The Bad

I feel like I’ve done a decent job of offering a small taste of South Africa’s beauty. That being said, I think I owe authenticity a chance to take the stand in it’s most ruthless form. From the start of this trip I have been faced with unthinkable beauty, untamed and untampered with, but I have also faced some of the most atrocious encounters I ever cared to fathom. It is not in my interest to criticize or expose unfairly, I simply feel like my reports have been slightly unbalanced.

Upon arriving in Secunda, I experienced a wealth of the Afrikaans culture. Along with their rich superficial hospitality, I met political ignorance immeasurable pride. This ignorant American took great comfort to hear, after brought up in small talk, that THESE whites were not the least bit racist. Not even ten minutes later we delved into the world of racial hatred and not even a disclaimer was offered to compensate the contradiction. One local, albeit kind enough to us, informed us that, “You have to get out of town, you won’t see any lions or elephants here. These are the only animals you’ll find here.” The last sentence was partnered with a proud finger pointing at some black construction workers nearby.

With nearly every corner of the country reached, it’s safe to assume plenty of time was spent in the back seat of a car, staring out the window. Although I firmly believe that the faster we move the lest we experience and subsequentially, the less we learn, however, I can boast some interesting encounters from the passenger seat (see previous post…). Here are a c0uple interesting sights: Several posters exclaiming “DISCOUNT! Half off abortions for students!”, infants being used by beggars in order to strike drivers’ emotions, people (about 9 and counting) walking up and saying “give me that soccer ball” as we walked by with one in our hands.

We met a homeless man in McDonald’s (yes McDonald’s, we couldn’t resist….) who said we were the first visitors he’d ever met (all this after the largest international sporting event that didn’t manage to make an appearance in the ghetto). He said, “nobody treats me this nice, I would very much like to visit America one day.” I was appauled that 4 twenty-something year olds from the USA were nicer than most people he’d known.

Another man mentioned at one point that he loved how our country didn’t categorize or classify people by their color, a rash statement that I shamefully did not correct.

I’ve been shook down for soccer balls and cash. I’ve been told to my face, “you need to leave our country”. I have been insulted and accused for choosing not to give a drunk man money.

There have been awful eye opening experiences of the filth of mankind. The dirty stench of what mankind is capable of still lingers around me. It’s a stench that, while fully realized in Africa, reminded me of home.

Published in: on 17/07/2010 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  

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