Ma’az – For the 23 years that the ANC has governed South Africa many aspects of life have changed while others remain static. Erik described that the housing situation in South Africa hasn’t particularly changed due to the government wanting to make some cities look more tourist friendly and that has really pushed black many black Africans from owning property in nicer regions of South Africa. This kind of policy is seen throughout the world in the Americas and Europe but also in Africa. That leaves me wondering; even though apartheid may not be the governing system/ideology anymore how much has really changed in South Africa? Maybe on the surface level apartheid seems to be gone but I perceive it as still an ideology that is lingering on and is seen in the institutions of not just South Africa but throughout Africa. You can juxtapose this to the United States’ history with slavery and how that effect of that system and ideology still lingers on within the policies and institutions in the United States. The ideology of apartheid (or slavery) may not be verbatim (in the US and South Africa) but the notion those ideas/policies are no longer present seems untenable and sophistic.
Alex – While some aspects of South Africa seem to be pretty similar to the US, many other aspects of it are vastly different. There is similar segregation and discrimination between different races in South Africa and here in the US. Erik also said that there is hate for people of other African countries, which isn’t really similar in the US as for the most part people don’t hate people from other states. It seems like a pretty violent place in some areas, but thankfully Erik has never been involved in or really seen too much violence down there.
Ben – From what Erik said South Africa seems better than I actually thought it would be. From the way it is described in the book and the things I have heard it has seemed like a dangerous, violent crime zone. But the way Erik was talking about, the things he was saying, and the fact he has never been in a dangerous situation proved me otherwise. I also realized that the questions we asked were mainly negative and that’s all due to the name South Africa has. I feel like every question was talking about the danger there and so forth, I don’t think I ever heard a question like “how good is the food” or “how is the music”.
Isaac – There was much that was discussed, by students, and by Erik that made me think more deeply about what it means to be bigoted, to be oppressive as well as what it means to be “the other” while the discussion was occurring I was wondering myself if legal bigotry, such as apartheid, or social bigotry, such as the lasting effects of apartheid and beliefs of white supremacists to this day, is harder to combat. Let me explain, would it be easier to change the minds of individuals fundamentally or to make legislation to stop crimes against humanity. The former to me is obviously the more difficult to change. But then that begs the question, what has changed? And is change of heart, so extreme where everyone accepts everyone else, even possible? And my Answer is an honest no nothing has changed on a global scale and no change is possible. This is because when the bigot and the oppressor exist, the bigot and the oppressor often fuel one another, if they aren’t the same person, and they have always existed throughout history with one another side by side and always against some group or people, always creating the concept of “the other”. Thinking back on our talk today I was able to understand why I still think this, humanity cannot overcome bigotry at least not completely and therefore the characters, the bigot, the oppressor, and “the other” all find their place in history and they show up again, and again, and again, and though there are many anomalies throughout the human experience, these characters, the oppressor and the bigot, find their place in men like Adolf Hitler, and so we say “Never again!” And yet as we speak they have found 10 new hosts and have found 10 new disenfranchised groups to prosecute and label “the other” and this process has yet to end. Therefore throughout the many inconsistencies in humanity, these characters and the process of alienation and bigotry is the one true constant.
Malaika – It was so cool getting to talk to Erik about Johannesburg and his experiences. I was especially interested in what he said about how people look at him there. Because Erik is black, I would assume that given the problems in South Africa with race, that he would be treated like everyone who has dark skin. But, I was surprised to hear from him that that’s not always the case. He talked about how because he is from the U.S., he is seen as “not as black” as the black South Africans. I still wonder why people there think of it this way. Do they really think that being an American makes you better than everyone else? I was a little bit disappointed that Erik couldn’t answer my question about the use of the word “kaffir”, but I hope he looks into that word with his South African friends. I really want to know if it’s really an equivalent to the “N” word in our culture or if it’s used only as derogatory from anyone who says it.
John – I thought it was really interesting talking to Erik today. Something kind-of hit me when he said he was really lucky not to have been in any violent encounters or anything over 20 years. It’s scary that that’s something that someone would say is lucky and not normal, where in the U.S., the expectation is that you would feel safe and a much smaller number of people will be robbed or hurt or something. It’s scary to think about that kind of life and lack of safety when you have to constantly watch your back, and that’s just a given to these people. It was also weird and interesting to hear that being an American black person; you are treated less “black” in South Africa. I haven’t thought about that kind of racial discrimination before, and how different factors like being from America would incredibly change people’s opinions of you. Also, the thing about the housing that he was talking about how the regulations and things are pretty much exactly the same as during Apartheid. I think everyone asked good and meaningful questions, but maybe we didn’t really acknowledge any of the good and beautiful things from South Africa. Finally, I was surprised when Erik said that South African Brewing owns Miller beer, because I didn’t really think of the U.S. as having many business connections there.
Naomi – I thought that it was very interesting that they are in winter and the temperature is 64. I also thought it was interesting that they put layers on clothes on when it’s that type of temperature. I also thought that it was very interesting that Erik never really had a problem in South Africa with the many times he’s been to it. What also caught my attention was that when Erik got caught by the police they thought he was from Zimbabwe or somewhere else. Erik also said that they don’t really like people who have accents. I also thought that the South Africans would treat American black people the same but instead they don’t. When Erik was talking about how the blacks had to live outside on the city and wasn’t able to come to the city unless they had a pass. I also thought it was interesting that Erik mentioned that the segregation in South Africa is somewhat getting better and most of them are not treating each other like they use to. He also mentioned that he’s been going to South Africa for 23 years and it’s been changing over the time he has been going. The other thing that was interesting was when Erik mentioned that South Africa owned Miller brewing company, and that they had good wine. Another thing is when Erik talked about the book and how the word Kaffir was used in South Africa but he never said if it was still used today.
Valerie – From the description in the book South Africa is described as a very dangerous and crime infested area, but talking with Erik I was able to get another perspective. He also explained to us that unfortunately racial segregation is still alive in South Africa today. This is evident through the housing situation in South Africa, where many black Africans are not allowed to live in “nice” areas because they want those areas to “stay safe” and attract tourism. I also found it very interesting when he mentioned that the people from Johannesburg looked down, and could beat up people from different parts of Africa, when he told us the story of when he was stopped by the police due to his accent. It would’ve been really nice to talk to Erik for longer so we could have asked more about the culture in South Africa today, food, music, and etc. so we can compare it to what we already know. All around I really enjoyed listening to what Erik had to say about South Africa and what he learned from the many years he’s traveled there. He was able to portray it to us as a wonderful and unique place, so we can stay away from the stereotype that everything in South Africa is poor or infested with crime.