Memoirs of Life in South Africa

English 162: Literature and Place (A Queens College Study Abroad Course)

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Blog #13

January 29th, 2012 by mikestrianese · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Blog 12: Write about something you learned in Cape Town. Suggestion: Use images or video.

On January 4, 2012 I went to the District Six Museum in Cape Town.  I was surprised by its size, my initial conception had a much larger building in mind.  One of the first things I noticed was that many exhibits were unglassed and unprotected, something you would never see at a museum in America.  I went to the Museum of Modern Arts in Manhattan a few weeks ago and was reprimanded for standing too close to an exhibit behind ten panes of alarm protected glass.  At the District Six Museum I could have filled my pockets with trinkets and walked out unnoticed.  I guess there’s a level of trust and respect in the African culture that isn’t there in American culture; in America everyone feels as if everyone else is out to get them.  Are they? Is it truly different in Africa? I doubt it.  The world is a giant mirror and people see in others what they project outward themselves.

Noor Ebrahim, the author of Noor’s Story: My Life in District Six gave my class and me a brief tour.  Holding up a picture of Michelle Obama and himself, Noor told us about the many well-known people he has given tours to in the past.  Besides the first lady they mostly consisted of famous Hollywood actors/actresses.  Most of the people surrounding Noor smiled and seemed pretty impressed, but I found myself wondering, “So what?”  It was not that I wasn’t proud of Noor’s accomplishment, or whatever one may deem it, but did it mean any more that he was giving a tour to them than me? Than the others in my class? It was then that Noor get my teeth to reveal themselves, and upon doing so we made eye contact, his teeth exposed slightly as well.  Noor said, “Please don’t feel as if I’m denouncing these people’s statuses but in my eyes there is no such thing as a VIP.  We are all God’s children and we are all equal.”  I feel as if Noor knew what he was evoking within me- he wore a hat similar to that of a snake charmer and I was certainly his serpent.  It’s hard to describe this man to someone who has not been in the same room as him, he truly emits an aura that is simultaneously loving, accepting, welcoming, warm, tender, and beautiful.

 (I did not take this picture)

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Talisa Feliciano

    I think its nice to be trusted in museums. I recently went to MoMa and got yelled at for having a camera. In my mind, art is for all not just those that can afford it.

    It was a relief to be able to touch and experience objects without being criminalized and yelled at.

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