This is Africa | Teen Ink

This is Africa

July 10, 2015
By WordAddict GOLD, Montclair, New Jersey
WordAddict GOLD, Montclair, New Jersey
13 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:

 It is amazing how different two places can be, yet how similar they seem on the outside.

  When I first traveled to South Africa, I had to say, nothing looked at all that different. Everything was written in English—billboards, restaurant menus, traffic signs. In Johannesburg, skyscrapers pierced the sky with translucent glass windows and formidable spires. Rowdy drivers mobbed the streets, like in New York City. No one lived in thatched-roof huts, everyone had clean water, people played video games, went to clubs, and ate elaborate Italian cuisine. My family living there went out for pizza and chicken fingers for lunch.

  This is Africa.

  About a week into the trip, my family and I traveled to a smaller city just outside of Johannesburg, which is one of the capitals of South Africa. This city was an all-black city—completely segregated, a poor, run-down community. Walking the streets with my mother and my little brother as we were being led by a ‘tour guide’, it occurred to me that I had never felt so alone, so out of place. We were the only white people in a sea of people of an entirely different color and ancestry, a different language, and unusual customs. The skyscrapers were more to the cryptic relevance of ghost-town houses—shattered windows and bleak, stained clothing hanging to dry over musty air vents, blowing eerily in the vent’s fumes. The air reeked, and rugged-looking smokers lined every street curb on the block. The natives stared at me and my family as we passed by in a mall, strangely curious. Heads turned wherever we went. No one smiled.

  This is Africa.

  The crucial problem of racial segregation and poverty is so well hidden, that when I experienced it for myself, it was like coming to a realization of a darker side of the world—a side that people do their best to steer you away from, for a purpose that is somewhat hazy. I was glad I had that experience, and it took me a little ways away from my naiveté about the world. Every country can be wonderful and interesting in different ways, but have similar lifestyles that make people feel comfortable wherever they go, but the circumstances surrounding economic or racial problems are almost always differed.

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This article has 1 comment.

Goose said...
on Jul. 15 2015 at 10:29 am
You juxtaposed the experience with your family in South Africa with that of your observations of the underprivileged in a thought provoking way. Your s brought of the sight, sound, smell, touch and feel of township brought the reader into your experience.