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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Arrival in Johannesburg

We arrived at the Johannesburg airport the next morning around 8 a.m. By then we were really dirty, tired, and a bit stinky too.

Some of us exchanged money, and then we all met our tour guide Paul, who loaded us up in the van we rented for the trip. Since our hotel rooms would not be ready till the afternoon we decided to flip the schedule and go straight to our planned activities. We first drove by the Union building, which was where the white government controlled South Africa during the apartheid regime. This building was huge, ornate, and had impeccably kept gardens. Visitors are no longer allowed to go inside so we just walked around the outside and the gardens. This was also where Nelson Mandela gave his inaugural speech when he became president in 1994.

Dutch museum
After that we drove to the Voortrekker Museum, which is a huge square building on the top of a hill that symbolizes the struggles the Dutch settlers faced when first migrating to the land. It was ironic because this monument was built by the Dutch to honor themselves, but eventually it was the Dutch who mistreated the native Africans. The enormous monument was made to depict the Dutch as the ones who suffered hardships. Of course, there was no mention of this at the monument.

Church Square
Last for the day we drove by Church Square, the main downtown with historic buildings. Our tour guide was very informative. He explained how South Africa has three capitals, each city running a different part of the country. After that we all checked in at the hotel and took long-awaited showers. The hotel was very nice and strangely enough specialized in providing customers with apples in their room.

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