Category Archives: Cape Town Culture

Cape Town!

Hey y’all!

I can’t believe that I’m back in Port Elizabeth and nearing the end of my South African adventure. A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Cape Town, one of SA’s most iconic and historic cities. Since I now have a chance to write about it, here are a few highlights from the trip!

A coastal introduction. Cape Town has been a harbor and refuge for traders, travelers, and refugees alike for hundreds of years. While still fully functional as a home for travel and freight vessels, the Victoria and Albert Waterfront (named after the English queen and her son) is a playground for children and adults alike. Modern restaurants boasting flavors from all around the world are nestled among markets filled with traditional African wares and art. It’s not hard to stumble across a band playing in the street a truly rainbow blend of influences from around the world. Hopping on a sailboat our first evening gave us a warm welcome to this vibrant city.

A taste of the city. I have never felt more at home in Africa than when I was surrounded by the sights and smells of the V&A Food Market. Dozens of vendors with artisanal and gourmet foods from around the world set up shop here every day, and deciding which to put on your plate can be quite difficult. I sampled a smattering of foods from around the world, most notably the Kubu Kebab (ostrich, crocodile, warthog, and zebra) and ended up with a jar of local fynbos honey to take home with me! We Nashvillians love our food, and it seems that CapeTonians feel the same. A new point of view. Table Mountain and neighboring Lion’s Head are the backbone of Cape Town and have remained its silent guardians for thousands of years. Table Mountain, named so for its huge flat ridge is home to a variety of wildlife and a state-of-the art cable car service. It was a quick trip up, but unfortunately the entire mountain was blanketed in a stubborn cloud. Not to be discouraged, we made the quick-yet-challenging 45 minute hike up Lion’s Head for a truly breathtaking view. Sea, city, and mountain stretching out for as far as the eye could see. A picnic lunch at the top made it a perfect afternoon.

A lesson in liberty. No trip to Cape Town would be complete without a visit to Robben Island, home to many prisoners and exiles, most notably Nelson Mandela for eighteen out of his twenty-seven years of imprisonment during apartheid. Although I was prepared to face some uncomfortable facts about apartheid, I was still amazed at how much I didn’t know—for example, because I’m half Caribbean, I would have been classified as “colored” and denied rights such as the freedom of movement, labor rights, and expression. I also had no idea that our tour of the island would be led by a former prisoner of Robben Island—a man who was jailed for five years at just the age of eighteen. Hearing his story and more importantly the grace in which he addressed his struggles and his former captors was nothing short of inspiring. It was the hearts of men and women like these that were able to soften and break the chains of apartheid, and it’s those kinds of hearts we need to ensure that equality is the goal we continue to work to, personally and politically.

 A little something different. Cape Town is filled with variety, so much of which I was able to experience in a short time. Walking through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens let us experience a kingdom of flora unique to this part of the world (while still giving a home to some familiar plants like lavender and jasmine). At the World of Birds Sanctuary, we saw everything from eagles to emus with a few guest animals like tortoises and monkeys. In the Bo Kapp neighborhood, our walking tour led us past rows and rows of colorful houses that distinguish this traditionally Muslim area with an artistic flair. And brushing past colorful beaded jewelry and fabrics at Greenmarket Square could have kept my eyes busy for hours. I feel like I could have spent weeks in this city and not seen everything there was to it. There are always surprises around every corner, which is always welcome by me!

IMG_4615I am missing Cape Town already but am so happy to be back at Emzomncane teaching my favorite children and coaching with a fabulous new group of UTS volunteers. Stay posted for more updates over these last few weeks!

My Year in South Africa

In less than a week I will be home! For the past year, the idea of coming home has been intangibly far in the future. Now, I am scrambling to prepare for my three-week-visit to the States. The end of the year has given me reason to reflect about my experience and compare my life now to where I started a year ago.

When I first arrived, I am ashamed to say that I knew very little about South African culture and history. I didn’t know who was president, what “colored” meant in a racial context, which languages where nationally recognized, or how much of colonial history still influences society–I didn’t even know any South Africans. Despite my attempts at self-education, I was completely ignorant of what daily life looked like for South Africans.

