Monthly Archives: January 2018

Day 7: Walk in Soweto

Today we spent our day touring part of the Soweto township. We walked through several different neighborhoods as we listened to the history of the township. During our walk we made many stops so we could hear the stories of its people and we were moved listening to the account of their struggles, both past and present. We learned a few words in Zulu, so we could greet the neighbors and high-five the children. We also enjoyed watching their dances and listened to their songs. We stopped at some of their food stands and tried the local snacks and ice lollies.

We walked by the house of Nelson Mandela and the spot where Hector Pieterson, one of the first victims of the Anti-Apartheid movement, was killed. We also walked by the house of Lilian Ngoyi, a young women’s rights activist who was sentenced to decades of house arrest.

We wrapped up the day with a traditional meal at a local restaurant. It was a delicious meal prepared with local food, cooked in the open fire. It was the best end to a tiring, yet highly satisfying experience.

Day 6: Apartheid

Today it was a very emotional day. In the morning we visited the Apartheid Museum. There we learned about the history of South Africa and about the struggle of its people to live in harmony and to regain their freedom and their dignity. We learned about the lives lost and the extreme suffering of many in their road to a better country. No better day than Martin Luther King’s day to remember these events.

In the afternoon we visited Constitution Hill in downtown Johannesburg. There we visited the old prison which held both common and political prisoners until 1983. Famous inmates in this prison were Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. This prison is testament to the difficult past of South Africa in its journey towards democracy. It was very sad and emotional to hear the difficult stories of those who went through this prison, but at the same time it made us appreciate more the freedoms we enjoy today.

Day 5: Maboneng (2)

Maboneng is the vision of a young South African entrepreneur who started buying property in this area of Johannesburg and redeveloped it to bring it back to life. He started his work a little over 10 years ago, bringing back to life this previously abandoned area of the city. There are now hotels, cafes, schools and apartment buildings, and many new businesses are opening constantly. There is a strong emphasis in the arts and a lot of young artists and designers find here support to exhibit and sell their work. It was a pleasure walking around the neighborhood today and enjoying this beautiful day in the city,

Day 5: Maboneng

We are now en route back to school after visiting the Maboneng precinct in downtown Johannesburg. We walked around this recently redeveloped neighborhood, climbed to the tallest building in the southern part of the continent, and ate at an international food market.

Day 4: Founder Day Games

Today the African Leadership Academy celebrated its 10th anniversary. Every year they celebrate the school’s birthday with a day of games. The school has six houses (club teams) named after the main six African rivers. Each house competes regularly during the year and especially on this day the same we have our Minks, Possums and Squirrels. Today there were mainly track competition events mixed with some non-competitive, school spirit oriented events.

We participated in the Founder Day Games as our own house along with students from the Germantown Friends School who are also visiting ALA. We participated in almost all events, even though that meant that we had to run in some all-male ones. Our girls did and awesome job today, winning three of the events (4×400, 4×100 and 100 meters).

The day was beautiful, there was a great sense of celebration in the air. The music was loud and happy, everyone was dancing and smiling. It was definitely a beautiful celebration.

In the afternoon we walked to a nearby store where the students wanted to buy some fruit and snacks. We also did some of our BUILD work and finished the day with a dance ALA style. We are exhausted after this long, beautiful day.

Tomorrow we will visit the neighborhood of Maboneng in downtown Johannesburg.