Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Johannesburg, Mandela and Apartheid

Sunday, August 9th

Our morning was fairly relaxing because our wake up call didn't come until about 7am. Our breakfast consisted of broiled fish, chocolate cake, beef stew, eggs, and other breakfast items.  The hotel we were staying in put all leftovers out from the night before, then also put some breakfast items out.  We did try the chocolate cake though.

Today was a day of touring Johannesburg and learning more about Nelson Mandela and Apartheid. It was also the last day for some of our group members because they would be going back home. Others will be traveling on to Zimbabwe.

Our bus ride took us around Johannesburg and through Soweto, one of the poorer parts of town. Don, our tour guide grew up in Jo-Burg (as the locals call it) so was able to tell us of Jo-Burg when he was growing up, the politics and take us into specific parts of town where other tours don't venture into...

Power plant not in use anymore...now used for bungee jumping
Jo-Burg is built on a gold vein that runs right under the city.  There are huge mounds of tailings from gold mines.  Jo-Burg use to supply 80% of the world's gold, but China and other countries began mining and now Jo-Burg only supplies 40% of the gold. It is a very industrial city.  It has a financial part of town that has now moved out of Jo-Burg because the downtown area is now very nice anymore.

Don toured us through Soweto where many homes (shacks) are built out of tin roofs and plywood.  It's very dirty and trashy in a lot of the parts.  The South African government has built 3.5 million homes for the poorer families and moved people from the shacks into those homes, but many other families from other countries or parts of South Africa move into the shacks.  In South Africa in order to go to school, you must pay for it, so many of the poorer residents are uneducated.  also, the unemployment rate is very high...around 50%. 

Soweto, very poor

     There are nicer neighborhoods in Jo-Burg, just like other cities in the world.  Like where Nelson Mandela lived out his older years.

We toured the area where Apartheid marches took place near Mandela's house when he was younger.  We learned about riots, killings and all of the horrible Apartheid policies that were placed on black people around South Africa.

Street where marches took place

Interesting signage

Mandela House museum

Mandela's old house...a little different from his last house
After seeing Mandela's old house and having a great lunch down the street, we were off to see another section of Jo-Burg.  Don had the bus driver take us through downtown to an area called Hillbrow...and wow, that was an experience.  There were people everywhere, clothes drying on windows of buildings that looked rundown. You wouldn't think that anyone lived in some of the high rise buildings, but there were. It looked very poor, but there were so many people out on the streets and going places.

We drove into a nicer neighborhood and saw Mandela's last house that he owned.  It was protected by a concrete fence and it was very large.  Our guide said that when Mandela was alive, he was sitting on his back porch one day and Don took a tour group by the house, and Mandela waved at the group.

Mandela's last house
After seeing Mandela's house, we made our way back to the hotel. We had a farewell dinner for our friends that were leaving the following day. We had a great time.  Marg, a friend we met on the trip, surprised Matt with a birthday cake and we sang happy birthday to him.  Matt was so embarrassed, but it was fun. The dinner and conversation was awesome and we had a fantastic night.  It was sad to see some of our group leaving, and it was sad to be thinking about the end of our trip and when we had to go home. 

Matt was so surprised!

Our group

Our group too

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