Today was another exciting day in Cape Town. But before we traveled anywhere, we had a unique discussion about authenticity and what it means to have an authentic experience on this trip. For me personally, I was looking for authenticity specifically in regards to Nelson Mandela’s incarceration and the effects of what happened after it. After our discussion, I thought back to our trip to Robben Island right before the New Year and I couldn’t help but think about how authentic it truly was considering the fact that our tour guide was a former political prisoner on Robben Island. Nelson Mandela also embraced authenticity and refused to give up hope on his dream of building a democratic South Africa in a post-apartheid era. His authenticity in fact is what led him to the Nobel Prize in 1993.
Following our group discussion, we went into the city to shop for a bit. Throughout that period of time, we listened to traditional South African music which helped enrich the cultural experience of this trip.
We had originally planned to go to Table Mountain today, however, due to the high winds, we had to cancel that plan. Instead of going to table mountain as planned, we instead went straight to District 6 after shopping and watched the Cape Town Street Parade. Although the parade went from District 6 all the way to Bo Kapp, we decided to stay in District 6 while we were watching the parade.
The parade included troupes registered with minstrel associations such as the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association (KKKA) and Cape Town Minstrel Canival Association (CTMCA). CTMCA had challenged KKKA and the City of Cape Town for the right to hold events at the Athlone Stadium. The city was in factor of KKKA and granted them this right for the parade.
What I found most interesting about the parade was the sense of pride that South Africans have for their nation. There were flags from Brazil, New Zealand, even the United States; but by far there were more South African flags in the air than any other nation represented at this event. It was really cool to see that despite the many differences in culture among South Africans, they were all able to unite for the Cape Town Street Parade.
There is one major reason that could potentially be the reason for this incredible united spirit among South Africans. During South Africa’s colonization by the Dutch, South Africans were not relieved of their duties to their slave owners on New Year’s day. In fact, they had to work because of the fact that it was a major holiday. During these times, the slave owners would give South Africans the following day off. For this reason, South Africa continues to hold their New Years parades in Cape Town on January 2 every year. It seems that the worst of situations among people of any nation seems to bring out the greatest resiliency within the human spirit. This case is no exception to South Africans. The citizens of the country refuse to forget their past, but also look forward to their future. After all, it is the New Year, and with the New Year brings new opportunity for success!
This resiliency was a principle that Nelson Mandela was successful at portraying, and it is seemingly a guiding principle to keeping his authenticity as described earlier in this post. Both of these qualities combined helped Mandela through his incarceration and also rubbed off on the country that he helped shape into what it is today.