Christian Names

Something that has really caught my attention in South Africa are the “Christian Names”.   A Christian Name is a name given to a person that has a hard name to pronounce. I think this is a terrible concept.  You are telling people to take a easier name, just because you will not take the time to learn it.  I am the first to admit that I have a hard time remembering names and also pronouncing them, but I at least make the effort to try to get it right.

Identity is something that South Africa has struggled to discover since the new government  has been active.  I don’t think that giving people names to others then what they were born with is a source of identity.  Most African names have meaning to them, but when you take away their names you strip them from their identity.  The world makes them more convenient and more like everyone else.  When you become like the rest of the world then you become at a disconnect with your origins.

People need to stop and realize that just because, someone isn’t like them doesn’t mean that its wrong.  There is a lady at my work place and she has a Xhosa name.  Xhosa I will admit it is  hard(especially trying to get all of the clicks down). Others call her by her “Christian Name”, instead of her Xhosa name.  Just after hearing the name and saying it over a few times aloud, I was able to pronounce and ad the click in her name.

The world needs to try to understand others and different cultures.  One doesn’t do this by by taking the easy route through life. Taking the time to learn the things you don’t understand and taking them for what they are, instead of molding them into the society in which you are used to.  I think this is something that is wrong with the world.  People are constantly trying to change peoples lifestyles, to one that will be more suitable to the world.  This isn’t the right approach and this is just one of the ways that identities are lost.

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History Disconnect

Something that is often talked about in present South Africa is the lack of knowledge the youth have.  I not saying they aren’t smart, but they aren’t aware of there history.  They know that slavery took place and the apartheid did in fact happen, but they are at a strong disconnect, with their ansistors.  Youth aren’t aware of the struggle and probably couldn’t imagine the things people did to get equality in this country.

Mandela is often what people relate the apartheid with, as do the States with Martin Luther King for the civil rights movement.   Not to discredit either political figure, but they do not define the struggle.  When I talk about about apartheid all I can imagine is the similarities that happened during the civil rights movement.  But what I learned about the the civil rights movement, didn’t just come out of a text book.  My grandmother was apart of the civil rights movement along with others, and she has not had problem telling her grand childern the struggle that she had to go through to get equality for everyone.

I will put blame on the elder people in South Africa.  The youth don’t know it because, no one stresses it to them.  From what I can tell the people of the struggle are keeping quit about the horrific events that happened in their past.  I can understand not wanting to talk about it.  I get it! You went through a rough time, but when your future leaders don’t understand why so many died, then you have to stop holding it in.  People say that there is no audience and no hope.  I don’t believe that.  If your grandmother or grandfather speaks to you, out of respect you listen.  You wouldn’t walk out or say you don’t care.  Regulardless if you wanted to hear it, you would still listen.

Struggles are ment to be told and shared.  At some point the elder people will die off and history will be lost.  If people are so worried about the future leaders, they would take some time to education them of what used to be, instead of reading the glorified version of the horrific events in a text book.

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Broken Democracy

As a citizen of any country it is most important to get in touch with the ones in power. As an American I must say this is a very serious and easy thing to do; to get your voice heard. While working with Participation Junction I found this simple opportunity is not available to the citizens of South Africa. My project here was to research each member of parliament and make sure all previous information was correct. While doing it I found it very hard to even get an email addresses for the members. This disconnect with the citizens and members would presume to be an issue. Participation Junction is an NGO that helps the people get there voices heard and to get in touch with the Government. I found it strange and odd that information such as when members were in session and telephone numbers were absent. I almost wanted to call the people that are in charge of this website and ask why it was that this information was not available. As an citizen I would be enraged and discouraged to speak out. I would be discouraged because, the access wouldn’t be provided for me to even get in touch with them. I would be enraged because, it is part of a democracy to be able to have contact with your Representative. As an America this surely makes me appreciate our system of democracy. Any day of the week I know I could walk in to my Congressman’s office and be able to talk to him or his personal staff. I am encouraged to support and speak out on issues that are of interest to me. I can talk, write or email to my representative on issues that concern me and others around me. I just do not get that vibe from the parliament website.

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Perception of Beauty

In America women are obsessed with weight and the Worlds perception of beauty. It is something that people move mountains to try to change. When people quote that beauty is pain, that is no exaggeration. Women tend to get plastic surgeries, go on extremely unhealthy diets, or wear clothing that sucks in the fat in which distorts their body image. I am guilty of doing some of these things because, magazines and T.V. shows often portray beauty as being skinny.

Since I have been in Cape Town I have noticed something when I go to night clubs or I am just out. I noticed that most of the Black African Women aren’t to concerned with what the world has to say about beauty. I say this because some women have a gut that women in the states would shun upon. At first I even looked at these women like “why wouldn’t they wear clothing that would make you look slimmer”. As I pondered on it some more I just concluded that these women are beautiful because they are so comfortable in their own skin. They aren’t ashamed with the bodies that they have, I find this very prideful.

