Thanks for joining me 🙂
I decided to go ahead and kick off my first blog post by sharing a heritage experience that has significantly impacted me:
“…history can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.” – Robert Penn Warren
Last year I was fortunate enough to win the SOMAFCO essay competition, and the prize was a 7-day trip to Tanzania – how amazing!!! SOMAFCO (Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College) Trust is a South African youth development organization which draws its inspiration from the history of SOMAFCO, a college which was established by the African National Congress (ANC) on land donated to it by the Tanzanian government in 1977. Before I share this unforgettable experience, let’s backtrack to some history so my story-telling and pictures make sense to you!
During the South African apartheid struggle, anti-apartheid activists were being violently suppressed and ambushed by the Apartheid government. Consequently, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), was formed in 1961 to lead the armed struggle to fight back. The ANC was supported by a number of African states which hosted ANC leaders fleeing from increasing repression in South Africa. These countries included Tanzania, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. From these countries, MK operated and co-ordinated the liberation struggle in South Africa and abroad. Some countries took them in as refugees, others allowed them to establish military bases. After going into exile in 1961, ANC president Oliver Tambo established anti-apartheid missions across the continent, basing the movement in Tanzania.
The trip to Tanzania was a chance to see firsthand how freedom fighters – some of whom came to Tanzania with their partners and children – continued the fight against apartheid:
A school was opened in Morogoro, Tanzania for South African children, named Mazimbu. Formal teaching began in 1978. It was later renamed the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in the 1980’s. During the heritage tour, Oupa, Ntokozo, Nomafa, Edwin and Tlholo shared their personal experiences of what it was like growing up in exile. Hearing their stories was a sobering reminder that people’s lives were disrupted during the struggle.
The entire experience took my breath away. South African anti-apartheid activists were willing to lay down their lives for the struggle – that’s true passion! During one of the evenings in Tanzania, I wrote down these words in my journal, ” I am so humbled by this encounter; a massive price was paid for me to live a better life. I am encouraged to give more of my life to contribute towards economic freedom in South Africa…”
Of course, we had time to galavant and enjoy Tanzania as well, especially with our weekend away in Zanzibar!!!
Travelling in general is always exciting for me, but it’s even better when it’s for a heritage experience of this kind. Neither words nor pictures can do justice to the level of perspective and personal growth I have gained from this educational tour. I came back to South Africa with a more seasoned view of the world… of humanity… of solidarity in action. All I can say is, “Asante sana, Tanzania!”
To learn more about the SOMAFCO trust, visit http://somafcotrust.org.za/
PS: If you’re keen to read my essay entry which afforded me this amazing opportunity, contact me and I’d be happy to e-mail it to you 🙂