Now I am very aware of President Jacob Zuma, the ANC party, and the South African political system. I understand the apartheid imposed racial classification system that still is utilized today. I have experienced the dynamics of eleven national languages coexisting in South Africa. Furthermore, every day I see how British and Dutch colonialism still pervades economic, political, and social structures in Cape Town. I now comprehend that daily life means many different notions to the South Africans I live and work with.

There have been many more insights that I have obtained about South Africa, North America, and the international community from my trip. However, much of my insights have been reflections on past and current affairs. Therefore, it was fitting that I was recently able to attend an event series called Open Book Festival. The festival was designed for authors of recent publications to speak about their work. Several of the dialogues I was able to attend did well to address current and past international affairs, but they also expanded on how those events will impact future developments.

Along with my reflections on South Africa, my person reflections lead me to believe that very little can be understood about a place without spending significant and intentional time living there. In considering how much I have learned from when I started my year, I realize that while I have gained many insights, there are still many things that are unknown to me about South Africa. People also experience a place in a variety of ways, many of which through narrow and brief experiences. Sometimes as outsiders we see more clearly, but very often more happens than what an outsider can perceive. For now, I will look forward to what discoveries are to come in my next encounters in South Africa.

Winter Excursions

Hail in Bo-kaap

Hail in Bo-kaap

I have finally surrendered to Cape Town winter and accepted that it is here. After going to a Cape Malay cooking class, I walked out of my teacher’s house in Bo-kaap to find a massive hail storm–an unusual event for Cape Town. The cooking class I attended is located in a Cape Malay woman’s house, where she teaches tradition recipes. In two classes, I learned how to make chicken curry, roti, samosas, chili bites, and swiss cake rolls.

As you can see in the picture above, the Bo-kaap community is composed of rows of brightly colored houses. The historical Cape Malay architecture remains along with many Cape Malay residents as well. Bo-kaap is one of the few areas where oppressed people where not forcibly removed during apartheid.

According to the Iziko Slave Lodge in Cape Town, many of the Cape Malay people came to Cape Town because they were human trafficked through the slave trade industry. Later, many of the women became indentured servants and worked as domestic laborers. Then apartheid government oppressed Cape Malay people, along with many others, through legislation, which was finally abolished in 1994 with the first democratic election in South African. However, like many formerly oppressed communities, many of the Cape Malay peoples’ rights remain socially and economically neglected and abused.

As the writers of the South African constitution were composing the Bill of Rights, they recognized that not all citizens would immediately have their rights protected. The philosophy they adopted is called progressive realization of rights, which is a gradual reconciliation of past conflict to future equality. There are so many systemic flaws in South African government and social institutions that it would be impossible to resolve all human rights issues in 1994, 2004, or anytime in the near future, realistically. Therefore, rights are categorized in a sort of hierarchy to determine which rights have to be addressed the most urgently. The SAHRC prioritizes children’s rights and other vulnerable groups such as older persons, women, detained persons and disabled persons. However, different human rights violations correspond to the mandates of individual regulatory bodies.

Unfortunately, just because rights are categorized in certain ways, does not mean they are manifested in the intended fashion. For instance, education is not a right that is considered under progressive realization. However, while listening to a lecture sponsored by Equal Education and given from the first Constitutional Court Chief Justice, Kate O’Regan, I learned that many issues educations issues should be immediately realized, but are not. A lack of resources, limited funding, and corruption in government departments create violations of educational rights even in the new South Africa.

While Ms. O’Regan worked intensively for years in building South Africa’s Constitutional Court, she surprised me in her perspective about the role of the court system. She stated that South Africans are often too reliant on the court, especially when other branches of government fail and the courts cannot turn people away (in the same fashion at least). Ms. O’Regan encouraged grass root movements of people first understanding their rights, next recognizing when their rights are violated, and then seeking alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before litigation. Listening to Ms. O’Regan was encouraging to me as a proponent of ADR, but even more insightful was her description of when court cases are appropriate for litigation. She clarified that when cases can represent a class of people or answer questions that are quantitative rather than qualitative, then traditional court litigation is suitable.

