2019 September South Africa Team, Day 9

Our last day in South Africa we again woke up to animals roaming near our cabin at the game preserve.  What a way to start your day, by watching monkeys playing in the trees!  The humidity is so low here (<20%) that several of our group are having trouble with nosebleeds. It’s supposed to be sunny and 84 today which will be pleasant for our visit to Soweto and the Mandela house. 
Prior to this trip I honestly didn’t know much about South Africa or apartheid, so this day was full of history and shock at the events that took place here only a few years ago, in this far away land. From the highway, we saw many large modern buildings, as well as several encampments of people living in shacks much like Mooiplaas.  
The Soweto community is famous for having 2 Nobel Peace Prize winners who lived on the same street, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. But it is also famous for a masacre of students by police in 1976 when they marched in protest about their schools forcing them to learn “the language of the oppressors”, Africaans. As I understand it, this language is derived from the Dutch language as they were the first whites to settle here and, along with the British, ruled over the African people. The country is about 95% black and only 5% white, yet for many years whites had run the government. 
First we went to the Hector Pieterson Museum. He was a 12 year old boy who was shot on June 16, 1976 in the massacre. He was an innocent bystander, and not even part of the march. The media was very much controlled by the government and only 1 picture from that day was smuggled out of the country. It was of a young man carrying Hector Pieterson’s lifeless body with his tearful sister walking beside them.  This caused a great uprising around the world with other countries finally learning the struggles of the black in South Africa. Other countries stepped in and things began to slowly change in South Africa. That is how Hector Pieterson became known around the world.  The museum itself is full of pictures and videos going back into the 1940s and 50s showing the plight of black South Africans. Outside there is a memorial and an unfinished wall symbolizing the events of that fateful day.  There are bricks with names and dates of death listed carved in them of about 150 students who were killed. But reports say there could’ve been up to 600 killed on that date because so many of the children were undocumented or injured on that date, but died from infection later.  
 There were several people with small tables outside the museum selling hand carved African animals, beaded animals & jewelry,  woven baskets, etc. We stopped and some of us purchased momentos of the trip to bring back with us.  
Then we went the short distance to the Nelson Mandela house. This is where he and his family lived prior to his incarceration. Winnie Mandela continued to live there while he was in prison.   It is a small brick home which is now a museum. A guide told us the story of the Mandela family before we took the tour. He pointed out bullet holes in the walls where the police would shoot at the house while Winnie Mandela was living there as she carried on the fight for black freedom while he was incarcerated. 
We went to lunch just down the street at a buffet that included traditional pap, tripe, and chicken feet, as well as more western foods. Next door to the restaurant is the home of Desmond Tutu. It had a sign outside, but since a family lives there, we could not see much. We walked a bit further with our guide, Antionette, pointing out other areas of interest. There was lots of music with children & native dressed dancers in the street performing for tips. 
Then it was time to head to the airport.  After a little last minute shopping in the airport, we said a tearful goodbye to our team members from Russia & Ukraine. Our flights home and the lines for customs were long, but we finally made it to Kansas City with thoughts of seeing our families and sleeping in our own beds at the forefront of our minds and the people of South Africa forever etched on our hearts. 

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