Posted by Delise Hampton
This is the first post of Ms. Hampton’s South Africa series on Ask The Strategist, which highlights her acclimation to the new country, and focus on international issues, diversity, economics, and life as a student abroad.
Every day has been beautiful since my arrival. The shadow of Table Mountain in my periphery, and the sun smiling onto the crystals of sweat on my forehead, make each day beautiful in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the type of natural beauty that makes me wonder just how this lush landscape was turned upside down by apartheid. The effects of the forced separation still linger in the streets of South Africa, inevitably reminding me of the United States of America, where, although, we tend to act as if we dwell in a post-racial society, there is still work to be done. The revelation of this similarity between the United States and South Africa has helped me to identify the many cultural and historical elements that make both countries unique, yet somewhat the same.
Besides the fact that South Africans drive on the opposite side of the road, the structure of Cape Town, with its skyscrapers and fancy hotels, reminds me of home. Despite the luxurious surroundings, Cape Town also has an impoverished community. These communities are given the name townships, which are synonymous to the word “ghetto” in the United States; however, the conditions and historical contexts behind their developments are quite different. Being neither worse nor better, the struggle for bare necessities is where the common thread meets.
Recently, I visited Langa Township, which is where primarily Black South Africans reside, who were forcibly removed from their homes during apartheid and relocated to other areas. The most apparent difference, when compared to America, is just how much each household structure in the township made a statement about the economic status of those who lived there. One home mirrored an affluent family, while the neighboring home represented the complete opposite. The economic disparity within Cape Town is visibly present where it seems as though there is no middle ground – either you are filthy rich or dirt poor.
In retrospect, the beauty of it all is that Cape Town’s natives are just as beautiful as the natural scenery that surrounds them, without regard to their shade, shape, or size. An international onlooker like myself could not be more privileged to be immersed in such a diverse culture. Hopefully, in the months that I am here, I will have to chance to understand and contribute to Cape Town as a citizen of the world, while helping fellow local citizens in their struggles to advance. In essence, the similarities and differences between home and Cape Town help me personalize my experience abroad and acclimate to this new environment, realizing that the similarities outweigh the differences.
About the Blogger: Delise Hampton
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Guest Blogger Delise Hampton grew up in a very modest home, with four siblings and her mother as the sole provider of the necessities. No stranger to hardships, one of the most memorable experience was that of Hurricane Katrina. Delise was only ten years old, but she never let this hold her back, and the experience firmed her resolve to maximize every moment. Currently matriculating at Howard University, Delise is a strong-willed, positive, and curious young lady, whose primary goal in life is to affect change in the world, one country, city, or region at a time.
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