Even though winter weather has slowed me down, I’m still finding time to explore Cape Town through cuisine and educational events.  The weather has also fostered my creativity in planning my time since I am forced to spend much of it indoors. Here’s to more cooking classes and bookstore human right events!

Thoughts on Human Dignity

Recently, I expressed my dismay at a bathroom that charged me one rand (ten cents in the US) to enter it. I asked an acquaintance with me, “What’s the point of charging R1?” She answered that it was to keep homeless people out of the bathroom. I felt rage and horror at the establishment’s alleged discrimination against homeless people. However, my friend disagreed with me, arguing that the discrimination was not unfounded.

To give a context: my acquaintance is a South African living in the township in Cape Town that has been identified by a media statement of the SAHRC as a crisis area in regards to toilet sanitation. For 6 weeks toilet workers in the area have been on strike because of low wages. The residents attack city workers who try to clean it in the meantime. The protest is now very political and largely blames apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for leaving Black South Africans in poverty today and the DA (the political part in power in the Western Cape) for not making more substantial changes.

While this person is not directly affected by the sanitation issue in the area she lives in, I was still shocked that my acquaintance was so inhospitable to the thought of sharing toilets with homeless people. Sure there are other issues to consider, but at the end of the day, homeless people deserve the same amount of dignity as anyone else.

What are your thoughts?

Local Community Engagement Beyond the Workplace

When planning my year in South Africa, one of my highest priorities was to connect with locals outside of work. While my internship works directly with the local community, I wanted to engage with the local community at a deeper level, outside of my placement. However, I knew this would be difficult since I don’t own a car and would be restricted to public transportation and cabs, I would be living with a community of mostly Americans (which is comfortable and familiar), and I knew no South Africans before I arrived.

Now here I am, six months later and halfway through my stay. I have just moved in with three South Africans and one Columbian, I commute to work on the train from my neighborhood (Observatory), and am fortunate enough to have several South African friends. While it was easy, at first, to spend my time with the other Americans/foreigners, I now feel just as comfortable with my South African friends.

Apart from developing relationships with South African friends, I have also been able to maintain relationships with my former co-workers at TSiBA. My manager at TSiBA, said that his wife was asking about me and wanted to see if I could come stay the weekend with their family. I enthusiastically accepted and went for a weekend stay with the Olivers and their three daughters. When I arrived to their house, they had a women’s group from their church over. They women cackled at my attempts to cut a cucumber quickly, in small pieces. They called the large, lopsided slices “international cuts.” The next morning we went to a service at the Oliver’s church. I ended up sitting beside a male cousin of the Olivers and nearly caused a scandal. It seems as though genders are usually fairly separate and my proximity to a single man my age lead to tons of gossip in Afrikaans (most of which was fairly obvious to understand, much to their disbelief). When the sermon started I was surprised at first. On the way home I told my manager that I didn’t think I realized that he was the preacher even though the women were calling him pastor the day before.

At the SAHRC, I am just getting to know my new colleagues since I have only been interning for the organization for two months. I find that I am starting to get to know them better and feeling comfortable with my work assignments. My manager, also asked me the other day how my new commute was going from Observatory. I told her that I have a renewed love for trains (which initiated from Harry Potter of course). On my way to work that morning I saw a little league of cricket players in uniforms in the station. They were adorable. Apparently, in winter I will also start to see amusing entrepreneurship ventures. When the weather is cold and rainy, vendors will sell bras and underwear to passengers who are completely soaked when umbrellas blow out. Hopefully things will not get too desperate.

Recent Events

Recently, I have been restless. Living in Cape Town city center without a car confines me to commuting on public transportation and mooching off of friends with cars. Obviously both are quite limiting and leave little in my control. Living here without a car removes the independence and privilege I have taken for granted growing up in the States. My discontent was a strong motivation for me to take some opportunities spending time outside of the city.

