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WELCOME HOME

WELCOME HOME ….Go visit your your grandmother, she has been waiting to see you.  These are the words an African man shared with me in the elevator when he asked did I just arrive.

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South Africa Day 3-University of Johannesburg 7/17

University of Johannesburg—I am unapologetically African!

Our morning started with a trip to the University of Johannesburg. There we were met by students from NYU. During this joint session we were provided a lecture by Dr. Adekeye Adebajo.  According to Dr. Abebajo, in South African black people make up 80% of the population in comparison to the 12% in the US, yet despite being the majority change is slow to come.  Dr. Adebajo provided an overview of the post Apartheid progress South Africans continues to with in 2017. His lecture highlighted his thoughts on what needs to be done in order to further advance economic, social and political improvements for South Africans. Additionally, he briefly discussed the comparison of the anti-apartheid movement and America’s modern civil rights struggle.

My reflections will be summaries of various quotes from today.

  1. “70% of the faculty at SA universities are white and mostly male”, hence no role models for those students of color.
  2. “symbols of apartheid still blanket the country’. Removal of statutes are only a metaphorical fall of racism.
  3. “how can a colonizer donate land that was never theirs to begin with?”

Four key ways to address the issue of ensuring the knowledge of the struggle are not forgotten and that advancement occurs.

  1. Research is crucial on diverse topics. Most give the excuse that research doesn’t exist, but it does and where it doesn’t create the research.
  2. Teaching is crucial. Stop trying to introduce multiculturalism into a European based curriculum. Roll out PAN African curriculum. Do not try to replace the classics, but put a PAN African focus at the center.
  3.  You need to have a public dialog and outreach efforts.
  4. Strategic partnership with those on the diaspora of Africa. We need to transform SA ivy tower to ebony towers.

Follow up assignments to be utilized for classroom discussion on Social Change:

  1. Discuss President Ronald Reagan’s position on the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. What was his position and do you agree with his decision? Do you think Congress was correct? What was the impactful of this Act?
  2. Discuss President Obama’s foreign policy on Africa. What did he do to support the African continent in its development? How did his efforts compare to his predecessor George W. Bush?
  3. What are the similarities between the USA and South Africa in economic, social, and political issues in what is considered a ‘post-racial’ era.
  4. The Africans A Triple Heritage Series (1-9). Be prepared to discuss in class.

7/16 Apartheid Museum

“There is dignity in adversity”

What can I say? I had the honor and privilege of visiting the Apartheid Museum today. Ironically, I made it here before I made it to the African American Museum in DC.  I must get to DC when I get home.

Words can not do justice to my feelings. I was overwhelmed with pride regarding how hard my people will fight for social justice and human rights. The museum made me question, how much has the US really changed since the civil rights era? With the new wave of overt racism in our country, it appears to me as it we have been set back 50 years if not more. How much more can we endure but more importantly how much more can we bare, before we return to legalized Jim Crow? Hmmm.. the US is smart enough to never legalize ‘Jim Crow’ as we know it in the past, because it has the current assurance that social mores now do the work that the laws no longer need to do.

The museum did more than just remind me of the strength of my people, it reinforced how I must not be just a good leader, but a great leader. I must be a leader in which when people think of me they think honor, respect, dignity, confidence, educated, articulate, strong, regal, fair, forward thinking, global, class, and faith influenced. It’s one thing to be in a position of power, but another not to use that position to empower those who look up to you or need your assistance.  In sum, being better is about doing better.

My reflections will be summaries of various quotes from today.

Leadership

“One of the temptations of a leader is that he may use his powerful position to settle scores with his distractors, marginalize them and in certain cases get rid of them and surround himself with yes-man and yes-women. A leader must keep the focus together but you cant do that unless you allow dissent. People should even be able to criticize the leader without fear of favour”..Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

   Motivation to Fight

“The white man is the Master of South Africa, and the white man form the nature of his origins, from the very nature of his birth, and from the very nature of his guardianship will remain master in South Africa”…House of Assembly Debate 15/3/50 Col.3610

Follow up assignments to be utilized for classroom discussion on Social Change:

  1. Compare and contrast South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement to the Civil rights movement in the US.  Please discuss legislation and social issues of each movement, identified three (3) key leaders of each movement and their roles, what was the strategy utilized to advance the movement.  Would that strategy work today, why or why not, and what would is needed today in order to advance the movement.
  2. How has each country advanced since the movement? How have things remained the same?
  3. What does this mean for the future of each country? Have they hit the ‘glass ceiling’ for advancement? What is the likelihood of continued advancements in the current state of each country?

