“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (Proust)
This voyage of discovery started actually a long time ago… It has been several years since we established a link with this wonderful land and all it means, getting small amounts of it every time that our paths crossed. I had the immense luck of crossing my way with four beautiful souls that gave me a first contact with what South Africa means this summer when we shared this project called “Intercooltour”. However, and against all expectations, I got the opportunity of seeing with my eyes all that I had been told in summer, all the history, all the music, all the beautiful sounds and views that give meaning to the words South Africa…
After a not such a short flight J we arrived to Johannesburg where we were picked up by our “tourist guides” (Sipho and Kabelo). We enjoyed a delicious and typical South African dinner and we got to meet the people who were hosting us in Lebo Backpackers, located in Soweto.
The first day of program we visited the Heritage Cultural Centre in Sophiatown where the great Mbali, the museum guide, explained to us in depth how the Apartheid started. For us, this term did not have such a powerful meaning before but definitely it has now because we could see with our own eyes all the spots where this horror took part. Sophiatown was the arty spot in Johannesburg at the time of the Apartheid and it is, little by little coming back to its origins. We visited a local café, where many exhibitions, poetry slams and concerts take part and I personally loved that there was such a spot in the area. That day was in South Africa the Reconciliation Day and we enjoyed a spontaneous concert in the street as well because all the people were celebrating this moment. Finally, we went to Freedom Square, where the supremacy of white government was finally opposed by a multiracial community in a historical moment for the country.
The second day of the program was for me definitely the best and where I most experienced the so well known “cultural shock”. We went to visit Diepsloot, an enormous urban area in the outskirts of Soweto where a group of volunteers develop what for me was the greatest project that we visited: they take youngsters out of the streets by using sports, rap music, poetry, painting… as the integration method. After visiting Diepsloot we went to Sandton, the “white city”. Sandton is exactly 25 minutes by car from Diepsloot but the distance in every sense looks way bigger. While in Diepsloot people struggle to survive with their small family businesses, Sandton is full of shiny lights, shopping malls and expensive cars. Not a critic here. Just the realization that, unfortunately, the differences are just one step away from each other and it is in our hands to make a change possible.
Next day we visited the Goethe Institut in Joburg where a local photographer and artist, Dean Hutton was exposing a wonderful exhibition entitled “In Search of an Authentic Queer”. There, we had the chance to have an inspiring discussion with her about the concept of identity, what does the term queer mean, the inspiration behind the exhibition etc… Afterwards, we went to Rosebank local market to buy some souvenirs and afterwards to do a beads workshop with a local handcraft maker, Noxy, who showed us as well the youth centre.
We also had the opportunity to watch a theater, get to know the Sophia Town Crew, to plan future projects, exchange ideas.
We thank for everybody who made possible this exchange!