The end of summer brings about an urgency to appreciate nature and venture to other recommended outdoor locations and activities. Lately, I have been able to explore Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, Sea Point, and Crystal Pools. Apart from these adventures, I have also been able to attend a Disabilities Expo created by my friend Cathy Arendse.

I planned a mini road trip to Noordhoek Beach, which of course did not happen. Instead, a day later a group of my friends and I ended up on the beach in Fish Hoek. While I still have not made it to Noordhoek, I had a lovely day in a new area with delightful company. After enjoying the sun, we had fish ‘n chips in Kalk Bay before I met up with some family friends visiting Cape Town. I also got the chance to indulge in Kalk Bay’s delicious cuisine when my friend Nicole’s family friend, Tiffany was in town. We ate at an eclectic restaurant called Brass Bell for dinner and relaxed while watching the waves crash against the shore.

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My friend, Will, designed my next extravagant plan which involved taking the cable car up Table Mountain, hiking across the mountain, and down through the Nursery Ravine trail to Kirstenbosch to work merchandise with GreenPop at the Jeremy Loops concert. This plan actually happened, much to my surprise, and it was one of my favorite days here so far. The hike was beautiful and I spotted some of my favorite African animals—dassies! The hike took about four hours; slightly shorter than estimated. Will and I were motivated to make it to the concert in plenty of time to hear Jeremy’s upbeat tunes and mad harmonica skills. We got into the gardens and concert free because we walked to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens through Table Mountain, and we got into the concert free since my friend Will works at GreenPop. Previously, my friends Lauren and Hannah also interned at GreenPop, introducing me to the wonders of “green living” in Cape Town. While I knew GreenPop was a great organization, I had never heard the CEO, Jeremy Loops’ music, and was blown away by his wonderful performance at the concert.

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March seems to be the month for concerts. I also went to a tiny venue in a lounge of a house in Sea Point called Studio 7. It was there that I hear some of the best blues music I have ever come across. Dan Patlansky brought the house down. He was so talented that we later bought tickets in Kirstenbosch to another performance on his tour. We didn’t quite make it to actually hear him play, as most plans go here, but we did make it in time to hear a band that is basically the South African version of Creed. Hilarious. Furthermore, it was a beautiful venue and a lovely way to spend the public holiday, Human Rights Day. The day started through a bold move to rent an automatic car and drive to hike Crystal Pools. While I haven’t driven in six months, I decided that I would probably be to my advantage to forget driving on the right hand side during my left hand side adventure. It was surprisingly much easier than I anticipated. I drove 157km, parallel parked, parked in a tight space, drove into a small garage, filled up the tank of gas, crossed traffic, and drove on the highway without any misfortune finding me or my road trip pals. It gives me hope for more such trips and potentially renting a car for a longer period of time.

Finally, the last significant event I have attended lately was a Disabilities Expo held at CPUT Bellville campus and hosted by an organization called Nicky’s Drive. The purpose of the event was to inform the public about barriers created through physical disabilities and discuss potential solutions. My friend Cathy Arendse was the main organizer of the event, which showcased the founder of Nicky’s Drive, Nicky Abdino. Nicky is a clinical psychologist who was born without arms and with shortened legs. She drives herself anywhere she wants to go. Through fundraising and progress in technology, engineers were able to build a shoulder steering mechanism for Nicky to have independence in mobility. In addition, I was able to met Cathy’s former Fulbright mentors from Vanderbilt who also spoke at the event. The event was so uplifting, insightful, and influential; it made me far more grateful to be able to travel independently with or without a car.

Busy Beginnings at the SAHRC

My work at the Western Cape (WC) providence South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) could not have started any faster. Work at the SAHRC has been fairly hectic[1] so far, causing me significant stress to work quickly and perform at high standards. I couldn’t be happier, though, because I feel that my skills are being fully utilized and challenged. Also, my experiences at the SAHRC have already given me hope that social justice and reconciliation are still happening in South Africa. Furthermore, I am so glad I am working at more than one organization and position. I would not have had as deep of an experience if I had limited myself to only one internship, industry, and organization—no matter which placement it was.

