Johannesburg, South Africa


Arriving in Johannesburg, August 7, 2022

I came to Johannesburg yesterday and was surprised at how quickly it grew dark. I had forgotten that South Africa was in the southern hemisphere and that the winters are the northern hemisphere’s summers and vice versa. So it took me a moment to realize why it was so dark at only 5 o’clock. I went to a restaurant called Hells kitchen, which was delicious, and I would especially recommend their nachos. I am staying in a hostel, which I find very enjoyable. This morning I had a delightful cheese and egg omelet, and I was off to start the day. I first walked around a little and eventually ended up at a coffee shop where I got some hot cocoa, and then I went to church at Cornerstone Church. The people at Cornerstone Church were amiable, and I especially loved how they constructed songs out of 1 to 2 verses or phrases and just sang them repeatedly; it was magical. After church, I had lunch at a restaurant at the Four Seasons for my mom’s birthday. After that, I walked towards the mall but decided to return to the hostel, as I was exhausted due to jet lag.

Visiting South Africa’s Military Museum and the Holocaust & Genocide Museum, August 8, 2022

Today I first went to The South African Military Museum. There I learned about the different planes and armored vehicles used in WWII. Later I got to climb into a couple of old tanks and fighter planes. After I left the military museum, I went to Issy’s Coffee for lunch, where I had tuna and avocado. After lunch, I went to the Holocaust & Genocide Centre next door, where I learned about the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. I found it very sad that over 800,000 people were killed in 100 days, which is not taught in schools. After that experience, I listened to Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela for 30 minutes and departed for a class on how to make Kaftans. After making Kaftans, I went to a restaurant called Marble, which was delicious.

Constitution Hill and Soweto Township, August 9, 2022

Today I went to Constitution Hill. Constitution Hill is where the Old Fort jail sat. This jail was infamous for its mistreatment of its black prisoners. Famous for some of its prisoners, such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, to name two. That is where Madiba1 was kept before he was sent to Robben island. It was a radically racist prison. One example of this is the sleeping arrangements. White prisoners would get one mattress, two sleeping mats, one pillow, two pillowcases, three blankets, and more, whereas black, colored, and Asian prisoners got three blankets and two sleeping mats.

After the old fort, I did a tour through the township of Soweto. I started with my guide at the Hector Pietersen Memorial and learned about the 1976 student uprising where more than 600 students were killed, the youngest being eight years old. The next stop on my tour was to Nelson Mandela’s, Desmond Tutu’s, and Winnie Mandela’s houses. After that, I made my last stop at Soweto Towers.

1 Madiba is the clan name of Nelson Mandela. It is what many call him.

Touring a Diamond Mine in Cullinan, South Africa, August 10, 2022

Today I went to the Petra Diamond’s Diamond mine in Cullinan, South Africa. I learned that diamonds are pushed to the surface through magma, which cools into kimberlite. There are three kinds of kimberlite: brown, grey, and black. Of these three, grey and brown get eroded by water, and brown has the most diamonds. They first mine a bunch of kimberlites to get the diamonds and put them onto a boat. A skiff looks like Princess Leia’s ship from Star Wars: A New Hope and can carry 13.5 tons of rock. The boat travails up the mine shaft and deposits the stone onto a conveyor belt, which puts the rock onto another conveyer belt and takes it to the sorting machine. Eventually, the diamonds are sorted out and sold. After I learned all this, I ate what they called pancakes, which my mom called dutch babies, which were delicious, for lunch.

Visiting the Apartheid Museum, August 11, 2022

Today was my final day in Johannesburg. I went to the Apartheid Museum this morning, which was very interesting. I was given a little card that randomly said “White” or “Non-White.” I got “Non-White” and went through the appointed door, which eventually led to the main museum. There I learned about Jonney Clegg and his life. Next, I went through the exhibit on Madiba and learned about his sense of fashion. I next came to the main display in the museum: apartheid. I never knew how violent it was and even that it was more deadly than the Jim Crow Laws and The Civil Rights Movement in America. What struck me was the number of killings where the police, not the people, were making the killings. In the Jim Crow Laws and The Civil Rights Movement in America, it was mainly individuals here and there, sometimes mass killings, but primarily by primary citizens. In contrast, in South Africa, it was done mostly by the police. I had to leave the museum before I was finished, but I am now headed to The Cradle of Humankind.