Driving to the moon and back

It’s been a long time since my last MamaShayna post, and I’ve just driven ‘to the moon and back!’

As a newly minted MBA, I’m enjoying a summer full of travels before starting back to work this fall.  I’m excited to be exploring a bit of the African continent this summer, on a journey that takes me from south to east Africa, and then to Europe for weddings and visits with friends.

I’ve just finished my first week in South Africa, visiting my best friend Laura and experiencing the country through her seasoned lens.  Laura has been fascinated by African politics and especially South African apartheid era photographers since our undergrad days.  She’s been studying international law at Wits university, a vibrant campus where I was lucky to meet her friends from South Africa, Germany, Namibia and the Congo, and get a truly diverse perspective on politics and development.

A Congolese friend Francois was kind enough to show me around Soweto, a township where Nelson Mandela’s home was located and his family stayed while he was imprisoned.  This was one of my favorite quotes from the visit, which was posted on the wall of Mandela’s home:

This neighborhood was also home to the birth of the student movement led by Steven Biko and others which eventually led to the rejection of Afrikaners as the official language in black schools, and the launch of the ANC movement to end apartheid.

Francois and I also visited Sophiatown, an originally very diverse settlement of blacks, Chinese, and others in Jo-burg.  They were relocated by the Afrikaners in 1955 to Soweto, particularly to move the blacks far away from the white settlements.  The irony I found was that this was one of the most diverse neighborhoods that we visited in Jo-berg, with Indians, black, white, and mixed race South Africans, and Africans from all over the continent living together in this neighborhood. Jo-berg remains an incredibly racially divided city, but in Sophiatown, the power of compassion and the people prevailed to overcome the racist urban planning of apartheid.

A roadtrip out of Jo-burg brought us to the ‘mountain kingdom’ of Lesotho, a small, land-locked country whose borders lie within South Africa.  The lowest high point of the continent is in Lesotho – 1400 meters – so you can imagine our steep drive in and out on a 4 x 4 into eastern Lesotho via the Drakensburg Mountains.  We found a dramatic landscape as we summited to an icy mountaintop, one that my mom commented from the pics, and rightly so, is what she imagines the moon to look like.

It is the kind of landscape with colors that I’ve only seen in cooler climates at high altitudes – pastel, beautiful, muted, and dramatic.

On our trip down from the Lesothan moon, we stopped at a local village and met a village woman and 3 of her 7 children at their home in their small, 10 hut town.  The kids playfully posed for the camera and shrilled with delight when I showed them their own images… kids are the same everywhere I go!

Our last stop in Lesotho was at the highest pub in Africa (9,400 feet) to soak up the sunset and warm up with some hot mulled  Gluwhein wine.

We descended from the moon after sunset, a magical and incredible start to the journey.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    havatoy said,

    Amazing, not just the experience, but your uncanny ability to go beyond the beauty & connect with the people.
    I can’t wait to share your beautiful blog with friends, and the images you have sent already are beyond what I expected.
    We need to go thru all of your wonderful images & dedicate a wall to the story that you continue to write with your life’s journey.
    Very emotional, very beautiful…Just exceptional!
    Enjoy!
    Love, Dad

  2. 2

    Lu said,

    we miss you shayshay! so glad you are having the best trip! HAPPY ALMOST BIRTHDAY! xOXOXOXO lulu & blakie

  3. 3

    harold h said,

    UN believable you should of taken me

  4. 4

    katy said,

    I missed reading your posts!! Keep them coming!!


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