A common concern expressed in our talking circle last night was the feeling of not doing enough for MaAfrika Tikkun. Myself being one of those individuals. At our final visit with the organization, their director, Anthea, expressed her gratitude for all that we had done. I felt that we hadn't earned the acclaim. 20 hours of random work coupled with our presence during site visits? Was it really enough? I felt the Schindler complex of "I could've done more."
The second half of the day involved the long-anticipated trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe and loads of other political prisoners were incarcerated. Let's just say the boat ride out and back is a story in itself. It would be even more of a story if I was able to get on top of the boat (it was full :( ). Robben Island has been a museum and world heritage site for about 14 years now. Previous political prisoners serve as tour guides and share more of the general details rather than their own personal stories. Realizing that great thinkers, teachers and revolutionaries were all contained within those walls was almost baffling to me. It was said in our group yesterday that Robben Island just goes to show the power of an idea. And that, in order to suppress the idea and idea-makers, literal walls were constructed for containment. Yes, we saw Nelson Mandela's cell. Yes, it looked like all the others. No, we couldn't walk in it, thanks to goons in the past who have stolen things. Yes, it was still gripping in its own way.
Our group has reflected lately on our own personal transformations. South Africa has done and is continuing to do crazy stuff to us. The people, the places, the strong feelings associated with just being here have all contributed to a palpable change within us all. I know I'll have more thoughts on this in the coming couple days as we prepare for departure. But for now, I'm marinating on the ideas of the evolution of community, the notion of selfless service, the constraining idea of "enough," and the powerful lived experience.
Today is a day off. Tonight our group is hosting a Bring 'n Braai --- aka. a tricked-out Minnesotan potluck. We've invited our friends from MaAfrika, some of Nate's local friends, our friends from InterStudy and some potential friends from the U of Illinois. Should be interesting. But it should also be a great way to celebrate those who have given us so much during our time here
Tomorrow, our last class, our last big dinner and our last talking circle. "Last," ugh.. not digging it.