Campus News

Cape Town Diary: August 10. By Chris Reigeluth, Colby College 03.

Story posted August 10, 2001

This past week in Cape Town marked the completion of our first full month on the African continent. So Far, the time has flown by. For me, the most memorable events of this week were our Arts of Resistance trip to St. George's Cathedral and our first AIDS panel on "The History of AIDS."

Our trip to the cathedral took place on Monday and the focus was the opportunity to view the new West Window. It was interesting to see the window after having read about it over the weekend. What is especially noteworthy about this stained glass window is that one of its main intentions is to act as a memorial for the suffering that went on during the apartheid era. Some of the secular images in the window are of barbed wire, Gandhi, the apartheid dragon, and a white dove. We also read that the central figure in the window is a "black" Jesus. I was especially interested to see such a unique portrayal of the son of God. Upon arriving at the cathedral, however, and seeing the window, it became quite clear to all of us that the Jesus in this window was not black and appeared to be white or maybe coloured.

[Note: Under apartheid, all South Africans were racially classified into one of three categories: white, black (African), or coloured (of mixed decent). The coloured category included major subgroups of Indians and Asians.]

I also found it somewhat troubling that the West Window was crafted by a French painter as opposed to by a local artist. This is also the case with the "Black Madonna" that we saw, which was done by a British sculptor. With such a thriving and talented art industry in South Africa, it does not make sense that St. George's Cathedral felt the need to use foreign artists for a "memorial" to the apartheid era and also for their "Black Madonna." The trip to the cathedral was very worthwhile and led all of us to question some of the controversial practices that still take place in South African institutions today.

On Wednesday, we had our first AIDS Panel for Professor Jim Webb's "History of AIDS" class. The panel went incredibly well and was attended not only by CBB students, but also by many University of Cape Town students as well. The issues focused on the themes of responses to the epidemic in South Africa; arrival, transmission, and dispersion of the disease; consequences (street orphans and poverty); economic repercussions; government involvement (and uninvolvement); and a statistical analysis of the many different spheres of society that the disease has infringed upon. The panel was very informative, and some great discussion resulted from the question and answer session at the end of the evening.

Aside from these two events, the rest of my week has been made up of classes, community service at Langa (I'm working with some students on planning a sports day with a white high school in Pine Lands), Women's Day, squash practice, and getting plane tickets for a spring break trip to Zanzibar at the end of this month. Our time here has been incredible thus far, and it seems like our experiences will only improve as we become more and more immersed in South African society and culture.

-Chris Reigeluth. Colby College 03

Additional information on the Cape Town program is at CBB Cape Town
Other Cape Town Diaries:
Cape Town Diary: July 3. By Julie McGee
Cape Town Diary: July 14. By Julie McGee
Cape Town Diary: July 27. By Kristen M. Heim
Cape Town Diary: July 27. By Rachel Meiklejohn
Cape Town Diary: August 6. By Paul Min
Cape Town Diary: August 6. By Heather Finn.
Cape Town Diary: August 13. By Kathryn Spirer.
Cape Town Diary: August 10. By Philip Drake.

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