A simple ball fuels the passion and pride of nations.
It gives people everywhere something to hope for.
It gives countries respect where respect is in short supply and achieves more than the politicians ever could.
Once every four years, a ball does the impossible and if history means anything, the world as we know it is about to change.
One games changes everything.”
One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was to leave South Africa before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup…
South Africa is a truly amazing country. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to go back there one day but until then I settle for watching as many World Cup games as possible! Bafana Bafana (“the Boys, the Boys”), the South African national team, is kicking off the competition right now and I hope the boys do well in the first match against Mexico.
I’m also looking forward to the match tomorrow between the USA and England. The American team might actually surprise people this year and not completely blow it!
While I was in South Africa everyone’s attention was justifiably focused on the World Cup and so I watched a lot of bad soccer commercials but the two videos on this blog are probably my favorite.
Part of our coursework for the study abroad program is to learn the history of South Africa. Sometimes Americans can feel slightly removed from the political unrest and the fight for the freedom of all people when much of the action happened 5 decades ago. It is very different in South Africa because the political unrest happened just a few years ago.
Nelson Mandela’s story is a powerful one. He brought a racially charged country back together in times of great hardships and became the first black president of South Africa. He was imprisoned for 27 years for his part in the civil rights movement here and he spent most of his time on Robben Island. I got a chance to tour the political prison with some extremely amazing people. We went with Ed Larson (a Pulizter Prize winning historian), the granddaughter of Albert Luthuli (1st black African Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of the African National Congress) and Ahmed Kathrada (Mandela’s former cellmate and activist). It was a very powerful experience hearing from someone who spent a large portion of his life in prison simply because he wanted the same rights and freedoms alloted to the white population. My time on Robben Island made me really reflect on what was important in my life. What I would be willing to lay my life down for? What cause do I care about enough to spend 3 decades in prison for?
After the tour of the island I went to the District Six and Slave Lodge Museums. The District Six Museum honors the forcible removal of thousands of black residents of a vibrant Cape Town neighborhood. The non-whites were kicked out of the region and all of the buildings were demolished. The Slave Lodge Museum (aka South African Cultural History Museum) was built to house slaves by the Dutch East India Company in 1679. 9,000 slaves, convicts and mentally ill persons were housed here for over a century and the building now serves as a museum to tell their stories.
Robben Island Political Prison
Nelson Mandela’s Cell
Mandela’s cellmate in front of pictures from his time at Robben Island
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Sir Edmund Hillary
Last week for a lecture on “The Power of WOW” our entire group did a sunrise hike of Table Mountain. It’s a flat topped mountain that overlooks the city of Cape Town and serves as the cities most notable landmark. Table Mountain sits about 1,o00 meters (3,500 ft.) above sea level and the early morning hike was definitely a challenge. It is possibly one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time. Before the trek I was imagining a Stone Mountain like journey up the mountain but the steep, windy hills definitely were nothing like the small, Georgia mountain.
Once we reached the top the hike was immediately worth it. The views of the city from the top of the mountain were incredible. It seemed like I was sitting on top of the world. Cape Town is such a stunning city. It rests between the ocean and a mountain and offers some of the best scenery in the world. From the top of the mountain we were instructed to create a 50 item bucket list of what we wanted to do before we kick the bucket. Here’s my tentative Bucket List from the mountaintop:
(Warning: Some items on the list are a joke! If you take life too seriously please stop reading now, because I don’t!)
1. Visit all 50 States
2. Visit all 7 continents
3. Swim in every ocean
4. Sail the greek isles
5. Watch a Shakespearean play in England
6. Host my own TV show
7. Launch my own TV network
8. Be in a major motion picture
9. Climb Mt Everest
10. Visit the Taj Mahal
11. Shake hands with the President
12. Become a CEO
13. Inspire others
14. Go to a World Cup Match
15. Watch Olympic Track & Field
16. Have tea with the Queen of England
17. Date a Victoria Secret “Angel”
18. Date another Victoria Secret “Angel”
19. Start a big family
20. Own a private island (like Nekker Island)
21. Own a penthouse in NYC
22. Visit outerspace
23. Go to the winter Olympics
24. Learn to speak Spanish
25. Learn to speak Afrikaans
26. Re visit South Africa
27. Have a crazy Ranch/Zoo/Mansion (like Neverland minus crazy Michael Jackson)
28. Own a zebra
29. Own a giraffe
30. Own a lion
31. Date a pop star
32. Start a non profit
33. Fall in love
34. Have a best friend I would die for
35. Date a movie star
36. Marry an heiress
37. Take all of her money
38. Go skydiving
39. Bungee jump
40. Make a kid laugh
41. Drink every type of coke from around the world in its home country
42. Become a YouTube celebrity with Claire Shurley
43. Play with Penguins
44. Fist pump at the jersey shore
45. Eat sushi in Japan
46. Write a book
47. Hitchhike through Europe
48. Go to Mass at the Vatican
49. Dive in the Great Barrier Reef
50. Climb a pyramid in Egypt
Today is the big day! At 12:30 this afternoon I’ll be on a plane headed half way across the world! It’s 3:30am and I can’t force my self to sleep so why not watch the official anthem for the 2010 World Cup?!
Be sure to stay check back on this [NEW] blog for all of my updates from Africa!