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Southern Africa Fall 2016: Week 2 Reflections

This is an excerpt from the student-assigned blog for our Southern Africa semester, which can be found on the website “blog spot” at:

Week Two: The Unseen Colors of the Rainbow Nation

by Imani Briscoe, St. Joseph’s University & Kitty McGirr, Univ. of California, San Diego

… it is very intriguing that, even with the acknowledged importance of the history of South Africa’s “Rainbow Nation”, discussions surrounding the indigenous people and colonization of what is now known as Cape Town rarely occur. Most of what we find in the American education history books regarding the changes Cape Town has gone through seems to focus on the racial issues of blacks and whites.  There is little to no conversation about the people who originally lived, loved and lost before the social constructs of race dominated the historical narratives; narratives such that influenced the process of colonization, which has very much impacted current day Cape Town. This past week we took a walking tour of the city of Cape Town with Lucy and Kadijah from Transcending History Tours, and learned a plethora of information about the way of life before and during colonial settlement and were given an opportunity to discover the untold story of Cape Town’s first people, the khoi-san.

In every building we entered, every short filmed viewed, and every monument we paid respect to, I thought of Cape Town’s historical parallels to what was happening in the United States of America during the same time. It is illuminating to learn that on the other side of the world the same methods of racial division through systematic control and oppression were being implemented. It’s interesting to consider how both regions were shaped by the countless issues that colonization and devastation left behind. As a black American and proponent of black-consciousness, with no known blood relative connections to the Africa as a whole, I, Imani, have heard about the same kind of oppression and slavery time and time again on American soil and therefore felt like I shared a common history with those people who went through the same struggles as my ancestors did, just in another place of the world.

We encourage you to read the full post, along with other semester student thoughts and reflections on the website “blog spot” at: