The Long Walk To Freedom In Johannesburg, South Africa

The Long Walk to Freedom in Johannesburg, South Africa

“Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul, and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all. ~”Nelson Mandela

I’m staying at the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg. It is in the upmarket neighborhood of Sandhurst. The hotel is a unique blend of contemporary design,African art, and South African cultural heritage.In 1990 it became Nelson Mandela’s first residence after his 27-year-incarceration. The luxurious Joburg home was provided by a businessman named Doug Steyn.

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It was here that Mandela started writing his book “Long Walk to Freedom”. It is fascinating to see the many drawings (copied from original photos) on the hotel’s walls in the lobby, library and corridors. They give some insight into rather recent South African history..

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The Apartheid Museum is a difficult place that you must absolutely visit to understand the country of South Africa. Your ticket specifies which door you will enter and what first experience you will have.

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This museum helps one comprehend what happened to Mandela and the ANS.

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It is a state-of-the-art tribute to the rise and fall of apartheid. Twenty-two exhibition areas take the visitor on an emotional journey through a state-sanctioned system based on racial discrimination.

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It was put together on a seven-hectare site by a team of curators, film-makers, historians, designers and architects. Film footage, photographs, text panels and artifacts depict the story.

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When you leave the museum, visitors are invited to take a stone from the left and place it on the growing pile of stones on the right as a commitment to fighting against racism and discrimination.

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Mandela’s humble house in Orlando West, Soweto is where he lived as a free man. It is located at 8115 Vilakazi Street and has been turned into the Mandela Family Museum.

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It houses an assortment of memorabilia, paintings, photographs and collection of honorary doctorates bestowed on Mandela from universities around the world. You are always taken around by a guide.

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When Winnie Madikizela married Mandela in 1958, she then moved into this Soweto home. Winnie Mandela spent many years here being harassed by the Apartheid Police.

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Mandela seldom stayed here as he was living life on the run. But it was the house he returned to after his release from prison in February 1990.

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.”It was only then that I knew in my heart I had left prison,” he said in “Long Walk to Freedom.” “For me, no. 8115 was the centre of my world, the place marked with an X in my mental geography.”

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu has a house on the same street. Desmond Tutu and his family moved into this house in 1975. Vilakazi Street is said to be the only street in the world where two Nobel Prize winners have lived.

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During the time that Tutu lived here he became a Nobel Laureate for his struggles against Apartheid and he led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for President Mandela. He did not have to live in Soweto which then had very few houses with electricity and running water but did not want to be seen as an “honorary white” living in Houghton at that time. His house is not open to the public.

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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to deal with what happened under apartheid. It was to record and bear witness to the human rights violations that occurred during that time by both the perpetrators and the victims. It was about amnesty, reparation and rehabilitation. It was considered successful though it had criticism. At least people finally knew what happened to their friends and families and where the bodies were buried.

The Hector Peterson Museum is also located in Orlando West Soweto.Hector Peterson was 12-years-old on June 16, 1976 when he joined his fellow students to protest against the use of Afrikaans in the schools. They were walking and singing the now National Anthem Nkosi Silele Africa, and police open fire. Sam Nima captured this famous image and smuggled the film out in his socks. The photographs were published in the World which was the Soweto newspaper which let to widespread riots and protests throughout South Africa. Hector Peterson, like Rosa Parks became a martyr and the face of the protest. If you have been lucky enough to have never cried in a museum before, you probably will here.

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Visiting Constitution Hill is eye-opening. It is the only constitutional court in the world built on land that housed three prisons. They chose to build the tools for democratic society on the pain of the past.

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The prisons housed many famous prisoners including Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. The court and the great steps are built from the bricks of the old prison.

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I was stunned to learn that same-sex marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2005.  Additionally, the death penalty was abolished in the early nineties.  The country has always been forward-thinking when it comes to social change.  This is huge when you consider that in Uganda, just a few countries away, homosexuality carries the death penalty.

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The works of dozens of leading South African artists including Marlene Dumas, Gerard Sekoto, William Kentridge, Dumile Feni, Judith Mason, Willie Bester, Cecil Skotnes, Hamilton Budaza, Kim Berman, Sue Williamson, Anton van Wouw, John Baloyi, and Andrew Verster are on display in the Court. (tablets record each day  of Mandela’s incarceration)

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The collection also includes works by international artists including Marc Chagall.  Each of the pieces have been donated to the Court as tributes to the Constitution and what it means.

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The painting that stayed with me was of a blue dress by Judith Mason. She was inspired by the story of activist Phila Ndwandwe  who was shot by the Security Police after being kept naked for weeks in trying to make her an informant. She preserved her dignity by making panties of a blue plastic bag. This garment was found wrapped around her pelvis when they found her skeleton. ‘She simply would not talk’, one of the policeman involved in her death testified at the Truth and Reconciliation commission. ‘God…she was brave.’ That is the only reason we know her story. For me this dress represents all the stories we do not know of all the brave people who fought against apartheid.

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The core values of the South African constitution (which also are represented in the seven pillars outside the museum) are spelled out on the walls of this space: equality, responsibility, democracy, diversity, respect, reconciliation, and freedom.

Any time that you get to spend with Darryl is extremely well spent. (hospitalityafrika.com) The man himself is living history who shares his own stories of growing up under apartheid and how he felt when Mandela became President.

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He is very knowledgeable about all things Johannesburg – art,history, culture, food and the essence of what it means to live here now. He has so much pride in his city. I spent an amazing few days with him and our great driver Dave and came away with an appreciation of how wonderful Johannesburg is.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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Countries That I Used To Know

Countries That I Used To Know

‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. – Mahatma Gandhi

If you are looking for missing countries from the maps of your school days, here is a list of all the names. Countries have split apart, gotten back together, gained/lost independence or just didn’t like their names. How do we understand our place in the world if we don’t know about other places? Americans typically score very low in geographic literacy. What happens in the world is connected to where it happens in the world. We are supposed to be a “global village.” We should know the correct name of our neighbors and be interested in why they changed them.

. Used to Be                                                    Now

Burma                                                             Myanmar

Ceylon                                                            Sri Lanka

Czechoslovakia                                               Czech Republic, Slovakia

Rhodesia                                                         Zimbabwe

Southwest Africa                                              Namibia

French Somaliland                                           Djibouti

Tanganyika and Zanzibar                                 Tanzania

French Sudan                                                  Mali.

Basutoland                                                     Lesotho

Zaire                                                              Democratic Republic of Congo

The Gold Coast                                             Ghana

Dutch Guiana                                                Surinam

East Pakistan                                               Bangladesh

Western Samoa                                            Samoa

East Germany and West Germany               Germany

North Yemen and South Yemen                  Yemen

North Viet Nam and South Viet Nam           Viet Nam

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)       Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan

Yugoslavia                                                  Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia                                       and Montenegro, and Slovenia

Tibet                                                          Xizang Autonomous Region Of China

We can’t afford not to pay attention to the world anymore. We have to change the story.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Some Quotes From Around the World

Some Quotes From Around The World

“The problem with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they are genuine.” Joseph Stalin

I have collected quotes all my life – way before the internet. I had a compilation of napkins, theatre programs, index cards, ripped pieces of papers from newspapers and magazines, hotel stationery, loose-leaf paper, memo pads, notebooks and colored bits of paper – all filled with quotes I had read or heard somewhere. The internet makes it way too easy. I read a book or see a play I like and I look up quotes from the author. I pick a subject I’m interested in and find hundreds of quotes about it. I have a lot more knowledge now but every once in a while I find a folded up piece of paper in an old pair of pants or purse with a quote that touched me when I heard it.

I thought I would share some of my favorites from around the world –  especially for those of you who are not on my quote list. I hope you enjoy them. They are special to me.

“AMERICA

A bit of advice

Given to a young Native American

At the time of his initiation:

As you go the way of life,

You will see a great chasm. Jump.

It is not as wide as you think.” Joseph Campbell

AUSTRIA

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are

princesses who are only waiting to see us act just once, with beauty and

courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence,

something helpless that needs our love.” Rainer Maria  Rilke

CHILE

“Laughter is the language of the soul.” Pablo Neruda

CHINA

“Once upon a time a man whose ax was missing suspected his neighbor’s son. The boy walked like a thief, looked like a thief, and spoke like a thief. But the next day, the man found his ax while digging in the valley and the next time he saw his neighbor’s son, he walked like a child, looked like a child, and spoke like a child.” Lao Tzu

COLOMBIA

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez

CZECH REPUBLIC

“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.” Vaclav Havel

ENGLAND

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” CS Lewis

FRANCE

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.“ Albert Camus

GERMANY

“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony–Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?” Erich Maria Remarque

INDIA

“You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” Mahatma Gandhi

IRAN

‘One day the sun admitted I am just a shadow.

I wish I could show you the infinite incandescence

that has cast my brilliant image.

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness

the outstanding light of your own being,” Hafiz

IRELAND

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” W. B. Yeats

ISRAEL

“Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David’s Tower in Jerusalem. I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. “You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head, there’s an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head.”  I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, “You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.” Yehudah Amichal

ITALY

“There are three classes of people. Those who see. Those who see when shown. Those who do not see.” Leonardo Da Vinci

 JAPAN

“My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon.” Masahide

NETHERLANDS

“Conscience is a man’s compass.” Vincent Van Gogh

RUSSIA

“How can you expect a man who’s warm to understand one who’s cold?’  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

SOUTH AFRICA

“As I walked out the door toward my freedom, I knew that if I did not leave all the anger, hatred and bitterness behind, that I would still be in prison”. Nelson Mandela

SPAIN

“Traveler, there is no path. The path is made by walking.

Traveller, the path is your tracks and nothing more.

By walking you make a path and turning, you look back

At a way you will never tread again.

Traveler, there is no road, only walks in the sea.” Antonio Machado

TIBET

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

TURKEY

“On a day when the wind is perfect,

the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.

Today is such a day.” Rumi

VIET NAM

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Fly safe,

JAZ