The Communication Talk

People have communication failures all the time. This is often the main source of conflicting arguments between individuals and groups of people. As Rogers explains it, the inability of a person to emphatically listen to others who have contradicting viewpoints creates unnecessary friction.

Applying Rogers communication model to my research question brings up an interesting question. Could impartial communication be the root cause of the social conflicts between the white apartheid government and the black, colored, and Indian populations throughout South Africa? After all, it is clear that there were those who were against apartheid, for it, or perhaps had no opinion about it. To better explain my point, I am going to over simplify the decades long struggle. Imagine the three sides all sitting around a table in the shape of South Africa staring intensely at each other. The one side who is against apartheid is majority black, colored, and Indian with some white people mixed in. The side supporting apartheid is- safe to assume- white. Meanwhile, the side who is neutral could be majority white with some blacks, coloreds, and Indians who wished to stay out of trouble. As they debate what is right and what is wrong, to two opposite sides are clearly not listening to understand each other, while the neutral side is understanding both perspectives but did not feel passionate enough to control the situation. As a result, the apartheid government supporters gain control by yelling the loudest and flipping the table, leaving the anti-apartheid group suppressed under the pressure of the table.

A meeting such as the one above could have been avoided by empathetic listening and third-party interventions from the neutral side. Nonetheless, even though apartheid was banned, South Africa continues to struggle with racism and corrupt authorities. Modern day conservations about free education and keeping Afrikaans monuments suffer from communication blocks. Where President Zuma cannot follow through on a budget model and student activist do not fully understand how to develop a practical model for free education. If both sides would take the time to feel, see, and understand how the other interprets the situation on free education, then perhaps the country would see results sooner.

Throughout this experience, I have kept an open mind and was never quick to evaluate the lifestyles of those within South Africa. Before I asked questions, I listened intently to gather the individual’s  full perspective. However, I found that often times I did not have too many questions to ask because I was trying to process their story enough to understand their perspective. I despise asking pointless questions to take up time and pointless questions tend to deviate the conversation away from the purpose.


Wine and Conflict


First stop today was Solms- Delta, otherwise known as my first winery. We took a tour of the museums present. This winery was completely built by slaves. I discovered that apartheid was also supported on the farms. Usually white men owned the farms and the enslaved workers were black and colored.  However, it has progressed today to provide education opportunities for the farmers and their families who live on the farm.

Later that afternoon, we had dinner with current students attending University of Cape Town. This was a great opportunity to gain a contemporary perceptive on the pressing issues facing South Africa. The movement they are apart of is Fees Must Fall. I thought it was interesting that fighting for free education is of importance when thousands of people are living in such poor conditions. However, I understand that higher education is important to potentially reach the middle class and change the mindset of racist individuals. The students informed us that if you go against social norms and are met with resistance, then you are most likely doing something right.

One student mentioned a case of modern-day colonialism when his white professor began to steal data that belonged to the research he was apart of. My first reaction? I could not believe a supervisor would do such a thing to their student. My second reaction? I thought it was odd of the student to consider this colonialism just because the instructor is white. This situation occurs all over the world and among people of the same race. I think he may have been too quick to judge it as a race vs race motivated scheme.

Another interesting highlight of our conversation is that even in 2018, there is still racial profiling. The same student mentioned above stated that he gets stopped and questioned by security more often than his other friends due to the way he dresses and looks. I do understand the point of stopping someone who looks suspicious. However, the student claims he is called out more because he is a queer Indian man. Thus, just on the basis that he looks different, he appears to be up to no good.

At this point for South Africa, it seems they have a long ways to go to eliminate the presence of the apartheid mindset. Racism and segregation is still present in South Africa. In order to over come this legacy, the people need to wake up. Most have been brain washed into thinking only one race can be superior. This mindset must change. The people of South Africa must put aside their differences and set an example for future generations.

The Food Influence

Food can influence culture by altering when groups of people eat, how they eat, and what they can eat. South Africa is such a melting pot of cultures and people, that there are many variations of traditional dishes that are unique only to a particular area within South Africa. People rely on food to bring family and friends together for big celebrations that are important within their culture.

An interesting aspect of food, it that recipes continue on for hundreds of generations. In this way, personal family history is embodied through food. A mom will teach her children how to make a culturally significant dish, which is the same one her mom taught her and so on. What’s funny is that each family within the same culture makes every dish slightly different. For example, family A adds two pinches of salt, while family B adds one pinch of salt. Each family has their own genetic secret of how they construct their traditional foods.

Foods can provide comfort in times of upheaval by providing a sense of security through familiarity. When so many changes are occurring, it is comforting to know that the recipe will not change and the cultural aspect of the food will not be destroyed or belittled. Thereby, engendering a sense of solidarity from the reassuring presence of culture. Furthermore, cooking was a platform for educating women. They used recipes as a means to work on literacy and writing. IN terms of resistance to social injustice, they used codes through cooling to communicate with other women, as to not be suspicious and called out upon by men.

Keeping it Real


I believe, now a days, that being authentic is a challenge. It is a quality of people and experiences that is becoming extinct. Our society pushes us to think we need to impress others and appear perfect, when in reality we are far from that illusion.

Throughout this trip, I have some what been able to differentiate between the genuine experiences from the posed experiences. I felt as though all the township tours were authentic. These tours were unscripted and slightly unplanned. Thus, our guides were more of a new friend showing us around their hometown, rather than just an annoyed tour guide. The inauthentic experiences were the ones flooded with other tourists. During these tours, I felt uncomfortable being around so many tourist and knowing that I was clearly labeled as a tourist. Also, our guides were simply reading off an invisible script, while anticipating our questions and planning the next move.

My concept of authenticity comes from the muscle memory of knowing someone is telling the truth. Humans are very intuitive creatures, thus, most of us are able to feel when the truth is being revealed or hidden from us. This concept is universal and unchangeable. Either someone tells the truth or not. An experience is true or not. Perhaps depending on the tour guide, a tourist activity could feel authentic. However, chances are the guide had two previous tours and five more to go, so they are a little strung out and just want to get through the day.

The term “trip” is more of umbrella term for vacation, business related, study abroad etc. In instances when the trip is more R&R or business related, chances are you are not experiencing the true culture of the people and country you are in. If a trip is more for academic purposes, there is a higher chance of experiencing and witnessing how the country actually is on a day-to-day basis because you will have to step away from the tourist path. Often times, when people travel abroad even to 2nd and 3rd world countries they end up staying away from the volatile areas and in a nice hotel. Ultimately, they have no idea what it feels like to have an authentic experience in that country.

Cheers to Government


Starting off the day- late as usual ;)- we took a tour of South Africa’s Parliament building. The one thing I remember about South African democracy is that the people elect groups of people to elect the president for them. Nevertheless, I actually retained factual evidence to further my research. Interestingly enough, the apartheid government had inequality within the system its self. To clarify, apartheid government had a tricameral parliament. One branch for whites, one for blacks, and one for Indians. Despite the fact that white people are the minority, they are more represented than the black and Indian populations.

Following this, we ate lunch at a  food bazaar that had a middle eastern/ Indian vibe to it. We entered, ordered our food, and received our food. Nothing abnormal. Yet, some how I I felt out of place. I couldn’t help but to be paranoid about the looks black and colored people gave me. I may be over reacting, but this place was not as inviting as the touristy areas of Cape Town. It was like a veil separating the fake tourist stuff from the real world of survival of the fittest.

At the District 6 museum, I discovered the following information. From the Group Areas Act of 1950, people of South Africa became adjusted to living in their assigned locations. The whites had their neighborhoods, the blacks theirs and the colored their own as well. Unfortunately, when apartheid was banned, the people remained in their segregated areas. The white people did not want to move to black neighborhoods where crime was high and cleanliness was low. Also, most of the black population could not afford to move out of their shanty homes. Everyone is brain washed. An important goal to keep in mind is the rebuilding of a city which belongs to all people and enables the people to live together as humans, not as races.

As stated from the museum, “the process of social engineering resulted in people being concentrated in artificially created African homelands and dormitory black and colored townships on the periphery of the cities”. In addition, pass laws were used to control and track the movement, settlement, and employment of black South Africans in the 19th and 20th century. This provides evidence that the apartheid government feared and wanted to own the black population. To the Afrikaans, black South Africans carried over the generalization of being immoral, indecent, and dangerous from the 1880s.

Often times, reading information in a museum and the first hand experience are slightly off. However, the segregation of communities is very prominent and the museums are spot on. While most people will not act out against others of a different race, they people still continue to have their prejudices and stereotypes about others. This mindset needs to go. No one is born a racist, so we need to stop making them.

To Prison


Today we all went to prison for no justifiable reason. All we were just using our morals to fight against the Apartheid government. We were forced in a cramped, hot room with our bodies shoved against other sweaty bodies. After being lectured for hours without sitting, we were brought to the  cells. At this prison- on Robben Island, isolated from the real world- the heaviness of its role as a prison holder radiates. We, the black and Colored men of this prison, will be dehumanized, peed on, and forced to work as slaves. All because we want equality and unity throughout South Africa.

Fighting against apartheid was one the reasons hundreds of men and women were imprisoned. The prison mentioned above is is located on Robben Island which held hundreds of political prisoners and criminals. When touring the prison, it was clear the prison was not a kind place to the men held within its walls. The weather was brutal and the white guards were ruthless. This prison only held black and Colored men, while white men were held else where. It is known that the white imprisoned men were treated better than any other black, colored, and Indian man. Even within the Robben Island prison, there was inequality among the races. For example, black men were fed less than colored men and were forced to work in the mine longer and more often than colored men.

On the way back to where we are staying, we stopped to pick up our guest speaker to bring him over to eat dinner with us. He was a political prisoner from 1964 to 1971 on Robben Island. Following the dinner, we were able to ask him questions about his experiences and the struggle against apartheid. I will share some key evidence he said that supports my research. The obvious one is that black and whites were held in separate prisons. However, this was enforced by the apartheid law and not by choice of the prisoners. The facilities may have been separate, but they were not equal. Also, the prison guards were white, so this continued to fool white people into thinking they are superior.

He also mentioned the corruptness of modern day South African politics. When Jacob Zuma was elected, he fed the state hopes and promises just to get himself elected. Now, being power hungry and wanting money, he has regressed South Africa’s efforts of social cohesion. Even though apartheid has been banded for over 20 years, the legacy of segregation and racism remains.

To fight against this, he emphasizes the importance of educating people. Education can create tolerance and respect for one another. He tells us not to wait for the government to action, so be the change you want to see in society.


Today, as we transitioned our study to Cape Town, there was a substantial change in the atmosphere. Cape Town felt more inviting than Johannesburg. Perhaps it is because  Cape Town is more liberal.

After settling in from our day of traveling, we gathered in the small corner of the square dining table and watched “Miners Shot Down”, directed by Rehad Desai. This film covers the massacre at Lonmin mine where 34 miners were executed by police forces on August 16, 2012. The film investigates leadership decisions to fire at the miners by revealing evidence up to six days before the massacre. From the investigation, it was clear that the president of the ANC and the commanding police officer are possible suspects. Although there were strikes and increasing tensions between the police and miners before the massacre, and the miners had killed two police officers, the miners had no intent of violence the day of the massacre. In fact, the miners were starting to walk home until the police swung around to block them in and used the excuse that the miners were still walking towards them, to fire away. They fired so many shots, that the footage shown in the film sounded like continuous fireworks. To this day, police believe they had done the right thing and no officers have been charged for murder.

Immediately following the film, the director and his brother generously came over to where we are staying to have dinner with us and discuss his documentary. Within the discussion, we addressed emotional an emotional time for both Rehad Desai and his brother. Desai stated that South Africa “needs to get rid of corrupt leadership to create social change”, and same is true for all states. An interesting fact he dished out was that the mines originally started with white laborers then the mine shareholders shifted to local miners to lower costs and increase income for themselves. Then the white people- to keep civil order- were placed into management positions that led them to think they are superior than the black miners. Thus, the apartheid system is supported through the mines. It is so disturbing that the white minority is in a better position than the black and colored majority.

Another point Desai made, was that you must have a good relation with yourself and you must love yourself to be a successful activist. In order to help other people and build relationships with them, you must love yourself. As a lay Buddhist and believer in spirituality, this concept is so important in everyday life. This is truly how the world could reduce conflict and ignorance.