I have come to a place that most people would classify to be filled with poverty and sorrow. A place that is misunderstood as much as it is fanaticized about. A place that most call the Motherland and can only dream of walking on her soils. A place that bares the scars of Apartheid and racial divisions but yet and still smiles. I have found in this place peace, serenity, strength to cope with my daily stresses and grief's, pure contentment, envy for simplicity yet admiration for the ability to downsize life's complexities. I have found a true spirit of giving and forgiveness without expectations of reciprocity. most would ask where on earth would one find these great elements, and I have been blessed with the ability to utter SOUTH AFRICA! It is a place that will leave anyone regardless of status or stature speechless. It is a place that will make the most prideful of men and the most knowledgeable scholar, surrender all that they have come to know and bask In all that is foreign, yet in so many ways familiar. This place embodies a type of familiarity that is neither common nor familiar due to experience, but rather more it rings as a long desired familiarity. Most would love to be familiar with the ability, to forgive the unforgivable, to give when there is nothing material to salvage and to smile regardless of your circumstance. Yes this is something that we ALL wish we were accustomed to but sadly we come from a place where it is not only common but promoted to gloat on all that you do not possess, to despise those that have more than you and to never be truly content with your own blessings. It is not the fault of the people solely however, for we are only following the status quo or so some like to say "keeping up with the jones's" but I have broken free from the air of an unsatisfactory and ever growing atmosphere of GREED without RETURN, I have been granted a dual perspective on life, I have been given the ability to CHOOSE whether I will perceive my shortcomings as loses or smile and know that what I am meant to have and accomplish I will. I can look myself in the mirror now and I can honestly say with all faith in my words that I AM THE KEEPER OF MY HAPPINESS! I attribute those words to the true discovery of FREEDOM I HAVE BEEN FREED FROM MY OWN NEGATIVE MIND TRAP! I may be leaving this place of sheer joy tomorrow but I worry not because I have a souvenir that will keep me whole and grounded for the rest of my days. I HAVE FOUND HONESTY, LOVE, REALITY, GREAT SORROW YET GREATER FAITH AND STRENGTH, these in turn have made me a HAPPIER person, and I am so thankful. I now know that regardless of the size of your struggle if you faith and strength overshadow it, you will make it through. I HAVE BEEN CHANGED!
Recently in Courtney Bell Category
SO...........before departing for South Africa I had mounting anxieties about exactly how the Post-Apartheid racial divisions would impact me being an African American woman that is a minority in the U.S. I was told that my race would not matter, because my nationality as an American would overshadow everything. I was told that I would be assumed to be African until I opened my mouth and my accent gave me away, but then I would be embraced by the South African people. THREE WEEKS LATER AND ABOUT FOUR REALITY CHECKS OVERDUE! I have experienced all of the above mentioned and a lot more! I have received much positive attention from the men of South Africa and have been labeled as "exotic" by most of them. I have had interactions with some South Africans that have told me that I could never be mistaken as a South African that my body language and my appearance give me away. Of course these type of statements raise questions such as WHY? and WHY NOT? And unfortunately most of my questions were met with a " I don't know, you just don't" I am not bothered so much by it, I just embraced my differences. I can say that I find it interesting that the perception of African American people as a whole is based on what South African people see on television. I have been told that shows such as Judge Joe Mathis, Housewives of Atlanta and Glee are the sole representation of African American people and our culture. While I am just as saddened as I am interested in this fact, I took this lack of knowledge of my people as an opportunity, I know that I am only one person and that I do not embody all that is an African American in my being, but I made sure that I represented myself well while here.
"We accord a person's dignity by assuming that they are good, that they share the human qualities we ascribe to ourselves." -Nelson Mandela
Morality what exactly is it? To be with morals is what I have come up with. There are morals and values that are embodied in every culture, nation, and "racial group" however it is ASSUMED that in this world there are COMMON MORALS which in large are based on religious commandments. With this said if morality is so common then why is it that this very morality is glorified when exemplified in ordinary figures. Figures such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and dare I say Barack Obama have been glorified for doing "the right thing" they have been made into monumental beings for having MORALS. They are all also minorities from societies that have a history of what is "white is right" and many of these men became who they are known to be in these times of discrimination. They stood up against what was wrong and elevated oppressed people to follow them in the pursuit of equality. Their actions have only been classified as extraordinary because they went against the grain in a time when the majority was SEVERELY morally flawed and to be frank without morals. This for me has brought into question just how horrid and dark the times of trial were that majority of these men endured. IT is further mind boggling to think that the oppressors truly believe that there actions were morally just and that they were doing "the right thing" I guess this is the reason that MORALITY MAKES HEROES! Cheers to the heroes of our past and present that have made it possible for people such as myself to stand for what is right and not what is popular!
So it has been a whooping two weeks and one day here in South Africa and one aspect that is sticking out to me is the tremendous amount of hospitality that this Country embodies. I dropped off my laundry yesterday in my duffle bag for the price of 77 Ran which translates to about 10 U.S Dollars and in exchange my clothes were washed, dried, folded very neatly, organized by article type and packed neatly back in my bag. I couldn't believe it! Where does stuff like this really happen at! I was all too prepared to bring my clothes into the laundromat and wash them myself and dry them as well. I ABSOLUTELY HATE TO GO TO THE LAUNDROMAT! The clerk at the business was so genuinely pleasant and he was excited to have our service. A group of us dropped off clothes, as most would imagine after two weeks, clothes pile up to the ceiling. I also had a beautiful experience at the African Braiding Shop that myself and Kiara M., Cymone and Greg all went to yesterday. I am a regular customer of African Braid Shops back home, but my experience is always horrible and due to the high demand for that style of braiding I am usually treated like just another customer. The owner of the shop that I usually go to are less than concerned with my satisfaction or my time. The women that braid my hair are also African but have been in Minnesota for some time. I honestly expected for my experience to be similar if not worse. TO MY SURPRISE! my hair was washed then blow dryed then oiled and then I was given a scalp massage. All of these things included in the price of 490 Ran, which translates to 73 U.S Dollars and is half the price of what I would have paid back home. My hair was then started and completed within three hours which was exceptionally fast, and the supervisor made sure that my stylist put her best effort forth. I am 100% happy with the finished product, and I honestly am humbled by the hospitality that I have received while here!