People in America are focused on what others will think about them at the end of the day. Instead of finding the beauty with in ourselves, we are to concerned about what others perception of beauty is. Some of these extreme diets that people go on often lead them right back to where they started or even in death. Its just interesting to see how other control how we look at ourselves.



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Near Death

I don’t know if you have ever seen anyone have a food allergy, but it is a serious matter and could result into death. I unfortunately am allergic to tree nuts and all sea food. If I come into contact with in of these foods, I can either go to the hospital or go take some allergy medicine. Fish is always easy to avoid but tree nuts may be the hardest to catch. They are often in deserts and at time cant even be tasted or seen.

This past week during during dinner the worst happened and I came in contact with a desert that had nuts in it. I only found this out after I had completed the whole dish. My tongue started to itch and throat started to swell. I admittedly tried to get the waiter but he was no where to be found, so I acted another waiter if there had been tree nuts in this desert? She simply said “I don’t know but I can find out.” Three minutes had passed and still now answer,so I proceeded to ask another waiter and he also took his time, but when he returned he said that there had been almonds and pecans in the desert. I left the restaurant in a hurry to get home to take some medicine, so I could avoid the hospital.

I bring this incident up because, while the waiters just took there time to find out if there were in fact nuts in the desert, I could have easily hyperventilated and died. Back home the same situation has happened and the manger made it a point to go to the store and buy me some allergy medicine. I’m not sure exactly what this means but it definitely a situation that has caught my attention. My best guess would be that the restaurants here aren’t liable for the customers. In the US someone would find this a reason to sue the company, because of the lack of effort put forth for the costumers. 

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the Demanding American

Hate is something that I rarely say and is something that I encourage people to avoid. The first week of working with my NGO (CVET), I thought it was the worst internship that one could have, and in fact I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. I was positive that I had come in with an open mind to something I was completely uninterested in, until I was lead with no direction. Mater of fact I wrote my adviser/professor and told him how I just didn’t think it would work out because, of the lack of structure. I have been an intern for various firms for the past four years and I was sure I would have a task. Well day three went by and my boss at my job still had not come up with a long nor a short term goal for me and my other peer to accomplish. At this point I felt like no one was taking the situation seriously and that I was just wasting my time.


I talked to my other adviser and apparently my boss wasn’t happy with the way that I presented myself either. So she talked to me about what I could do and how I could make the situation better. She said instead of using “No, but …” try “Yes, but…” to see where it got me. When the next week rolled around I went in an apologized to my boss and told her anything that she needed me to do that I was welling to do so. She accepted and low and behold after talking with her I had a task at hand. I tell you this story because, as an American I am used to someone giving me a task and I complete it an come ask for more when it is done. Here there is a bit of a culture difference that I wasn’t aware of before now. In South Africa the people and the NGO’s are laid back and don’t have the corporate appeal. This is hard for me because, I had it programed into my mind that this is the way its supposed to go and if it doesn’t then its not the right way. I will be the first to admit that I was wrong and very impatient that I didn’t know or understand my reason for being with this NGO. After my attitude had changed and I was willing to give it another try, another opportunity arises to work with a different NGO that fits my career path. Even though I am not working with CVET any more, I can say I took away a learning experience and I learned something new about myself.

I learned that the American way isn’t necessarily the right way and also I am no longer in America. I have learned to work with someone that is the complete opposite of how I operate. I am the self motivated intern that is always ready for more work but, it obvious that not everyone works in that manner. I now know that just because I want something to be done, right, then and there that it won’t just happen like that. I appreciate the experience and I have found I need to work on patients and the way I treat people even when I feel like I have shut down.

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Best Kept Secret

This past week i had the opportunity to visit one of the oldest townships that exist in Cape Town.  I was excited, but at the same time I didn’t want to be this American just coming through on a bus to take pictures of this poor neighborhood.  Little did I know that this isn’t what was in store.

Later I found out that the tour guide had already had a partnership with some people in the township and had provided someone that actually lived there to be our guide.  I found this interesting and comforting at the same time.  Interesting because, who would have thought that someone would want others coming to look at his enviornment and just take pictures.  Comforting because, he knew the area and I was comfortable with getting out of the bus and really try to get a  feel for the people that live there.

Going in I also thought that I would see some sad sob neighborhood with children that had flies on their faces, and starving.  This was far some the case and actually very different.  The perception of what I have seen on t.v. is not at all what I observed.  I got a feel of community pride.  Even though some of these people are in a worse situation then some of the others in the township, they made best of the situation.  There is obviously some amazing talent in the townships and some of the work is up for sale in the visitors center.  One lady lived in what we call a shanty town, but she allowed us to come and see what exactly how she lives.  She also used her talents for crafts and creating jewelry and shared this talents with others around her.  This is also a self empowerment, so that the talent can be passed around.

I loved this experience and I am glad I got to see the greatest kept secret in Cape Town.

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