looking back at south africa
I have just finished reading John Pilgers book - "Freedom Next Time" which has reinforced some of my feelings and observations about my trip to Cape Town. I recommend it to those planning their trip.
We were carefully (and often vociferously) steered away from meeting Black South Africa - apart from on the recognised routes - The Roben Island trip which was incredibly well organised and informative, and the District 6 museum, again which was wonderful, emotional and evocative. We finally got to see a township, via "Afrika" the local guide in Hout Bay. You just turn up at the tourist office and ask for a tour. That day was a real eye opener and made us realise just how sheltered our trip had been so far.
South Africa is Beautiful yes. Active, Yes. For anyone who loves the outdoors,stunning scenery, wild seas, hidden waterfalls, wildlife and strenuous activities South Africa has all in abundance and we thoroughly enjoyed all of this. Great guest houses were welcoming, comfortable , clean and cheap. As two women travelling together, we are always cautious, but in South Africa we were warned all the time to basically keep away from the black areas (not in so many words) - and this affected what we did and who we met. There was a lot of hedging around the issues by white people.
There has been little progress made in South Africa as regards living conditions for the black people. The townships are in places disgusting in terms of services. People can not be sustained on the "feel good factor" alone and as we heard at Roben Island, many young south african people do not even know their own recent history - and there is growing anger and dissatisfaction that so little has really changed. Some white people resent the positive discrimination policies and in reality, there has been no redistribution of wealth, no radical social change.In fact the status quo has been maintained.
These are only my own observations. Living in a multi cultural city like Manchester it struck us that there is a very long way to go in South Africa to heal the deep wounds and rectify the prejudices.