I went to the “A Conversation with Winnie Mandela” at the Faith Chapel Christian Center. When I first heard of the event I thought it would be something very interesting to go and listen to. I did not know much about what all happened in South Africa and how Winnie Mandela was involved in all of it. I knew that she was the ex-wife of the President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. I knew that there was a big problem there with racism where the ruling whites treated the blacks as inferior. I also knew that Nelson Mandela would eventually come from being imprisoned by the white regime to once it was brought down becoming the first black President and tried to bring the country together. Much of this I learned from watching the movie “Invictus” over the summer and then doing just a little bit of research about what actually happened. So I was not going to this event already knowing a lot about what went on and her role in it.
It was good to get an emic perspective on what really occurred in South Africa and the oppression that the black South Africans faced. The oppression that she talked about that they faced was very similar to what African Americans faced before and during the Civil Rights movement in our country about 50 years ago. She said that the only major difference between what happened in our country and in South Africa was that the racism was in their constitution and ours was not. Due to the similarities in the two movements the Civil Rights movement in our country gave great hope to the movement in South Africa because they were going on relatively the same time, but theirs took much longer to succeed and this happened in 1994. One difference was that in our Civil Rights movement women rarely spent much time in prison but she spent many years in prison during her fight for freedom. It seems that both of our cultures face the same evil of racism and to this day still struggle with it, but we are trying to work and get it overcome. She also said that in both of our cultures education is power and that we need to take advantage of it, and this is something I knew but sometimes take for granted or forget. I learned that she is a very brave and loving person and really cares for her fellow countrymen. I also learned that sometimes we get so caught up in our own culture we forget to look outside of ours and sometimes other cultures are dealing with the same problems or have dealt with them and we can get encouragement from them. This event dispelled for me that all of the white South Africans were the oppressors and in fact most weren’t because she said really it was the ones that were just in power in the government that were bad. Not to sound rude or racist, but from what I heard a lot of what goes on in both races whether black or white still has the race idea and that each one still feels like that they are better than the other. I also dispelled the idea that anyone from Africa was like a tribal person that foraged and hunted, but they are in some parts of Africa cities just like ours.
There were a few other interesting happenings that occurred during the program. One was that some men and women did a native South African dance which was different to a dance that is normally seen in the United States. They danced to a beating drum and they were dressed in grass skirts or animal skin skirt and they wore headdresses. This is just something an American does not see every day. Another interesting thing was the church building that the event was held in is the world’s largest monolithic dome.