The Mother City

When my sister-friend Jennifer and I started throwing around the idea of visiting Cape Town, South Africa for Spring Break, I had no idea just how profound of an effect that the trip would have on my life. Visiting Africa had always been on my bucket list of things to do, but I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would actually happen for me. Our itinerary consisted of attending the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, taking in many of the sites that the province had to offer, and sinking our teeth into authentic African cuisine. We loaded up our oversized luggage, and headed to Dubai to catch our flight.

My first impression of Africa was wow! It was nothing like we had been taught in the States. For as long as I could remember, Africa was always portrayed as this destitute place where the citizens were in need of us well-off Americans to send them our pocket change in order to survive. It was presented to us as this third-world country where almost all of its citizens lived in poverty. When we arrived at the airport, I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging, and that feeling only heightened as the trip went on.

Everywhere we went, we were greeted with a smile, hug, handshake, and ‘Welcome Home my sisters.’ I cannot explain to you how amazing that felt. As an African American who has lived in a country where I (and my people) are oftentimes viewed as second-class citizens and even a nuisance, it felt good to finally feel that I belonged. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have people staring at my hair and wondering why it was in its natural state; if anything, if you didn’t have natural hair, people stared at you wondering why. I saw people with the same skin tone as me, and the melanin was definitely popping. Beautiful shades of brown ranging from caramel, mocha, and everything in between were in abundance. Could it be that I was finally home?

We went to many of the tourist attractions in the area, but we also made it a point to visit the not-so-glamorous areas where many of the locals lived, also know as townships. Our driver, Brain (think of the American name Brian), made sure that we saw the real Cape Town. One of the most memorable moments there had to be visiting the home of Apartheid survivors. They welcomed us into their home, fed us, and shared their experiences with us. It would be like sitting at the feet of Holocaust survivors or Civil Rights activists. Truly an emotional, but life-changing experience.

Many of the local guys fancied me (sorry Jonathan), and went on and on about how beautiful I was. Not to mention the older guy in the airport who wanted to all but marry me after a few moments of conversing, until I told him I was already married. The locals also kept ranting about how I looked like I was from Johannesburg, and that my family roots were likely there.

At times I found myself overtaken by the beautiful homeland that many of my ancestors had been brutally taken from. I also experienced a deep desire to learn more about the land that was mostly foreign to me. I needed more than the allotted time there to visit.

I’m finding it very hard to articulate just how life-altering this trip was, but hopefully you caught the gist. Needless to say, this will not be the last time that the Mother City sees me. Upon returning, I want to head to Durban and Johannesburg.

I literally took dozens of videos and hundreds of pictures, so I tried to capture some of my favorite moments in the movie below. Enjoy!

Until next time.

When America Invades the UAE

There’s nothing like a subtle reminder of home when you’re not at home. I’ve never been a huge fan of 7/11–I grew up in Oklahoma, where Quiktrip (QT) runs things–but I was super excited to hear that my apartment community was getting a 7/11. I was even more excited to see the sign go up directly across the street from my building. I had no idea that the pandemonium would be so great.

An email went out to the apartment community detailing the opening day. I decided that I would check it out after work. When I walked in, it was like Walmart on Black Friday! No exaggeration. Our entire apartment community, surrounding communities, and those who had never heard of 7/11 flocked to the storefront on opening day. I was impressed to see the setup of the store, how many exported products from America that they had, and just how well thought out the store was. There’s a one-stop shop machine at the front of the store that makes paying local and international bills, as well as sending money home, a breeze. There’s also a laundry service provided by 7/11 for those who need it. Oh, and did I mention that the entire inventory of the store can be delivered to your doorstep? The idea of delivery is not far-fetched as 99% of the businesses here deliver, but I was excited to see that 7/11 had joined the number.

I’ve frequented 7/11 numerous times since their opening, and I’m sure that won’t change any time soon. I do, however, kinda feel like I’m cheating on QT. 😜