Mini Travel Stories
"The door is always open," said Haseem. Haseem is a groundskeeper at Kennemeyer Primary School located in the Grassy Park area in Cape Town, South Africa. He is an avid Liverpool Football Club (F.C.) fan and knows much about the area. He stopped to say that "the area is okay." Located in the Cape Flats, Grassy Park is primarily a Cape coloured area. The term coloured, although seeming to be quite a controversial word in much of the world is commonplace in South Africa. The name is a formal racial group throughout South Africa that represents those citizens that can link their heritage to the former slaves that were forced over from East Asia, India and Indonesia during the colonization of the country. The coloured person, today, in South Africa is anyone who can link themselves to one or all of these ethnic groups. It is also someone who may have a mixed ethnic background that includes one of the native black South African tribes. For whatever reason it is known and said that the coloured communities throughout Cape Town are widely riddled with gangsterism and gang violence. This includes issues of alcoholism, drug violence and theft. However, Haseem said that it is the surrounding areas of the primary school, like Lavender Hill and Lotus River that have a harder time with safety rather than the immediate Grassy Park area. Hassem said that it is primarily gangsterism that troubles the Lavender Hill and Lotus River communities. Although the school's area is somewhat safer, the school children do face problems. Most of them come to the campus after having to battle issues at their homes. "It is because of their parents," said Haseem. According to Haseem, of the children who do fall into trouble at Kennemeyer, many of them are coming from homes where alcoholism and drug problems exist. He said that the students see what their parents do and they do it as well. Following suit of their parents the children start developing alcohol and drug related habits at a young age. It causes the children to underperform at Kennemeyer and some eventually dropout in the seventh, sixth, and even fifth grade. This is where young learners will start to follow down a tumultuous and rocky path in their lives. Some will follow into joining local gangs or lead a harder life with less opportunity due to their lack of formal education. Even though some students are facing tremendous hardship at home, whether fueled by gangsterism or not, Kennemeyer is a well supported school and performs well. Kennemeyer has implemented quality educators into the teaching force, positive curriculum and a variety of extracurricular education opportunities for students to participate in after school. What is not a surprise is that students in these areas of Cape Town are not uncommonly faced with these types of problems and hindrances to their education. The many issues in the surround communities or at-home are stunting on the majority of the primary schools throughout the city.
Sydney stands outside the old training center in the township of Khayelitsha with newspapers in hand for distribution in is community. He asks for his picture to be made in what seems to be a call for someone of the outside world to know that he exists. Khayelitsha is the largest township in South Africa. It is located opposite Table Bay in the Cape Flats and runs to the coast of False Bay. Primarily a black South African and Xhosa community, Khayelitsha is located about 35 kilometers East of the Central Business District (CBD) in Cape Town. The paper that Sydney holds is the Vukani. A free newspaper publication that focuses on primarily the black South African townships of Khayelitsha, Langa, Nyanga, and Gugulethu. As a free publication, the paper allows for the circulation of news stories throughout these communities no matter the financial status of the resident. Like Sydney, many people gather outside of the training center to socialize, participate in small business and street vending, or stop in at the Xhosa restaurant that is located there. The training center is also home to a variety of services offered to the community that provide vocational skills training.
Dean is one of several self-taught seal trainers in Hout Bay, located about 20 kilometers outside of central Cape Town. Due to the large disparities between race and socioeconomic opportunity found in Cape Town and the larger post-Apartheid South Africa, many low-income earners have developed creative strategies to form small-profit businesses for themselves. These informal business endeavors have given underrepresented South Africans the building blocks to begin filling in the poverty gap themselves. For a small fee of 10 Rand, Dean and his trusty business partner Bubbles allow visitors and tourist the chance for a possible once in a lifetime photo op. In this, guest of Hout Bay are intrigued, indulged, and delighted by the uncommon relationship that the seaside duo have with one another. This symbiotic relationship seems to have been formed out of respect, perhaps some level of love and mutual gain; Dean receives the income he needs and Bubbles -a days worth of fish. Dean and Bubbles are one pair of the many seal and human teams that can be found throughout the coastal marinas of Cape Town. The great benefit of witnessing the coming together of man and beast is realization of the willingness to live, and that is more than merely surviving. Trumped by great need, the two come together forming a great bond in an effort to undoubtedly help one another. This rare and authentic animal and human interaction serves as a great reminder of what life is about in the simplest terms: giving yourself to others, receiving help in return, and forming steadfast relationships out of love and mutual respect. *Bubbles is a Cape Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus), also known as a Brown Fur Seal. This is a common species of marine mammal found through the Western Cape and southern Africa. Males tend to grow much larger than females, weighing 200 to 350 kilograms and females ranging from 75 to 120 kilograms. Males have an average size of 2.3 meters and females come in at an average of 1.8 meters in length. In the wild the average lifespan for the Cape Fur Seal is 18 years, in captivity that duration extends to 25 years.
Noor Ebrahim wakes up every morning at 4 AM to begin his day. He now, at 72, gives tours at the District Six museum in downtown Cape Town. His name means light in Arabic and he was once a member of the recording trio, Crescendo. According to his book, Noor's Story: My Life in District Six, the area was given its name because in 1867 it was the sixth municipal district in Cape Town. In its beginning it was home to freed slaves, immigrants, laborers, merchants, and artisans. Always known historically as a mixed community, the district would become home to artists, politicians, businessmen, musicians, writers, teachers, sheikhs, priests, gangsters, athletes, stay-at-home mothers and thriving children. On February 11, 1966 during the apartheid government the area was declared a whites only district. It took nine years from that day for the government's decision to affect Noor and his family in 1975. In his book, Noor recalls the first bulldozers demolishing buildings and homes on Williams, Stone and Caledon Street. While on tour Noor said, "The day they demolished their home, I watched them." Over 60,000 inhabitants of the District were forcibly removed to the Cape Flats by 1982. This would be known as one of the most tragic human rights violations during the apartheid era. - Noor was 32 when he was displaced from the District. A lesser know fact is that the first residents to be forced out were black South Africans in 1901. In what used to be the old Methodist church in District Six, the museum opened its doors in December 1994. Now, the museum is opened six days-a-week retelling the stories of the lives that flourished in this once vibrant community and how they were impacted on that awful day in 1966. "We still have a very long way to go," said Noor as he commented on the progress that has been made to reintegrate the city of Cape Town. He tells visitors not to ever be afraid of talking about the government or political leaders, because "we pay their salaries." Noor emphasized the importance of placing pressure on political leaders so that positive change is made. "You are a human being in my eye. You are a person." - Noor Ebrahim