January 11 and 12: Safari and Trip Conclusion

Today and yesterday we traveled up to Pilanesberg for an evening safari and a morning safari today and the day after. On the safari, we saw many different animals including elephants, lions, giraffes, wildebeests, bucks, jackles, hippos, zebras and more. We learned different things about each animal. For example, female lions are hunters while male lions are protectors because their manes make them stick out. Hippos are faster than humans. Elephants have the cognitive ability to grieve when one of their own dies. All together it was a great way to wrap up our trip.

This trip to South Africa was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life up to this point. I have been interested in learning for about Nelson Mandela and the social movements in regard to Anti-apartheid for about five years now and I can’t express how incredible it was to experience the culture of the South Africa that came out of that movement today as well as the dark history of the countries past. Apartheid was a dark stain on South Africa’s past, much like the segregation era in America. It was interesting to evaluate how the two movements compare and contrast, as well as how the incarceration of Nelson Mandela and the detainment of Martin Luther King Jr. both contributed to their respective movements. Both established a position of passive disobedience while incarcerated, and both methods worked well as they both brought meaningful social change to their country.

Unlike Dr. King, Nelson Mandela had to spend a much longer time behind bars. Instead of spending brief periods of time incarcerated, he spent 27 years in prison, with 18 of them on Robben Island. He also managed to gain political power as president through the ANC, while king did not. Although Dr. King never gained political power in America, he, like Nelson Mandela, have decreased racial injustice and have made a mark as some of the greatest leaders across the globe in the contemporary era. Neither of them did it alone, as it took many leaders of the ANC and others to help Nelson Mandela succeed throughout his incarceration as it also took many American citizens to protest the unjust laws which Dr. King described in his Birmingham letters.

What I gained mostly from this entire experience was that while South Africa is a much different country than the United States, they are both very similar in how their unjust racial laws were reformed. Not only that, in both countries racial injustice still exists today. Both countries experience an economic gap between black and white people. This economic inequality is major because it leads to huge differences in life expectancy and quality of life. Although both countries have political equality, there is still a long way to go to ensure all people of both countries have completely equal opportunity in all areas of life. Although Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King did many great things for their societies, it is up to the new generation of America as well as the “born free” generation in South Africa to shape the world in the image we wish to see it in the future. Through educating ourselves like we have done on this trip, it hopefully can translate into us making more informed decisions.

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