My first few days in Cape Town has been a whirlwind of emotions with various thoughts going through my mind. I am awe-struck by how friendly the people of Cape Town are, especially in the townships we have visited. Even though we are outsiders looking in, the people have treated us with respect and seem to welcome us…I think!?!?!? We started our Day 1 adventure on a cloudy sprinkled morning and boated to Robben Island to tour the prison and island. The prison was very thought-provoking to me because it was the South African prison that housed all of the political inmates, including Nelson Mandela, who served 16 years there. Our tour guides were remarkable and shared a wealth of knowledge. Our first guide who gave us a tour of the prison was an ex-inmate who was housed there for 6 years from 1985 – 1991. You could sense the emotion he had about working in a place where he was once enslaved and he expressed how good it felt to be able to work on the island during the day but still be able to return home to his family when his day ended. The whole experience was very powerful and humbling.
After lunch we went to the township of Langa and took a tour of the community with two community members who were also very enthusiastic and welcomed us with open arms. When I was there it kind of felt like I was back home on the Navajo Nation reservation….I also got to eat some mutton head (sheep), which was a nice little treat for me…The Townspeople called the sheep head “smileys” because when it is finished cooking the sheep actually looks like it’s smiling from ear to ear. J And just seeing all of the kids running around, playing in the dirt, then seeing some of the elders all hanging out together socializing, and the arts and crafts being sold in the community really touched home for me. Some of the stories that were told also related to some of the Navajo traditions that we also practice. It was a very abundant feeling and it also conveyed some cultural humility to me as well.