So far, the majority of my work has been in relation to issues within farm dweller communities. In several of the WC’s rural towns, farm workers have recently been conducting strikes to raise awareness of violations of their human and legal rights pertaining to labor, housing, education, policing/justice, social security, and transportation. Unfortunately, many of these strikes have turned violent, often through police-initiated brutality. In relation to farm dweller rights, my work has consisted of:

  • Creating a report on my research of historical and current farm dweller issues, relevant regulatory bodies, related stakeholders, and citing of each reference
  • Meeting with stakeholders including the Department of Agriculture, Women on Farms, PLAAS, LHR, Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc. Attorneys, Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, SPP, Mawubuye LRM, and CSAAWU for a roundtable discussion about the issues surrounding farm dweller communities to map current problems and stakeholder responsibilities.
  • Summarizing the stakeholder meeting in a report to SAHRC headquarters in Jo’burg
  • Writing and editing the stakeholder meeting minutes and contact details to be sent to each participant
  • Visiting de Doorns[2] to assist with complainant interviews

My other responsibilities at the SAHRC include:

  • Visiting Parliament to listen to the SAHRC presentation on Water and Sanitation Findings to the Department of Human Settlements
  • Meeting regularly with the WC staff and legal officers working on farm dwellers’ rights
  • Reading several newspapers daily to identify and file human rights issues for future research
  • Training for the filing and input of new complainants
  • Assisting administrative duties by answering calls and managing complainant intake
  • Logging detailed minutes of my daily work

It is hard to believe that I’ve been working at the SAHRC for less than a month. I am intrigued to see what other issues I will work with later. Thus far, my manager has been very present and communicated openly about the importance of balancing the Commission’s needs with my own personal and professional goals. I am looking forward to see what else I learn through my new placement.

[1] One of South Africans most overused and improperly used words

[2] De Doorns is a rural community past Worcester that has experienced a significant amount of police violence

Ricker Family Vaca, Part One: Cape Town

The Rickers at Victoria Falls
The Rickers at Victoria Falls

My parent’s plane landed at 9pm in Cape Town on Friday, February 8. When they exited the plane, they found me waiting with a box of Butler’s pizza, two soft drinks, a package of ginger cookies, and a hug. My mother chattered excitedly on the way to the hotel, but my father was unfortunately suffering from a sinus infection. When we arrived to the hotel I found heaven: a room of my own! Thus far I have been very fortunate to have a flat that is centrally located, in nice conditions and with fairly normal roommates. However, the wind is so loud that I have to wear ear plugs to sleep. I almost never sleep past 8 am since the sun wakes me up through the blinds. Also, there is no a/c or heat, and I have shared a room most of the time, detracting from the relatively little space and privacy I have (but adding enjoyment since the people I have shared a room with have been nice).  While I have not missed these privileges too much, it was luxurious to have them again for a short time while staying in hotels with my family at the Southern Sun.

For my parent’s first day in Cape Town, we had a tour scheduled for the Cape Point Peninsula. The tour winds through one of the most beautiful drives in the Western Cape and includes mostly outdoor entertainment, so naturally it was raining. We still had a nice time, since the point of our trip was to be together more than it was to tour South Africa.

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Our first stop was in Hout Bay, a town on the coast with a nice harbor and market. We explored the port before going on Drum Beat boat tours to Seal Island. My manager at TSiBA, comes from Hout Bay and knew the owner of Drum Beat tours, Levi Bezuidenhoudt. The Drum Beat took us on a tour around a large rock were heaps of seals bask in the rain or sunshine.

Simons Town was our next stop so we could visit Boulders Beach with the African Penguin colony. It was magical. However, I want to tour the entire Cape Peninsula again since the rain put a damper on the beautiful landscape. After a fairly wet stop a Cape Point for lunch, we headed back towards our final destination: a braai (BBQ) at my manager, my manager’s house with our colleagues and their families.This was one of the best moments of the trip since my family was able to have a local experience while meeting my friends and coworkers.





