Apartheid and the Museum that will never let us forget.

I’ll start with a little background for this as I don’t want to assume people know about the history of South Africa. I mean, I only learnt a lot of this because I went here. A lot of this happened before my time but I obviously know the big-name Nelson Mandela, but there is so much to know about how this disgraceful act that was allowed to happen.

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While Europe was recovering from WWII and the segregation and massacre of thousands of Jews, South Africa was moving in the opposite direction. Apartheid, meaning “apartness” in Afrikanns, was a political rule of segregation from 1948-1990. This was put into place by the minority white rule, who made up something like 20% of the population. Throughout the history of S.A, Dutch colonisers were enforcing rules of segregation, which was then continued by the British. By the time all the colonies were bought back together to create the Union of South Africa, there were nearly 300 of these “homelands”.

It was in 1948 that Dr D. F Malan, led the Nation Party in the first political campaigned that was based on the rascal promotion of white unity. They swept into office winning 80 seats, while the United Party won 64. This new government started to bring in new rules to “ensure the survival of the white race” and to separate different races on all levels, Blacks, Coloureds and Whites. One of the first Acts passed was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act in 1949 – the banning of marriage between Europeans and Non-Europeans, not long after this, it was extended to ban sexual intercourse as well. By 1950, Malan’s government passed the Population Registration Act which officially categorised every race in South Africa, which forced people to carry race cards (sound familiar?). In 1952, if you were caught without your reference book you were fined or imprisoned. As a sign of rebellion, many people didn’t carry them. This caused fights between the police and civilians. This was life in South Africa. People also seem to think that life in S.A changed when Mandela was released from prison in 1990. How very wrong, I the early 1990s S.A was on the brink. Riots now were between whites and blacks and blacks and blacks. People were turning on each other and the use of the “necklace” (death by tire fire) was used on those thought to be informants with the police. This just shows the brutality of which people would go to for change.

Apartheid formally ended in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela – the first black president of South Africa. This was the first election which allowed the participation of ALL adult voters, regardless of colour.

The Apartheid Museum which is on the outskirts of Johannesburg has all this information and so much more. On arrival you buy your ticket, which is just plain white and then on the black you are given a race, you are either “White” or “No-White”.  You must then use the entrance to the museum indicated on the ticket. This gives you just the smallest of idea what it was like during the apartheid. It costs R95 for an adult, which is about a fiver. Not much really! According to the museum if takes about 2 hours to go around, I however took about 4! I got taken in by the horror of what happened. There are so many in-depth signs to read, you have the choice of an overview on the black panels or grey which is more in-depth. They start from the Boer Wars and go up to and include the election of Nelson Mandela.

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For me, the hardest part to see was the student massacre in Soweto. Beginning on the morning of 16th June 1976, due to the introduction of Afrikaans as the language used to teach in. A hundred and seventy-six pupil were killed, though some estimate up to seven hundred! These were children! CHILDREN. It broke my heart to see the images, to watch the videos, to read the accounts. Throughout the museum there are moments like this. These were people’s lives, ruined by a few mad people in power.

This museum reminds as how we can never forget that lives were lost, on both fronts. Public executions were a norm, shown by the hanging ropes in a single room. Solitary confinement was a regular punishment. The ANC’s history and involvement in the anti-apartheid movement is a big part of the museum for obvious reasons.

While we were there Nelson Mandela exhibition was on. It was fascinating to read about his life. So much I didn’t know, you really only here about his years on Robben Island then his presidency. But there was so much more to his life.

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As I write this, I get so angry, and upset. How can we have let this happen again? I mean we as a World, keep letting this happen, time and time again. Through out history this is happening, and every time we say “no we will learn from this”, while there is another country enforcing ridiculous rules against race or sex. You don’t have to look far these days to find out that this is still happening, just look at that all the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

 

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Safari with Chasin’ Africa

In mid-April, my family and I went to the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Safari has been something I have always wanted to do. I love elephants, to the point that I shake when I see them. I get so nervous and excited all at once. I think they are just the most majestic animal, so wise and massive and if you look into their eyes you can see into their souls… okay, I digressed a little then. OBSESSED is the word you are looking for. But basically, I’ve always wanted to see them in the wild, so a safari has always been one of the top things I want to do.

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The Kruger National Park is situated in the most North East of South Africa, bordering Mozambique’s national park, Limpopo. They have a partial fence between the two, most of it has been taken down to encourage natural migration of the animals. It is 19,485km², making it the largest game reserve in South Africa. It was originally established in 1898 by Paul Kruger, the President of Transvaal as the Sabie Game Reserve. Later in 1927, it merged with Shinwedzi Game Reserve, and became the Kruger National Park.

