did hard labor was also where most of the political debates and discussions occurred among prisoners. The limestone was so bright and the dust was so thick that most prisoners have eye and lung damage from being in this environment.

The limestone quarry where the prisoners did hard labor was also where most of the political debates and discussions occurred among prisoners. The limestone was so bright and the dust was so thick that most prisoners have eye and lung damage from being in this environment.

DISTRICT SIX MUSEUM

District Six is a neighborhood in Cape Town that was forcefully "resettled" under one of the worst of the Apartheid laws, the Group Areas Act. Every non-white by law had to carry a passbook with their racial identity and they were assigned rights based on the information. The Group Areas Act permitted authorities to move black, Indian and colored people from their home into areas away from city and business centers. Former residents of District Six now lead powerful tours at the museum.

People wrote in their family name on the map where they once lived before being forcefully removed from District Six. Some of the land is now being returned to the people.

People wrote in their family name on the map where they once lived before being forcefully removed from District Six. Some of the land is now being returned to the people.

Typical sign during Apartheid.

Typical sign during Apartheid.

JEWISH MUSEUM

At the Jewish Museum in Cape Town we learned many South African Jews emigrated from Europe, mostly from Lithuania, for religious freedom and business opportunities. In fact, Johannesburg was largely built by Jews when gold and diamonds were discovered nearby. Many moved from Cape Town to the central part of the country. The museum talked about their role during the Apartheid era. Jews were often outspoken anti-apartheid supporters as they could relate to the suffering as Jews have history of being oppressed. After university, Nelson Mandela was hired into a Jewish law firm. A black man hired into a white law firm was unheard of in those days. Also, his head defense lawyer throughout the treason trials was Jewish. This gave us an unexpected and welcome sense of pride and connection to South Africa.

However, today many Jews fall into a category with many other white South Africans who are moving to other countries for better job and education opportunities. We've been told the SA government puts pressure on businesses to employ a larger percentage of non-whites and to pay them higher wages regardless of experience. This inequality has driven many away from their homeland.

BO KAAP

Colorful Bo Kaap is a Muslim neighborhood that is full of restaurants, shops and homes. South Africa has a large Muslim population that also faced Apartheid.

Colorful Bo Kaap is a Muslim neighborhood that is full of restaurants, shops and homes. South Africa has a large Muslim population that also faced Apartheid.

WORLD CUP SOCCER STADIUM

We constantly hear discussions of "2010", the year the World Cup comes to South Africa. Locals hope it will bring positive attention to the country, as well as much needed revenue.

The Cape Town stadium under construction. There are ten stadiums throughout the country being built or renovated for the cup. Currently many workers are on strike trying to get more money out of the deal.

The Cape Town stadium under construction. There are ten stadiums throughout the country being built or renovated for the cup. Currently many workers are on strike trying to get more money out of the deal.

TABLE MOUNTAIN

Table Mountain is the most well known landmark in Cape Town, getting its name from the cloud that often lies over the flat topped mountain like a table cloth.

Elizabeth hiking up Table Mountain.

Elizabeth hiking up Table Mountain.

A view of the southern Cape from Table Mountain.

A view of the southern Cape from Table Mountain.

South Africans love their wine (a good thing, because the local beer is not very good.) Just under an hour from Capetown lies the winelands in valleys beneath the area's mountains. We visited the wine towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.

STELLENBOSCH

View from Ernie Ells winery in Stellenbosch.

View from Ernie Ells winery in Stellenbosch.

FRANSCHHOEK

We met a lovely couple, Zaida and Isi, from Barcelona, Spain. They were wrapping up an 11 month cycling adventure through all of Africa. Their stories were fascinating. Now they are off to Asia to travel by bike there. We wish them luck ; - )

We met a lovely couple, Zaida and Isi, from Barcelona, Spain. They were wrapping up an 11 month cycling adventure through all of Africa. Their stories were fascinating. Now they are off to Asia to travel by bike there. We wish them luck ; - )

PAARL

Shiraz fresh from the tank at Fairview winery in Paarl.

Shiraz fresh from the tank at Fairview winery in Paarl.

Fairview winery is known for its fresh goat cheese from its mascot.

Fairview winery is known for its fresh goat cheese from its mascot.

Wrapping our hands around the magnitude of Apartheid and its affects has been a challenge, but we made it our mission during a three week drive around the country to educate ourselves by talking to locals of all races to learn more. Soon we'll share some of our stories.

We just hope this country can turn things around so its citizens can truly enjoy the freedoms they now possess!

- Dave & Elizabeth

* A little side note....while you are all enjoying summer, we have gotten our dose of winter here in South Africa where they don't believe in heat. It has been mostly cold and rainy, especially for two kids whose blood thinned in Asia and only have summer clothes with an added fleece, scarf and hat : - ( We know. The violins are playing!

Posted by daveliz 05:35 Archived in South Africa

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