School is mundane in South Africa, too.

August 13, 2008

Again, I’m very excited people are checking in regularly and are interested in reading!  Unfortunately, I don’t have anything exciting to report this week.  Last weekend was supposed to be shark cage diving, but the weather was poor and the waves were huge, so it was canceled.  I’ve rescheduled, but I was very disappointed.

On Sunday I had an 8 hour class to make up for the fact that my professor will be in Europe during the month of October.  I have three courses with him, so I have another this Saturday and a third to schedule sometime in the near future.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad.  I enjoy the courses and feel like I’m going to come out of the trifecta with a very good understanding of post-conflict procedure and possibilities.  The courses are Negotiating Transition, Transitional Justice, and Truth Commissions.  I couldn’t remember which was which when I was scheduling =) but they’re differentiating themselves quickly and becoming quite fascinating. I’m also taking an Econ course, Economic and Development Problems in Africa… which, if you’ve heard me recite my goals for the future, sounds tailormade for my interests (but regardless of how adorable the professor is, thrilling lecturer he is not).  All of my classes are once held once a week for three hours, which to me is more enjoyable and makes more sense when the goal is to fascilitate discussion.

I have to write a research paper and an article for each course.  I will be posting the articles here when I’m finished, hopefully they’ll help make my interest easier to understand.  (Yes, I can hear you thinking “Eww, Economics?  Political Science?  Why am I sleepy all of a sudden?”) =)

Now!  Some things I’ve found particularly interesting in the past few days, followed by some pictures of Stellenbosch.

-There are six major human groups in the world.  All people, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, culture, political party, opinion or favorite color have evolved, migrated, combined, sailed and walked from one of these original groups, as catagorized by anthropolgists.  They are simply referred to as: blacks, whites, African Pygmies, Khoisan, Asian and Aboriginal Australians.  Of those six major human groups, Africa was home to five, all except Aboriginal Australians, by 1000 CE (Current Era.  In case you’ve been out of school for a few years, the use of BC and AD is being officially discontinued, as to the majority of the world “Before Christ” holds no significance.)
Thus, though the first thing that comes to mind when many people think of Africa is “BLACK!”, the continent is indeed extremely diverse and has been so for a long period of time.  In fact, technically, the whole of Northern Africa is white, not black.  This is anthropologically speaking, as in migration patterns, independent technological development, food production, ect., and does not speak to the validity of the concept of race.  I would gladly discuss that concept with anyone interested, though!  Is there such a thing as race?  Are there differences in genetics, brain capactiy, inhereted preferences/personality traits/concepts of humanity?  Or is the concept of race one designed simply to differentiate between “us” and “them” and therefore dehumanize “the other”?  Interesting to think about!

– African languages form the basis of the languages spoken by authors of the Bible, Torah and Qu’ran.  The Semitic languages (the family group of Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic (what Jesus would have spoken) form a subgroup of a larger language family that is mainly African, with two-thirds of surviving languages being spoken in Ethiopia.   The moral pillars of Western civilization have deep roots in a country we now use as the basis of poverty (“I bet kids in Ethiopia would like the rest of your dinner!”)

-The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the size of Western Europe, yet was brutally controlled and exploited by a single man, King Leopold II of Belgium, for half a century.  Stories of the atrocities being commited were so embarrassing for Belgium that Parliament annexed the Congo in 1908.  Belgium, a country the size of Maryland, continued to exploit and less vehemently brutalize the inhabitants of a country one-fourth the size of the United States for another 50 years.  Herein lies the power of guns.

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2 Responses to “School is mundane in South Africa, too.”

  1. irbaktam Says:

    Thats right, don’t just sieze the day, drain every last ounce of essence from it. You continue to astound.

  2. Martha-her mom! Says:

    Classes sound rather facinating; are there similiar offerings at OSU? Your choice of pictures continue to dispell the American assumptions of Africa; both the city life and the not so affluent(!) areas.

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