Lorre Takes South Africa
On May 22, 2017 I got on a plane without an idea of what my newest life adventure would bring.
After a 12 hour stopover in Cairo (you know I went to see the pyramids!), I went arrived in O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. The purpose of this trip? To do a 3 month internship focusing on human rights law at an organization based in Johannesburg.
Within my first 3 days in country (before even starting work), I left to attend the MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland. This music festival is described as "Swaziland’s internationally acclaimed music & arts festival that celebrates creative expression whilst promoting social responsibility, stimulating the economy and drawing talent and tourists from across Africa and around the world." At this festival, I got to be a part of an experience where we saw both new and old artists that kept the crowd excited and ready to party. Along with the MainStage, there were also smaller tents with live performers and DJs. Additionally, the festival had various vendors selling food, jewelry, clothes, etc. It was an amazing experience to get to know people (its a camping festival...you end up just making friends with strangers) and the perfect way to begin my time here. Following the festival, we stayed a night at Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary. At the sanctuary we got to do an early morning game drive and see a variety of animals in the Sanctuary before heading back to Johannesburg.
A few days after returning to Johannesburg, I started my internship. In my internship, I'm able to work with amazing attorneys working with partner organizations across southern Africa to do human rights litigation work. It has given me the opportunity to work more closely in the field that I hope to work in in the future.
In addition to work, I've been able to go to various events and places in and around Johannesburg. For example, I was able to go to Soweto (home of Nelson and Winnie Mandela) and spend the day on Vilakazi Street. One of the main attractions on Vilakazi (outside of the amazing vendors and performers present), is Mandela house, which is where Nelson Mandela lived before he was arrested by the government during apartheid. I was able to walk through his house and see the bed he slept in, the stove that he and Winnie prepared their food on, and the rooms where they probably entertained guests. In addition to the house being as it was when he was there, there were also pictures added and plaques to give further information about his life. It was an honor to have traced Mandela's footsteps. After leaving Mandela's house, we went to a local spot to indulge in amazing Braai food and good vibes before heading back home.
Some weeks after my visit to Soweto, I took a tour to the Fabric District of Johannesburg. On the tour we walked through the bustling city, seeing sites like Ghandi Square (which is close to where Ghandi had his law office in Johannesburg) and later on to where the different fabric stores are. There we saw a variety of clothes, shoes, bags, and fabric stores. On the tour we got to see different types of Shweshwe (see here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shweshwe) fabrics as well as fabrics from other African countries. After the tour, we went to Little Addis where we partook in an array of Ethiopian foods before heading back to our original meeting place.
Later on in the day, we attended a music festival at Constitution Hill called Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival. This festival "celebrates the youth of 1976 and this year [marked] the 21st anniversary of South Africa's Constitution." (http://bashauhuru.co.za/index.php/about). The festival organizers sought to create "a huge opportunity for young creatives, students and tourists to engage with exhibitions long after the initial launch of the festival."
With each new opportunity I'm afforded, I fall in love with the city even more. Between the amazing new friends I've met, the tons of food I've eaten, and the different places I've explored, I keep wondering how each experience can outdo the last. And they continue to do so.
I look forward to the future experiences I'll have in the rest of my time here.