Two Sides to Every Story

Hello Everyone! It’s Lydia, Hannah, and Bryn!

Today was a relatively light schedule, but the impact of the events were immense.

To begin the day we toured Liliesleaf Farm, a safe house used during the resistance movement to allow meetings between banned members of the ANC. This historical site is described as a place of memory rather than a museum, detailing the lives of those who used the building and their eventual discovery due to a raid which netted numerous ANC revolutionaries. On July 11th 1963 Liliesleaf Farm was raided by the South African Defense Team who were in search of notable ANC figures. Of these figures, the number one target was Walter Sisulu who, based on a secret informant, was reported to be staying at the farm. Based on the informants info, the police determined that a white family had taken possession of the farm and allowed multiple politically charged individuals to hide and organize meetings on the property. In order to determine the truth behind this information, police decided to raid the property disguised as dry cleaners and surprised the political figures in the middle of a meeting. This raid resulted in the arrests of nine significant political protesters, plus incriminated Nelson Mandela in the movement to overthrow the government. The arrests resulted in terms of life imprisonment for Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Gavon Mbeki, and most of the rest of the defendants. This operation would detain Mandela and his fellow prisoners for over 20 years until their eventual release which signaled the end of Apartheid.

The next stop was the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria which was built in remembrance of the Dutch-Boer history in South Africa. During our tour we learned that Voortrekker means those who moved forward, this is to symbolize their trek from the western cape to the Pretoria area which is in the northeast of the country. En route they had many encounters with the Zulu people which led to much blood shed. As years went by, many lives were lost on both sides, the Dutch, British, and Zulu tribe eventually reached a land treaty. The granite monument took 12 years to construct and features 27 sculptured marble panels depicting scenes from the great trek. Unfortunately the pieces depict a very one-sided version of history.  The last scene failed to depict the Zulu tribe at all. In the end the British took the Zulu land, gave them back a little piece, and gave the Dutch the remainder. So unfair!


Our final activity today was dinner at The Grill House in Melrose Arch where Andy Meldrum, who is the Africa Editor for the Associated Press, joined us. During dinner he talked about his connection and experience reporting in southern Africa. He also talked about many of the stories he covered featuring Nelson Mandela. Meldrum specifically talked about one of his most memorable pieces which was on the night that Mandela passed away. He told a story of people outside of Mandela’s house in Soweto celebrating his life. As a media oriented study abroad trip, it was insightful and engaging to learn about international reporting. It was also enlightening to hear about someone’s personal experience reporting within an apartheid government.


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