Movement Makers Explore Pilanesberg National Park, Johannesburg
Day 6: Johannesburg –Day Outing
A learning exchange in South Africa would not be complete without an opportunity to see the country’s rich wildlife, which plays a huge part in the local and national economies of South Africa and has a complicated relationship with the local tribes. Given that, our first day in Johannesburg was spent on a game reserve in Pilanesberg National Park. Much of the park sits on land re-settled by the Bakubung tribe during apartheid and then sold to a Tswana tribe bantustan who wanted to convert the land into the game reserve. The park is named after the Tswana Chief Pilane.
Not the kind of group to waste any time, we spent our lunch break at the reserve discussing neoliberalism and its impact on South Africa’s economy and crushing rates of poverty and unemployment. Trishala Deb of IDEX led a teach-in using materials developed by Mazibuko Jara, a leader of United Front, which is a new leftist coalition in South Africa seen as the next iteration of large-scale organizing post-Apartheid. We thought about how this economic context influences their organizing in South Africa and what we can take back to our own organizing at home in the United States. Movement Makers shared that they see many parallels with the challenges we face at home and it increases our own urgency to build broader coalitions that connect gender-based violence with economic injustice.
The rest of the day was spent joyfully spotting animals in the wild, including giraffes, herds of wildebeest, kudu, many zebras, a herd of impala, a family of warthogs, elephants, a white rhino, a community of baboons, and several beautiful birds. We were also blessed with a rare sighting of a black rhino and a glimpse of a hippo.
But perhaps the animal sighting that got us the most fired up was the humble dung beetle. We spotted it on the ground, working hard to roll a ball of dung up a small incline, while another dung beetle got a free ride by latching himself onto it. Our guide shared that the freeloading dung beetle would wait until the other dung beetle was exhausted from the work, and then attack him and steal the ball for himself. That was enough to get us cheering and on our feet to encourage the one pushing the ball to succeed. Clearly, some of us could relate.
We were glad to see Movement Makers and fellow faculty and staff take a little time to rest and enjoy the rich natural beauty of South Africa. We expect this break will also help us be alert and ready for the busy days ahead.
This international learning exchange was planned in conjunction with our esteemed partners at International Development Exchange (IDEX).