Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder

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What image pops into your head when you hear Africa? Before coming to Africa, I pictured a big, open, sandy desert, packed with elephants, zebras, and cheetahs. For you, it may be different but if you’ve never been here, you probably can’t picture everything that lies within this complex continent. If you asked me that same question now after being in africa my answer would be townships. Townships are areas originally created in times of Apartheid. Their original purpose was to separate races, blacks, coloreds, and whites, not only from living in the same home, but also the same area. Today, different ethnic groups aren’t forced to continue to live in townships based on race, but many people choose to continue this lifestyle, or can’t afford to break the pattern.

Our first experience in a township was in Cape Town, South Africa. My group of 18 women piled into a van to “tour” a township. As we turned a corner, I got my first glimpse of township. I felt shocked that people lived in these tiny, mulit-colored shacks made of a slab of wood, and a sheet of aluminum. The majority of these homes have no running water, electricity, or a roof that would be reliable in any sort of rain or wind. As we continued to drive through the area, I saw little kids running around barefoot staring at our van shouting “Lungu,” white people. Some of the children looked sick, with runny noses and glossy eyes, but most looked hungry, their ribs visible underneath their torn shirts. Near the end of the tour, I saw cows heads roasting outside, being skinned to be served as a “delicacy of the area.” We toured on a Wednesday, yet adults sat outside almost every home, staring blankly into the distance. “The people here are so lazy,” our tour guide remarked, “They don’t try to make a better life for themselves.”

After we finished our tour and returned to our hostel, the feeling of sadness and anger overtook me. There wasn’t a glimpse of hope that I saw that day, and I felt terribly...
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