Each night in Cape Town we ate dinner with a different set of friends, so my parents could better understand what my life is like here. After our tour of Paarl, Franchhoek, and Stellenbosch (the winelands), we had dinner with my friends Rachel, Cathy and William Arendse, and their daughter Kaylee.

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Our final dinner was with my friends Nthabi, Bertin, Ethan, Will, Lusanda, and her husband Issac after a day touring the city. Our dinners were a great way to end the day, because they reminded me how generous, hospitable, and kind South African can be. I am truly lucky to have found such lovely people.                     Ricker Fam in Africa 031 Ricker Fam in Africa 032 Ricker Fam in Africa 033 Ricker Fam in Africa 036


33.33% Capetonian

Four months. It seems so strange that I have been away from the States for this long. Four months also marks my end of TSiBA, my start at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), and my family’s visit to South Africa. My first placement has gone by better than I could have hoped for, but I am glad it is not the end of my experiences here. I still need more time and a change of industry to learn more about South African culture, society, history, and future growth.

My team at the Ignition Centre has been like a family. We collaborate closely and genuinely care about each other. The IC has been one of the most positive forces in my South African experience thus far. The office’s humor and creativity has encouraged me to think about entrepreneurship in a more collaborative mentality. My conversations with my colleagues have revealed to me the ways in which South Africans identify and seek to improve local and national social issues.

The largest differences I have seen in South African and western philosophies of social justice are each culture’s perception of poverty. While many Americans’ measurement of poverty is shifting, charity overwhelmingly is used improperly in place of justice due to a belief that poverty is a lack of material wealth. While people in poverty often lack material necessities, many South Africans I work with view poverty as a lack of dignity. This is demonstrative through the aphorism posted on the wall of the Ignition Centre stating “You may be broke, but you are not poor.” Several of my coworkers live in the townships that appear shocking destitute to many Americans—and sometimes they choose to live there. The communities are their homes and the ekasi (the word for township in Xhosa) culture makes up part of the community members’ identity. While living conditions are a direct factor into a population’s standard of living, social issues surrounding housing need to be addressed at physical, intellectual, sociological, spiritual, and emotional levels rather than just throwing money at a problem without proper consideration. While this opinion is not completely foreign to the American mind, I have observed it more frequently here.

My next placement at the SAHRC will also address social and ethical issues in a South African context as I work in the legal division. I anticipate working with legal counselors, interviewing victims of human rights violations and moving through the process of reconciling their complaint.  I also hope to start practicing alternative dispute resolution by assisting the mediation of these cases. SAHRC also has a policy branch, so I am also hoping to visit parliament hearings and report on the minutes.

However, before I transition to the SAHRC, my parents are visiting me for a little over a week. We will be exploring Cape Town, going on safari drives in Kruger Park, and visiting Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia. Please wish us health, safety, and nice weather as we reunite and experience Africa as a family.

Spontaneity, the Lack Thereof, and a Beachy Start to Summer

Similar to most activities in Cape Town, going to see the new James Bond movie was a mission. While there is still room for spontaneity in Capetonian life, most events I have participated in took foresight, a moderate amount of time, and reasonable effort to implement. Skyfall was no different.

To obtain seats together, one must get to the theater early to select reserved seats. While the Victoria and Albert Waterfront theater is the closest, it is also the most expensive. Tickets cost R50 for a regular movie or R60 for a ticket at the independent film theater.[1] This is about a third more expensive than other Cape Town cinemas. However, another Connect intern and I decided to save money by walking to the waterfront rather than taking a R30 cab ride. (I know I must sound stingy and absurd considering price in USD, but it adds up in a year!) Our walk ended up taking an hour, getting us to the theater on time, but not early enough to get seats together (James Bond is a South African favorite apparently).

While the other intern, Ashley and I waited for the movie to start, two friendly Bond fans beside me suggested for the crowd to rearrange for her to sit beside me. Eventually Ashley ended up sitting beside me and we were able to munch on the sandwiches we packed to save more money on dinner.


