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Robben Island

January 18, 2010

Robben Island. Home to many ANC political blacks, and also home to Nelson Mandela’s prison. Robben Island is a prison. During Apartheid, black people – some inocent, some guilty went to robben Island. The prison itself was built by the first prisoners who came to Robben Island in 1962. Only one white prisoner went there. During the day prisoners worked in the lime stone quarreys in any conditions.

Yesterday I went to Robben Island. We got taken around with a guide because it is possible to get lost. We drove to the limestone quarreys where we heard about how prisoners for 10 hours of the day had to work in the quarreys either in freezing cold rain or very dry heat. When they wanted to go to the bathroom they went into a cave because there were no bathrooms for the prisoners on the island and even in their cells they did not have a bathroom. They had a bucket.

It is 7 to 11 kl to shore. There were attempts of trying to escape by swimmig or the ocassional raft. No one ever made it.  We arrived at the prison where we were taken around by an ex-prisoner. His name was Benjaman Tao. We first went into a cell that was about 40 square ft long and 15 square ft wide and they used to squeeze 40 people inside. This section of the prison which held many more of these rooms was called section B.   People in section B got 20 rand each week where they could by things like extra food and things to help there hygiene. We then went to a court yard where prisoners who were in section C stayed in part of the daytime while they hammerd rocks. The other part was spent in the quarreys. This is the section that Nelson Mandela was in. Section C was not allowed to talk. They only got 10 rand a week and stayed in cells smaller than my dad. Also the prisoners called the prison Robben Island University because they learned so much from each other. They passed news papers back and forth when they went to the bathroom in the cave. They would leave a newspaper or a note something like that. Finally we came to Nelson Mandela’s cell. Which as I said before was smaller than my dad. By the time Mandela came out of prison he was able to  make a garden and they had put up tennis courts.

I also want to tell about how Benjaman got into jail. He was protesting during the 76 riots when his girlfriend got shot dead. He fled South Africa and went to Angola and East Germany along with many others. They trained to fight and one day while he was on a mission he got caught and was sentenced to high treason.

Robben Island was a very interesting and emotional experience for me. Please leave comments on how you feel about it.

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Apartheid/Nelson Mandela/Hector Pieterson

January 13, 2010

On the 16 of June 1976 Hector Pieterson and so many other school students protested about the education they got, it was called Bantu education and was taught in Afrikaans – not their spoken language. They marched through the streets of Soweto which stands for South Western Townships with signs like : To Hell with Afrikaans and so many more. Then the police came out of nowhere and ruptured the protest with tear gas and gun fire. Hector Pieterson was shot and was the first to die. He was twelve. At the Hector Pieterson museum, I listened to one of Hector’s friends  say: ” I was next to him when he died, a police man shot him and then aimed his gun at his head again just to make it worse even though he was dead but his sister stood in front of him and luckily she did not die. ”  Students fled as the police continued to throw tear gas and shoot their guns. What a horrible way to stop a protest.

I went to the Hector Pieterson museum today  – that is where I learnt all of this. There is a line of grass outside the museum where Hector Pieterson died. It is there as a memorial. Just imagine a 12 year old getting arrested and 82  year olds getting arrested – it was absolutely horrible.

After that we went to Nelson Mandela’s house on Vilikazi Street in Soweto. It was amazing to see his house. It is very small and made from red bricks and a metal roof. Some of the furniture he used was still in the house. I will show you some pictures but before that I want to tell you about a church. The ANC who was against Apartheid held meetings in a church called Regina Mundi. Inside you can see bullet holes from where police men shot. (see photo’s). The alter was cracked from a police man hitting it with his rifle during apartheid. I will also show you pictures off this.

Can’t wait to see everybody

Felix

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Cricket

January 10, 2010

Last Wednesday  I went to a cricket game at Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg. Cricket came to South Africa when England took over. Cricket started in England in the midieval times and has continued to this day. The cricket game that I went to was like minor league baseball games. There is a grass area where you can play a small cricket game or just throw the ball around. I can’t tell you the rules on the blog because it would take me hours to tell you everything.

There is one thing that you can connect between Apartheid and cricket. During Apartheid, Black people were not able to play sport in South Africa so it was cool to go to a cricket game and see Black people playing. Also in 1970 South Africa was suspended by the International cricket association because of apartheid and blacks not being able to play on a national cricket team. In 1991 the South African cricket team was allowed to play in the championships again and from then on black people could play cricket.

The game started – it was the Lions against the Eagles. The Eagles batted first, they got 299 runs. Then our team, the Lions batted and got 300 runs. I know you’re thinking “Wow what a close game but trust me if you knew the rules you would know that it wasn’t a close game.” I can’t wait to tell you guys the rules and everything.

Can’t wait to see you all.

Felix

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Umtata/Mthatha

January 7, 2010

While we were in Maclear we went to a small city called Mthatha. During the Apartheid some of the whites did not let the blacks call Mthatha Mthatha its Xhosa name. They called it Umtata. Also the people that live there were forced to live there. Since the people did not have enough land for their cattle to graze on, the land started cracking because the goverment made that land a seperate country. They called it the Transkei which was a homeland.

When we got there we went to lunch at Wimpys which is a Mcdonalds South Africanized. We then walked around Mthatha and  went to a grocery store. And then we went to the Mthatha cemetary. We went there because my mom wanted to see if the Jews buried there were all from the same place in Lithuania. It did not show on there graves where they came from. But we saw something else that was saddening. We saw a memorial for five kids that died on the same day. It was six months before the first free election and the Apartheid goverment thought that in that area there were dangoras wepons and the police came in and killed the five kids who were between  17 and 14. we went home and looked it up and thats exactly what we found. They had all died on Ocatober 8 1993. Please look at these pictures of mthatha not the graves or the memorial.

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Herding Cattle

January 6, 2010

South African whites often do not know much about the ways of black and Xhosa people because during the Apartheid they were told not to pay any attention to blacks.  But I got to have an amazing experience. I asked my mom if I could help herd cattle 37 kilometers(20 miles) to a diffrent place.But I also got to sleep with the Xhosa people and have there dinner. Maas. Maas is cornmeal with sour milk so really I did not have any dinner. The next morning I had rolls for breakfast. I also had milk straight from the cow. They milk the cow by letting the calf drink the first part of the milk because it has the most protein. and then they milk it. Better than dinner.   To prepare we had to make red flags that attract the cows and warn oncoming cars not to run into the cows. We set off and I got tired very quickly so for the rest of the 10 miles that I did I got to ride a horse. Halfway through our journey my mom picked me up I was happy but I knew how tired every body else must be because instead of herding one cow they had to herd three because one cow alone would get scared. So I felt bad that they coudnt jump in the car and come with us. I had had an amazing experience.

Also I forgot to tell you about how when I helped out with some cattle at a farm called Tenkop and I learned that when a cattle is ready to be part of the main herd they cut off a little bit of the cows’ ears. See pictures below of these events and also of a cow’s or a bull’s horn. Also I counted cattle where the cows run out into a field to graze and meantime you count how many there are.

see ya

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Aliwal North

January 6, 2010

On our way to Maclear( a small rural town that we have Xhosa black friends in and relatives) we stopped in Aliwal North. We went to a grocery store there was a little 4 year old boy who asked us for food. We gave him a bag of nuts and another lady gave him a loaf of bread. That was dinner for a family of six. This shows what Apartheid did to blacks. When we left we saw complete poverty,like these run down homes.