 

South Africa Day 1-Hector Pieterson Musuem (7/15)

7/15 Hector Pieterson

After leaving Tehobo Trust we ventured to the Hector Pieterson Museum. Hector Pieterson was an icon in the 1976 Soweto uprising. Like so many other revolutionaries he died too young. Killed at the age of 12 by a bullet directly fired by police, he was protesting the schools teaching of the Afrikaans language. Ironically tomorrow [June 16th] will be the 41st anniversary of his death.  I was very grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to visit this museum.  I would love to go back with a little more time. Because of his age at death, I immediately began to think of the Emmitt Till story and how two mothers had to bury their sons as an unofficial sacrifice to cause they did not choose to lead.   I plan to utilize this experience to educate my nieces and nephews on the fact that Hector Pieterson died fighting for his education and as such, they have a duty to value theirs! Additional I think this experience would be great discussion and curriculum addendum for my class at PENN on Social Change. My reflections will be summaries of various quotes I learned from today.

Because of his age at death, I immediately began to think of the Emmitt Till story and how two mothers had to bury their sons as a sacrifice to a cause they did not choose to lead.   I plan to utilize this experience to educate my nieces and nephews on the fact that Hector Pieterson died fighting for his education and as such, they have a duty to value theirs! Additional, I think this experience would be great discussion and curriculum addendum for my class at PENN on Social Change (see assignments below).

My reflections will be summaries of various quotes from today.

  1. “Black consciousness emphasized psychological liberation from the degrading attitude implicit in apartheid. It needs to instill the idea of self-determination to restore feelings of pride and dignity to blacks after centuries of racist oppression. It is an attitude of mind and a way of life. It is the realization that the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed”.  The Rise of the Black Conscious, Bantu Stephen Biko.
  2. “It doesn’t take for you to care about freedom until you lose your own”.

 

Follow up assignments to be utilized for classroom discussion on Social Change:

Review and discuss the Bantu Education Act 1953.  Please compare it to US educational policies during that time. Please include implications for future educational policy development the US.

Review and discuss the United Nations Security Council June 23, 1976, response to the Soweto Uprising. Please discuss the response of the US.

In the movie Cry Freedom (1987) Denzel Washington plays Stephen Biko. Watch the movie and prepare a 5-7 page reflection paper.

 

South Africa Day 1: Tehobo Trust (7/15)

7/15/17 -TEHOBO TRUST

Our day started at 07:30hrs in order to venture to Tehobo Trust. We were joined by the students from the University of Johannesburg, Community Engagement Group. All of the volunteers worked with various student (‘learners’) groups. Some of the groups assisted the learners with preparing a skit, chorus performance, dance, and dramatic speeches.  The Rutgers team also became apart of the performance by leading a discussion on why education is important to each of us. The learners were also provided an opportunity to ask us questions. One question I found most stimulating was: “What do the schools in the US teach about African history”?. hmmm.. let that sit with you for a minute. I had no problems with taking this questions and of course, I was honest in my response.    I also found it sad to learn that many students don’t go to school because their families can not afford to pay the annual students fees of  R100($8.00 US). So family-you know I expect you all to donate and send a few kids to school. (see link below). before I close, I just want to highlight some quotes from today as my reflection:

  1. The 7 Bs–“Books before boys, because boys bring babies”
  2. “You need to inspire before you expire”
  3. “If you don’t know want you want to become then you become what you don’t want”
  4. “Work will be when wishes won’t”
  5. “Don’t just give of your time but give of your heart”

LINKS:

Teboho Trust Featured on ABC NIGHTLINE

Watch it here: http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/la-lawyer-brings-hope-learning-soweto-aids-orphans-19583362

South Africa Travel Activities 7/13-14/17

Since having arrived in South Africa on Friday, June 14th I have dreaded starting my blog entries. Not because I don’t like to write but because I didn’t think words could do my feelings justice. Here we go-

7/13-7/14

Overall the travel was without major incident. The one exception would be my experience with TSA and my luggage. The agent gave me a hard time about my carry on being 4 lbs overweight, despite the fact that I witness others with carry-ons that appeared overweight and they also had multiple bags. Luckily he was dealing with a quick thinking traveler. I immediately pulled out my emergency duffle bag I use to bring back gifts and began shifting the weight. After a few minutes of this delay, I was on my way.

7/14: Arrived in South Africa safely. (thanks Emirates for damaging my luggage)! Navigating a new city at night very tired and drained was challenging. I had to purchase the South African version of a “Metro card” and take the train to Sandton.  This was approximately a 20-minute ride into town. Once I arrived at my stop, then the real fun began of getting to the hotel. Did I mention the hotel was a 7-minute walk from the train stop but it took an hour to get there? Another story for another time… Hotel check-in was uneventfully and in the words of Etta James -“AT LAST” I could finally say without hesitation- I AM HERE!  The celebration was short lived due to the fact that I only had an hour to get ready because we had an INDABA (team gathering/meeting) scheduled so again time wasn’t on my side. After the INDABA it was lights out as the adventures are scheduled to start at 08:00hrs and I need to be well-rested to keep up with these young ladies, who, by the way, have been amazing to this old’r young lady-their parent raised some beautiful women.

Reflection: I did it (w/the theme music to ROCKY playing in my head), I did it, I made it to South Africa! GOD is Good.