This week has flown by…it’s hard to believe that it is already Friday. For the most part, I have been pretty busy with work researching the different tourism plans for Cape Town for next summer’s World Cup. To augment this data, I have also made contact with several German museums. Since Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006 and since the country, like SA, has a painful and contested history, I think that any advice or perspective museums there can offer will be very interesting in helping us to think through the District Six visitor experience and how it can be adapted for 2010. In addition to my own research, I was able to attend an oral history seminar for the 10 or so museum staff members. I really enjoyed it because it gave me the opportunity to hear first-hand about the role of oral history in crafting some of the museum’s current exhibits.
Outside of work, things are going well. A week ago, one of the girls who lives in my house (and goes to Duke) saw another girl at the gym wearing Duke shorts. They struck up a conversation, and it turns out that the girl (her name is Mel) graduated from Duke Divinity School in 2008 and has been working in one of the townships outside of Cape Town for a year now. What a small world! Last night, us Dukies went out to dinner. Aside from a nice meal, we also received an invitation to attend Mel’s church this Sunday. I am really looking forward to the experience of an African church service…I will keep you posted on how it turns out.
Wednesday was the opening of Parliament and the State of the Nation address by newly-elected South African President Jacob Zuma, which closed off many of the streets of downtown Cape Town and filled them with uniformed soldiers. Before the address, which took place in the Parliament Building, Zuma and other officials drove through a parade route accompanied by bagpipers, marching bands, and mounted military officials. It was so cool to be able to walk a few blocks from work and witness such a special occasion. Seeing all of the soldiers lining the streets standing at attention to greet their democratically elected president was especially moving, since the military for so many years played a huge role in brutally crushing anti-apartheid resistance and reinforcing the policies of the racist National Party. Despite the persistent poverty and political corruption, it is truly amazing to think about how far this country has come in the fifteen years since democracy.
On a side note, this past week I booked a flight to Pietermaritzburg, small city just outside of Durban that I spent a month in last summer. I will be traveling there the weekend of June 26 with this year’s Duke Engage in South Africa students (they arrive in Cape Town this Sunday). I am looking forward to seeing some old friends again and enjoying the beautiful rolling hills of the province of KwaZulu Natal. And let’s be honest, the delicious breakfast at the Aberfeldy Bed and Breakfast is high up on the list too!