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23 Aug 2019

Multicolor Africa – Johannesburg, South Africa

Multicolor Africa – Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africa – this strange country in Africa where white people lives. Once I thought like that, yet before the Polish education system, briefly explained the history of this country. How Dutch arrived in the XVII century to the present Cape Town, and a century later the British.

This post is a result of already of two of my flights to Johannesburg. The first took place in late November. From the second one I came back yesterday morning. Despite the fact that I visited so far only Johannesburg, which is just a piece of this huge country (twice as big as Texas), I already have a lot of things to tell, and some good shots to show. So, despite the larger volume of today’s post than usual, do not dare to stop reading before you reach to the end!

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As experience from Nairobi taught me, I started lobbying to gather a team for trip to Lion’s Park, yet before the flight through the e-mails. Sympatric Canadian was delighted about the idea as I was. During the flight we convinced Mongolian girl (only one of two in the whole company! Have in mind there is 19 000 crew in total). The team was ready.

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We arrived in the morning. Slept a few hours and from the hotel we were picked up by Noel, an ex cabin crew in the same company, which now is organizing such trips. On the way to the park I peppered him with questions, how is leaving in South Africa, what about racism after the fall of apartheid and how in general looks like black and white relations. For your information Noel is white, as you will see later, it’s quite an important information. The point of view here is directly dependent on skin color.

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Once, during the Apartheid, the city center was dominated by people of European origin. There were only four entrances to the city, where black residents had to show a permit to be able to enter the city. After the fall of apartheid in 1994 when was held the first fully democratic presidential elections, the center of the African population began to arrive. The result is that the white residents began  leaving downtown of Joburg. Today, U won’t see a white guy there. Personally, I have not seen what it looked like before 1994, but during my visit, the center of Johannesburg didn’t leave on me the best impression. Garbage on the streets, a lot of abandoned buildings, disorder.

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While school buses, ranks for taxis, bathrooms, benches only for whites it’s lucky the past, still the majority of discotheques is dominated by one race or the other. This is obviously not a formal order, but usually the young people of one race are having fun in their own company. Similarly, with relationships between a man and a woman. There are mixed couples, although it is still a rarity. In addition, parents don’t support such relations.

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We were chatting and chatting, until finally we arrived. In the park you could, inter alia, caress the small cubs, watch the adult lions from the car, see hyenas, wild dogs and several other predators. We had a lot of luck (no, not because we weren’t eaten), in front of us was a tour guide familiar with the lions, who was throwing them meat. It was very impressive to watch these kings of animals so excited because of the smell of fresh beef. However it’s a pity that in captivity.

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At my second visit in Johannesburg, I decided to go to Soweto, district from which derives Nelson Mandela, and the one of the most important centers of rebellion against the system. We started from his home. Do not expect luxury here, golden handles, or Johnny Walker from taps. Modest little house with three chambers. Nelson, however, was from a noble family. His father was the chief of the tribe Thembu and had 4 wives and 13 children. Small Rohlilahla (the one that breaks the existing order – parents were clairvoyants?), that was his name before baptism, was born in 1918 in the province. What prompted him to move to the city of Johannesburg? Well, his father arranged a marriage. Young Nelson was terrified by idea of marriage and a “beauty” of a bride, so he ran away. In Joburg he found a job as a night guard at the mine, where he first found out how the South African capitalism works. Making a long story short, Mandela met the people who were opposed to the ruling regime in South Africa and in time he was more and more fascinated by politics. In 1962 he was arrested for “acts of terrorism and attempting to overthrow the government.” In prison, he spent nearly 30 years. He became a symbol of the struggle and apartheid.

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Then me and my guide Moses (black) went to the museum of apartheid. Amazing! I was so impressed by this place. Everyone knows something about this criminal system but  such a visit can  clarified and explain a lot. It is known that the reason to establish such a system was the racism of most of the white South Africans. But what was the direct cause, which pushed for the establishment of such an order? Well, in the 40s of XX century, the black population of the country massively migrate to the cities. Because of that the white land lords were losing their cheap labor.  Something had to stop the outflow. Thus, in the elections of 1948 won the party with a program which was based on racial segregation.

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In 1990 new president de Klerk took over. He began his rules from the release of Mandela and the legalization of opposition. Both of them (Mandela and de Klerk) in 1993 received the Nobel Peace Prize. Negotiations between the white government and the black opposition lasted from 1990 to 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa. The negotiations were long (up to 4 years) and stormy. They were often interrupted by strikes and social unrest. The Nobel Prize which they received one year before the completion of the negotiations was designed to appease both sides, to encourage them to finalize the negotiations.

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With Moses I was discussing similar topics as with Noel. As I mentioned at the beginning, the viewpoints of the two were quite opposite. But I assure you that neither one nor the other is a racist. Moreover, both are partners. Noel (white) during my first visit recommended me Moses (black) as a guy who will take me to Soweto. Besides of being partners, guys are also friends. Despite this, they see different the economic situation in which is now South Africa. According to Noel, the country prior to 1994 was more stable economically. He was also concerned about the growing influence of China in the country. Moses, in turn, sees today’s economy much better, although he admits that there is too much corruption. According to Moses, the relationships between blacks and whites are not uncommon. The guys also have different opinion about Downtown. According to Noel’s it’s very easy to get bitten, especially for the white guy. In contrast, according to Moses it wouldn’t happen anything bad to me. On the controversial question does whether South Africa owes its current position as the most developed country of Africa to long domination of white (of course, at terrible cost), both agreed.

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.After changing the leadership team in 1994 there wasn’t revenge black on whites, bloody bath. It deserves for a huge respect and admiration. No doubt, it’s a lot better than it was. All residents, whether white, black, yellow, color, or Hindus have equal access (at least according to the Constitution) to education, medical care, social services and employment in the state sector. There is no longer a separate benches, toilets, buses. What, however, is not governed by the law, determine people. Johannesburg Districts are divided into settlements for whites and blacks. Imagine in your own city that one district has only white residents and other only black. Each house is enclosed by a high wall topped with barbed wire. Some barbed wires are even electric. Going through these neighborhoods surrounded by high walls and separating the public space, you feel like a stranger.

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Maybe unity in diversity (as is the motto of the state says) isn’t complete to the end, social divisions still persist. But on the other hand, is there a country does not have such divisions?

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