Community, Brotherhood and the Fight for Freedom

The Robben Island and the Langa township visits were a strong start to our trip here in South Africa. Both inspired deep thought and reflections around what community means and how it is the essence of change and political movement here in Africa.The brotherhood in the prison, the strong sense of community and culture in the Langa township and the sense of unity within the current student driven protests all shine light on the importance of community and a united soul connection in order to restore humanity.

At Robben Island, it was interesting to learn about the brotherhood that was built between the prisoners as they worked to empower one another through discussion and dialogues about the political climate. It is fascinating how determined these individuals were to create equality and freedom through reaching for the highest level of political consciousness, while facing incredibly dehumanizing and degrading situations. Yet, even within the darkness, they stood strong in their beliefs and worked towards using reconciliation as a catalyst to bring about peaceful change in their country. While of course their conditions and the state of the prison was poor, I walked away inspired by their sheer determination and mission to restore humanity.

Later on in the day, I was once again inspired by the strong sense of community in Langa. Their views about being wealthy in the heart versus deeming happiness on material items is one that I think many people across the world can learn from. Visiting that township made me think about how much our society in America really lacks a sense of community that brings about unity, safety and wellbeing. Yes, many people in that township face multiple hardships and live in what we would deem as poverty, but their ever fighting spirit of connection to one another and the culture that they have created is contagious.

I walked away from this day in a deep state of reflection, thinking about the differences in community movements and protests that are occurring in South Africa versus America. In our country, a protest happens and it is in the media for a few days until something new happens for the media to focus on. Or a small solution is made to the problem, but never followed up on. It seems to be that a big shift is happening in South Africa lead by the youth, who have joined together as one unifying force. I am curious to see what comes of this and how culture, oppression, community, power and privilege come into play.

Emma

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