Started the day out being nervous and anxious about the homestay that was about to happen. When we arrived in Soweto Johannesburg we had lunch with the mamas where we were split off into our new homes for the night. I didn’t know what to expect but breaking the ice at lunch with a traditional African meal made me realize I had nothing to worry about. Before coming on this trip I really wanted to be able to experience the culture and I wanted to be able to say at the end of the trip that I am part of the culture and not just a tourist. I already felt welcomed when mama Lilian Keagile gave me a new name in Sotho calling me Bonolo meaning sweet, gentle, and simple. Along with my own name I was able to learn some phrases, which made me feel like I was finally apart of the culture. The house was a cute small house with a living room where we ate, talked and watched tv. Two bedrooms and a kitchen. As I had a homemade dinner, which was amazing, we discussed their life story and I shared mine.
As we ate dinner mama shared her story about when she was little during the apartheid. She shared her story of how she was arrested when she was 16 or 17 years old because of the color of her skin. She explained her story with such passion, as she was describing it I was being moved by every word, and facial expression she had. It was such an emotional time for her that she couldn’t finish her life story. What I got away from it was how important to just understand the emotion of the first part of her life, so I can go home and share it with my family, friends and classmates. through out the whole homestay I learned it is not about how much you have its about family. As I was staying their she called me one of her own, and I felt like I was one of her own even though I knew her for less than 24 hours. An Experience like this one is something I thought I would have never experienced. Being able to experience it I am now able to tell people they do face hardships but the community they make and the culture they create is something they are proud of. I have never felt more welcomed by who started out as strangers and now feels like family.
In between lunch and dinner with mammas, I finally was able to see Nelson Mandela’s home. After doing research and seeing movies about him, his family and were he lived, I was able to walk through his home. It was an opportunity for me to feel part of his life by physically being there and seeing all his awards and his life style. It was interesting because when see movies like “A Long Walk to Freedom” and comparing it to the actual house was not what I was expecting. The movies show his house much smaller, and more rundown. As I was thinking about this it shows how movie companies make alterations to what the actually house looks like, in order to show more of an affect. Making a connection and dreaming about the day to go to Mandela’s home was an experience I will never forget just like I will never forget this whole experience.
“Our Stories have to be documented. I think it’s the most beautiful Gift this family can give.” -Zindzi Mandela