Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Cage

We were trapped.  The gates were locked and the fences loomed too high and dangerous - there seemed no possibility of escape.  All wondered how long our sanity would last in these quiet evening hours at the Mamelodi Compound outside of Pretoria.

Then came the idea.  A simple idea.  It began as a whisper that quickly turned into a roaring cry of, "REVOLUTION!"

Songs rose up out of the compound, beyond the cage and into the starry night.  A chorus of, "Freedom, freedom is coming, oh yes I know" was joined by the sympathetic barks and howls of the compound dogs.

In reality, our quiet evenings were pleasant, as we were given a lot of think about.  A visit to the University of South Africa (UNISA) early in the week brought a lecture on the history of the Afrikaner people, after which we venture to the Voortrekker Monument.  This day brought a combination of hard questions and an understanding of the people that created the apartheid system.

A lecture from Piet Meiring about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was especially impacting.  This man was asked by Archbishop Desmond Tutu himself to be a part of the TRC, to represent the Afrikaner people.  It was such an honour to hear his many stories of forgiveness amidst the incredible pain and sorrow of those oppressed by the apartheid system.

Our week was enhanced by two very different worship times.  Firstly, we joined an Afrikaner youth group for an evening of singing many familiar songs and discovering that worshiping God is not defined by where you live.  The second event had us up one morning 4am to find ourselves out of place on an extremely overpacked train.  We were the only white faces to be seen!  The chorus of voices on the Gospel Train (full of commuters attending church on the ride into town) swelled and the train walls transformed into reverberating drums.  The Gospel Train shouted its praises as even more people packed the doors on their way to work.  Scripture was shouted and uplifting words were preached.  Our very own Sam wisely spoke of how welcome we felt in the midst of this community  and how beautiful it was to be unified.

Later that morning the group pounded out their rhythmic fingerprints at a djembe workshop at the University of Pretoria.  Some of us left feeling rhythmically challenged although altogether quite invigorated.  We spent the afternoon hiding in the shade as we explored the gardens at Parliament.  There we had our first sharing circle experience.  Our group split up into guys and girls and in those separate circles passed around an object and allowed each person the opportunity to share what was on their hearts.

We had a few days during the week for a random array of adventures.  A number of us hit up an amusement part in Johannesburg and later on we had a wonderful wildlife experience at a lion park.  Zebras, giraffes, springboks, lions and cheetahs were among the many animals we got to see from the safety of our bus.  Feeding the giraffes in creative ways - such as holding the food between you lips and having their long, black, scratchy tongue explore your face to find the crunchy morsel of food was a hilarious highlight for many.  We were also given the opportunity to pet little lion cubs, and we wished we could bring them home with us!

Our week ended with many sunburned faces as we splashed about in the water park at Sun City, playing in the lazy river, surfing through people in the wave pool and very discreetly removing the wedgies received from the waterslides.

Fortunately the Cage was not so bad after all, seeing as we did end up escaping quite regularly.

Written by: Lauren Harms

djembe workshop

feeding the giraffes

lunch at Parliament

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like great fun and serious experiences, Lauren! Just a correction: Parliament is in Cape Town, while you enjoyed lunch in the gardens of the Union Building in Pretoria. It's an interesting set-up, where Parliament sits in Cape Town (legislative capital) for half of the year, then they all move to Pretoria (executive capital) for the other half. Almost like Outtatown being in Canada for half of the year, then in Paradise for the other half.