Perhaps I haven’t posted in awhile because I’m not ready to accept that my time in South Africa has come to an end. I’ve been avoiding sitting down and writing about my thoughts on the whole experience. There were so many significant experiences packed into these past four months; unforgettable ones, heart wrenching ones, and difficult to come to terms with ones, amongst others. It’s all a lot to comprehend right now. But as I’ve learned from my past experience on my Immersion semester in the backcountry of Washington state, reflection and growth from the experience occurs awhile after the experience has ended.
The philosophy of Ubuntu after which this blog is titled is where I would like to begin my thought process. If you aren’t already familiar with Ubuntu, it is an old African philosophy that symbolizes humanness toward others. Simply put: Without one another, we can’t be. During my stay in Cape Town I interacted with and befriended a variety of people from all different walks of life. It’s hard to leave those people knowing that I won’t be back for awhile because they had such an impact on me. But the one thing in common amongst all of those interactions, and which stands out the most vividly when I share stories now, is how everyone embraced Ubuntu. One particular observation stands out in my mind. I was having a conversation with a woman named Sibu who was extremely upset and angry. Despite her state of mind at that moment, Sibu greeted passing people she knew with a smile and proceeded to ask them how they were. It was as if her anger never even existed. She did not let her present mindset affect her interactions with others. This made an impression on me. When I am in a bad mood, I often let it affect how I treat others. I may be disrespectful or rude because I only care about my own feelings. However, Sibu put her feelings aside and greeted others with respect. To me this represented Ubuntu because she was genuinely interested in how others were feeling.
Another example of Ubuntu was how people whom I had just recently met opened their homes to me and others when we needed a place to stay. The word hospitality is an understatement in South Africa. People were genuinely concerned about my well-being and I have never felt so warmly welcomed by strangers. Despite moving to Cape Town all by myself and not knowing a single soul when I arrived, it was not a challenge to meet people. The woman named Ursula, whom I met the first weekend I arrived and invited me on a strenuous hike up Chapman’s Peak, continued to email me throughout my stay and inquire as to how I was doing and what adventures I had been on. She was disappointed that she was not able to take me on more hikes up the mountain since she got her hip replaced a few weeks after I arrived. We re-connected in the last two weeks of my stay and were able to hit the trails together. She was so eager to get back on the mountain even after she had just started to walk again. She’s 72 years old and was doing rock scrambles 2 1/2 months after having her hip replaced. Woah! A wonderful woman with a contagious spirit for adventure.
There, I got some thoughts out. More will come later as I process the experience. For now, I wanted to share these pictures taken on my last few days in Cape Town.
So long for now South Africa. I’ll be back in the future. I’m grateful for every experience I’ve had…the good, stressful, happy, sad, and challenging. I’ve embraced it all and I hope that a piece of me remains there.