June 16 in South Africa is a very special day. 34 years ago today, thousands of black children attempted to protest a decree that they must be taught in Afrikaans in school but what ensued is now known as the Soweto Riots or Soweto Uprising, a turning point in the fight for freedom in South Africa.
My plan was to sleep all day but Ivorian cousin had other things in mind. I was startled by a phone call around 10am with orders to get ready for breakfast. The guy was just downstairs! I obliged. We ended up at Homebaze in Village Square just in time for lunch. It’s a Nigerian owned pan-African restaurant. Not too shabby.We were joined by an Ivorian friend of my cousin and his lady friends and their kid brothers.
My people! Either these South African ladies were being cute and ditzy or they are just ignorant as all hell! First, they refused to try any of the dishes on the menu using words such as disgusting more than once. Mind you, when the food actually came, they conceded that the dodo (fried plantains)were not that bad after all. You should have seen the first bite though. As if we were asking them to eat their own excrement. Goodness!
As if that was not enough, the Chile – Honduras match playing in the background provided it’s own entertainment. Namely, figuring out where in Africa Chile was. One actually suggested it may be near Singapore…in Africa! Wow! Ok, so maybe Apartheid was just that bad that black South Africans lack basic education…even to this day.
I was even asked that since I was coming from America had I ever seen any celebrities. As if celebrity sighting occurs on every corner in the States. I didn’t even try to explain that I essentially lived in rural America. No celebrities to be seen there! Their questioning was reminiscent of Americans asking me if I have lions in my backyard back home or if we drive cars in Africa.
Ignorance is no joke.
After this highly informative lunch, Ivorian cousin decided to take me on an excursion to the Cradle of Humankind about an hour outside Johannesburg. I’m so glad that he did. My inner-Anthropological geek had a field day! The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage site so named because some of the oldest hominid fossils ever found were found here and in large numbers. Famous fossils such as the 2.3 million year old Mrs. Ples and the Taung baby, both Australopithecus africanus. Oh my goodness, I cannot express how happy I was to be here. I kept trying to mentally flip through my college textbooks trying to recover forgotten information. I wished I was back in college so I could return to class and proudly announce that I was there! It felt even better than when I saw Lucy in the National Museum in Addis Ababa when I was there in 2006.
We returned to Johannesburg just in time for the South Africa – Uruguay match. The roads were bare! But it was a huge disappointment. Not that I expected Bafana Bafana to win the World Cup but I think they must have underestimated Uruguay or expected everyone to just lay down in front of them as the hosts. Uruguay was not playing along at all! Spoilsports! Worse, the South African fans started to leave the stadium in their droves after the second goal. I mean yes, it was freezing but still. Bafana Bafana deserved better support.
I can say all this because I was watching the game in the warmth of a friends home.