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We were collected from our lodge by Donald, who is one of the owners of Chasin’ Africa at 5.20am – an early start but 100% worth it. They get you in before the gates open so the park is quieter and you don’t have to queue to do all of the fun paper work. Something you don’t really think about when on safari, but everyone has to go through the same gates and have the same checks which can take a while to do. We were off and through the gates by 5.50am. Only 10 minutes before the rest of the crowd, but this really was our own fault as we weren’t the fastest at leaving the lodge, ooops! Either way though, we were in! We were also incredibly lucky in the fact that there was nine of us, the exact number that fit in their trucks! So it felt more like a private tour. We were also provided with blankets to snuggle under as it was a little chilly (okay not UK chilly but still!) that early in the morning which was great.

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Donald was AMAZING! I must admit, I was mostly interested in the mammals that live in the park – elephants, cheetahs, lions etc but he got us looking at all the birds, the plants and the bugs. All these animals and foliage help make up a remarkable eco system. It’s easy to forget that even the smallest of creatures make a massive difference to the Kruger. It also helped that when we didn’t recognise a bird he put it in context by using the Lion King – red-billed hornbill aka Zazu! It was just brilliant that he knew the best way to get people to take note of the smaller, but just as important, animals. From then on, we looked at so many different birds – fish eagle, lilac breasted roller, saddle billed stork. It was great to see so many different animals up close, that otherwise I would never have known about. His knowledge and professionalism definitely made the trip, it just made those stretches where we didn’t see much just as great as when we save the wildlife. I’ve learnt so much from him and loved every second of it. Though gutted we didn’t get to ask any questions that stumped him, next time!

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The skill of Donald also meant we got to see the Big Five in one day. An old hunting term referring to those animals most dangerous to hunt ie they kill the hunters – Lions, Rhinos, Elephants, Leopards and Cape Buffalo. It was pure magic seeing them all. Obviously, elephants were my favourite, they always were going to be, but seeing the others (and the cubs of the lions and buffalo) was extraordinary. I never really believed we would see them all. Apparently if you drove every road in the Kruger and could see 500m either side of the road you would still only see 5% of park! Isn’t that just crazy!! You then realise how fortunate you are to see ANY animals.

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The lunch available in the park is fairly average – sandwiches, pies etc, almost what you were expect in an airport. I advise you take your own, and DO NOT forget water! Super important! And mozzy spray for the sunrise and sunset part of your dive, you don’t want to be eat alive. Would take away from the joys of the Kruger if you are scratching the whole time.

We were out in the park for 12 hours! Initially supposed to be dropped back off at our accommodation at 4.30pm but Donald gave us more time so that we could we a Leopard and Lion cubs right at the end. We ended up leaving at 6.30pm!!

Hopefully I will one day be returning to the Kruger and if I do I will definitely be booking another trip with Chasin’ Africa, and I really think you should to.

Have you been to the Kruger before? Would you love to? What would be your favourite animal to see?

 

Cape Town – My Top Things To Do 

At the beginning of April I was lucky enough to go to Cape Town! We were there for five days and everyday was JAM BACKED! It was hard to pick a few top things but here they are…

Table Mountain 

There are lots of different routes for you to choose from, depending on how long you wish to take and your fitness pick accordingly . We took the Platteklip Gorge route, right around the corner from the cable cars. It’s hard work, but the views you get make it worth it. In total it took us about 2 hrs. We range in fitness but I would say we are all average or above. We never rushed and did take loads of water breaks! That’s one thing you need to make sure you have lots of- WATER. This hike is said to be the one that gets the most sunshine! Try to avoid doing it in the midday sun (something we failed at!). Take your time up at the top, the views are incredible. There is a place you can get more water, food and ice cream. Plus all the other facilities you need after a long walk. There is also a gondola you can take up and down. We had planned to take it down but some one had set four fires along the mountain so it was closed. For some crazy reason we decided rather than waiting we would walk back down. Something my legs regretted for the next four days! Try to pick your timings when you go up – you’ll want a clear day though this can sometimes be unpredictable. If you are in Cape Town for a few days try to stay flexible  so you can pick the best time to climb up.

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Boulders Beach 

Penguins, penguins and MORE penguins! What is not to love. It costs R65 to get in, but this can be used at any of the 3 entrances so you get to see as many penguins as you want. The first gate we went through went onto the beach. Here you can actually, paddle/swim with the penguins. But remember these are wild animals. They will bite and they do get stressed. Try to keep a safe distance and NEVER cut off a penguin from his buddy. It’s not fair on them, they are only little! Also, whatever you take with you make sure you take away, think plastic bags/bottles and wrappers. It’s hard when you get excited to remember these things but it’s better for everyone if you do. The second entrance we went into takes you along the boardwalk. It takes you right up to the beach where (during April) you can see the baby penguins as well as ones sitting on their eggs. It’s an amazing site! You’ll see nature at it’s best. I loved just watching them all. I could have stayed for hours but the entrances close at 5pm during April and varies throughout the year so make sure you get your timings right.