While writing this blog, about the lack of spontaneity in my life, my friend Hannah called and ironically asked if I wanted to jump in her car in 15 minutes to go to Lagoon Beach. I quickly left the coffee shop I was writing at and got ready just in time to visit one of the loveliest beaches I have visited. Hannah and I also made a sand lady and children rushed up to help us, making afro-spaghetti hair.

Lagoon Beach


Hannah walking towards Table Mountain and Lion’s Head

Me with our new sand-lady friend, Judith

Along with Lagoon Beach, I have also been able to visit the Strand, Gordon’s Bay, Cool Bay, Kalk Bay, and Clifton Beach 2 and 4. In the States, I never found much distinction between the beach towns I visited, but perhaps I wasn’t looking. In Cape Town, my curiosity lead me to find different characteristics in each beach.

I visited the Strand beach with my friends Cathy Arendse. The Stand was filled with coloured and black locals eating “ice lollies” and splashing in the shallow waters. Families restlessly moved around the strip of beach in from of high rise condos, looking for the next piece of beach to settle. Cathy and I decided to indulge in ice lollies of our own, forgetting that I did not wear sunscreen. On the way to Cathy’s house she noticed the color of my shoulders and apologized for keeping me out in the sun. She said, “I’m so sorry! I forgot you were white!” I laughed and said that was probably the nicest thing she said to me. Races distinction is such a part of life in South Africa, so it was nice to be thought of without reference to a skin color.

I also visited Gordon’s Bay at the beginning of my trip, but I recently passed by it on my way to hike the Crystal Pools. The other interns and I needed a permit, so our adventure instead took us to Cool Bay. This ended up being the same beach I went to after shark cage diving, only I did not discover the shallow caves at that time. Cliffs and mountains surround the beach, leaving pockets of shadowy breaks in the cliffs to retreat from the strong African sun. This was one of the most beautiful places I have visited thus far, but I, of course, have no photographic documentation.

My recent holiday leave from work has also allowed me time to explore during the week. Due to our time off, a friend from TSiBA was able to join me in an excursion down the Cape Peninsula to Kalk Bay. While exploring the quaint beach town, My friend was able to give me a local perspective about the current political state of the Congo. As a Congolese citizen, he is technically considered a refugee by the South African government, but his rights are hardly met. Refugees have an exceptionally hard time gaining work permits from the government. Even if these are obtained, the xenophobia in the country is pervasive, steadily fueling hatred and poverty. Fortunately and not that surprisingly, he and I were not met with any nasty xenophobic people in Kalk Bay. We walked by the eclectic shops and beach cafes in peace while enjoying the lovely view. On the way back to the city, he pointed out a woman sitting on the train in a dressy, traditional African garment. He said she was Congolese and she must be on her way to see an important person, like a doctor, due to the nature of her outfit.

Clifton is a dramatic change of scene to places like Strand, Muizenberg, or Gordon’s Bay. Beach 2 is almost all white and (not surprisingly) trendy and pretentious. However, my only experience at beach 4 was with TSiBA at our Staff Fun Day. My cheery coworkers were the most enjoyable company while we played games and ate “Kentucky” (KFC) under the shade of umbrellas. While eating, Cindy and I watched workers clean up the seaweed, making the beach spotless. She commented that the act was racist since the “black beaches” were not cleaned like that. I am inclined to believe that the issue is more complex than it seems, however, Cindy’s opinion is very relevant and valid through her experience as a local from the Gugulethu community. Fianlly, her opinion rings true for me in regards to my experiences so far.

Clifton Beach 4

Lion’s Head

Linda, Lindelwa, and Tyson at TSiBA Staff Fun Day

Ignition Centre manager, Abe. I started the tradition of singing “Abie started the fireeeeeeeee” whenever our group won a game

Cindy and I took shelter from the harsh rays under the umbrella

[1] The conversion rate is usually 1 USD to 8 ZAR