Tuesday, January 12, 2010

South Africa: Orange Farm ain't no farm

Finally, I had a chance to go to South Africa. I declared during the entire year of 2009, and God made a way for me to visit. It was a nice visit, but I wasn't the typical tourist. In other words, I didn’t stay in one of the “finest” hotels in Johannesburg or Cape Town.  Instead, I stayed in the township of Orange Farm. Orange Farm is located about 30 miles from Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.  By the way, Orange Farm is not a farming community; there was the occassional chicken clucking about the yards, but no farm.  I stayed in Orange Farm because that’s where the (In-Laws) family lives.  Admittedly, the first week was a little challenging because I had to get used to my surroundings. After a week, I was eating Scamboli, and chopping wood for a braai (pictured above).  As you can see, I was having some trouble.  What can I say...I'm a city boy!   Honestly, I would not trade the township experience for anything. It was a privilege for me to be there, and for the people to welcome me with open arms. As many of you know, the reputation of the township is one that is synonymous with American ghettos – it’s the hood!

So, there are some people (foreign and native) who are afraid to go to places like Orange Farm, Soweto, etc.  A good example of this can be seen in the movie, Tsotsi? I suppose that it can be dangerous, but I treated it just like any other hood – I didn’t take any midnight strolls. Plus, I greeted everyone in their language -- Sawubona!  Le kae mama?  The people in Orange Farm were just regular folk. They were people just living and trying to get ahead. Everybody sold something to make a living.  The living, however modest, was a living. They never seem to go hungry and the atmosphere was very festive. Yes, it was the festive season, but I’m told that it is also a typical weekend.  Like any place, there is the good and the bad.  I chose to focus on the good.  There were things that I wish could change for my family and others, but that's another blog.  Peace~

Gauteng - Sesotho word meaning "Place of Gold"
Braai - BBQ
Sawubona - Hello
Le kae - How are you?
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