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V&A Waterfront 

So we actually ended up here for the day as our tour for Robben Island was cancelled due to poor visibility . Apparently this is quiet common. Something you should remember when you book your tickets. We were all gutted that we couldn’t go but it means we will be back! But as we couldn’t make it we did Jerry 1, which is only small but still moving. This is actually the original site where people were taken before they were taken to Robben Island. It’s full of letters and people’s requests to see loved ones on the island. Really powerful stuff.

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The waterfront has a fair amount to do. We started with breakfast at the V&A Food Market. Literally heaven. Has something for everyone and seating where you can all reconvene when you’ve picked your food! Plus it’s cheap! A win win in my world! I personally loved the coffee from the Coffee Power Station. And if you bring your reusable cup coffee only costs R20!

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Just behind this is the Water Shed – a huge hall filled with craft bits. There was some lovely stuff here from cushions to clothing to jewellery. You’ll definitely be able pick up some nice items for people or something for yourself of course.

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If you enjoy your rugby the Springbok Experience is a must! You start with fun games where you try to get on the team (remember those sore legs from our hike… This did not help). But we had fun looking silly and laughing the whole time. You then move on to learn about the history of the sport in South Africa. With the Apartheid being such a prominent part of the sports history it’s incredibly interesting to see the changes it went through. The most moving part is South Africa beating the New Zealand favourites in the 1995 World Cup and the handing over of the cup by President Mandela to Peinaar, the Springbok captain. The embrace and smiles reverberated through all of South Africa. An incredibly moving piece of history. Oh and if you’re an adult you get a free beer with your ticket to have down on the Water front she you’re done.

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If your lucky or bold enough like my sister and brother-in-law were try to get up to the rooftop bar at the top of the Silo Hotel. The views are incredible! The perfect place for an afternoon drink in the sun.

Wine Region – Franschhoek and Paarl

This is the perfect day out … wine and (hopefully) sunshine. There are so many different vineyards you can choose from. As we had locals taking us round, we let them pick as they definitely know what they are doing. We started at the Haute Cabrière vineyard in Franschhoek, where for about £3 you get a tour, wine tasting for 4 wines (red, whites and sparkling!) And you get so see them open a bottle in the old French style, Sabrage, they cut the top off with a sword. It’s great. Plus the view is pretty spectacular.

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Once you are done here head into the town. It’s fill of small shops and there is a great little coffee shop, The Hoek, where I would recommend you get an afrogatto from. It’s incredibly refreshing after all the wine. Plus gives you a little boost to carry on.

A little further out is the Spice Route in Paarl. A vineyard with so much more… They pride themselves on having other small independent business all in one place, where neither two are the same! Here you can do more wine tasting, beer tasting at CBC brewer or even ice cream tasting!

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I would love to go back soon, I feel like we only scratched the surface of this amazing city. Have you been to Cape Town? What was your favourite thing or things to do? 

I’m BACK – and I’ve made PLANS!

I’m not going to go into why I stop posted, I just did. But I’ve taken a step back and reminded myself why I enjoyed doing this so much! My first post is on 2018’s plans! I am so excited, and I hope to share my experiences with you all.

2018’s trips started a bit rocky thanks to the “Beast from the East” which forced Dublin airport to close and my trip to Budapest to be cancelled. I’m no longer dwelling on that as it’s made me become more focused on all the other things I have planned.

March:

Ireland – Galway and the Cliffs of Moher

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Image: www.cliffsofmoher.ie

England – London (though technically this is where the families are, I have planned a “touristy” trip to do all the things I miss!)

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Image: mine 🙂

April:

South Africa – Cape Town, Kruger, Johannesburg

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Image: my dad’s!

May:

Italy – Rome, Ancona

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Image: www.cntraveler.com

June:

Denmark – Copenhagen (MAYBE!)

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Image: @lyoung_ Instagram

July:

London – LoveBox (festival!)

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Image: loveboxfestival.com

August:

Austria – Vienna

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Image: www.wien.info/

Hungary – Budapest, Sziget (festival!)

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Image: budapest.com

September:

Ireland – Electric Picnic (festival!)

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Image: flourandflavour.wordpress

 

It’s now looking like a rather packed year, and I wonder why I am strapped for cash this month when I look at how much I’ve booked! But life is for the living, and

I CAN NOT WAIT!

Do you have any tips for these places? Where to eat? What to see… or not see! I want to hear all about it!