Campus News

Cape Town Diary: August 20, By Noah Lambie, Bowdoin College 03

Story posted August 24, 2001

It has been a month and a half since we left the States. The time has been full of enlightening lectures, rewarding community service, and plenty of reading and writing. But I find the leisure time outside of all these informative scheduled programs and events the most worthwhile.

Although the family-stay program limits our interaction with UCT students, it has made South African culture accessible to clueless Americans like myself. Hanging out with my family is really the only time that I am immersed in (one aspect) of South African culture. The rest of the time we move through Cape Town in an American bubble. Occasionally we have interacted with locals at pool halls or other night sites, which makes a big difference, but nothing as substantial as nightly dinners and evening activities with Felix and Val and their whole family (who visit quite often).

They have also taken me on many day adventures into different parts of the diverse South African landscape. The city is cornered against the ocean by a 3000 ft. cliff called Table Mountain. Then on the other side of this are the Cape Flats that extend for miles before another set of mountains penetrate the smooth and sandy Flats. There is an area a bit inland from Capetown called the Winelands. Felix and Val showed me many of the ancient wineries in Winelands that have been producing wines for hundreds of years. It was a spiritual experience to talk to them and to taste the flavors of African soil. We were all ready to go to sleep at the end.

On the way back from wine tasting we passed miles and miles of makeshift shacks, usually less than a couple feet apart from each other. During apartheid blacks and coloreds were continually pushed farther and farther from Cape Town, extending into the sandy Cape Flats and further separating blacks from the city. [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.] The effects of this are still obvious today. I have not seen any whites in the townships, and the conditions are still miserable.

Then, we arrived back at their apartment. After passing through the townships I realize how many luxuries Felix and Val have compared to the thousands of unemployed blacks in the townships. They were fortunate to economically survive the appalling apartheid regime.

Noah Lambie, Bowdoin 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 10. By Chris Reigeluth.
Cape Town Diary: August 13. By Kathryn Spirer.
Cape Town Diary: August 15. By Philip Drake.
Cape Town Diary: August 20. By Dana Kramer.
Cape Town Diary: August 24. By Brendan Ferriter.
Cape Town Diary: August 27. By Laura Bilodeau
Cape Town Diary: August 27. By Katie Spirer.

« Back | Campus News | Academic Spotlight | | Subscribe to Bowdoin News by Email