Cheyenne in South Africa

Cheyenne is a junior from Dallas majoring in public policy, with a minor in economics and human rights. She traveled with a group of 15 students, faculty and community members on a trip August 2-12 to South Africa, led by SMU Human Rights Program director Rick Halperin. The trip focused on the events and landmarks of apartheid, the system of racial segregation enforced there by the white-controlled government from 1948 to 1989.

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Apartheid’s past

Today we experienced townships in Cape Town.

Grafitti.jpg We first visited the District Six Apartheid museum. The building was an old church and much smaller than the Johannesburg museum, giving off a more intimate vibe. We then continued to Langa, the oldest apartheid housing scheme in the Western Cape townships.

We then stopped in Guguletu Township and visited a shebeen, a pub, and sampled a bit of homemade beer. It tasted more like grass and cost 12 cents. We also visited the newer hostels, which are not like the hostels we think of, but other forms of government housing during apartheid. They are basic brick buildings with over-crowed, inhumane conditions.

We had lunch at a small cafe in the township and even got to visit a local African tribal doctor. The room was filled with old bones, herbs, bottles, just about anything you could imagine. There was also a dead owl stung up across the wall with his stomach freshly cut up.

AIDS aware
Next we drove to the JL Zwane Center and Church in the Guguletu Township. This church is different in that it welcomes and openly discusses and advocates the HIV/AIDS problem in South Africa. They make it their point to become involved in their community and help educate citizens about HIV and help citizens gain access to health care while providing an after-school and nutrition program. The sanctuary had a banner on the front with a red AIDS awareness ribbon with the quote “We care.” This is unlike most churches, which do not take a supportive role in the prevention of AIDS.

After our talk at the church we had to take Dr. Halperin to the airport. That was a sad goodbye, as he was a vital part of the group, and it also meant we too were about to say goodbye to Africa.

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