Saturday, March 10, 2018 – By: Ingrid Llaveshi, MBA'18
The journey to South Africa was long but full of emotions. Having never been to Africa before, I was quite ecstatic for the experience ahead of us. I would occasionally get jolts of excitement at the prospect of the trip, but I also felt the responsibility on my shoulders. During the journey I tried my best to override the jetlag schedule, so I could be alert and begin to absorb the culture of South Africa from day one.
After getting a quick rest and taking advantage of the free time we had, we headed out for perhaps what is the most classic experience in Africa, the safari tour. While all the people on the tour were tourists, we got to experience first from our tour guide, Dusty, what South Africans are like. From the very first exchange we had with her, we felt the warmth and the openness of her people. She was so genuine and comfortable in talking to us - complete strangers. While we were on the tour, she took time to explain each and everything in a very genuine manner. I was so impressed with the fact that she was so casual, relaxed, and talking to us like we were her friends. She took her time in the tour which lasted beyond what was scheduled. I was deeply moved by the love, affection and care she had for each of the animals, and the experience left me with the impression that she, along with many, many others, is so proud of the main signatures and symbols of Africa, the animals.
Returning from the tour, we had an even more meaningful conversation with the Uber driver. Just like our safari tour guide, he was so open and talked to us very comfortably on a range of topics. He described for us in disturbing detail how challenging his everyday work is, how they get harassed and hijacked by metered-taxi drivers because he drives for Uber. Here you have someone who is a completely honest person, who is working hard to provide for his family of four children and wife, and striving to make ends meet every single day. Add to that, the pressure and stress of his job and you get a picture of what these people are going through -- living in fear and insecurity every day, even when they are working so hard. He gave us a clear picture of the legacy of apartheid, by describing how he lived in fear back then of being beaten for walking groups more than three. But what is even more shocking is that he lives in fear even now, decades after the end of apartheid, because of completely different reasons, such as high crime rates, the extreme inequality gap, and the lack of opportunities. His heart was exactly in the right place -- An honest working man who wants his children to get an education and have a better life, and who dreams of a future for equal opportunities, the end of violence, and people of every color living in harmony.