Oberlin Blogs

Summer in Cape Town, South Africa (Part 1)

July 11, 2012

Simbarashe Runyowa ’15

It feels like it has literally been several decades since I last updated this blog. (*hides*) The long and short of the story is that the past semester ended, finals came and went, and summer approached. And that there, ladies and gentlemen, was an electrifyingly detailed account of my semester. *applause*

Anyway, it is now summer, and I would like to think that Oberlin has retreated into hibernation. The town is now probably sleeping--Tappan Square is desolate, Mudd Library deserted, the Feve empty of revellers. The glass facades of the science centre must be completely free of the lurking shadows of students bolting to the next chemistry lab or neuroscience lecture. I would imagine that the whole town of Oberlin is reclining in a big imaginary womb chair, ruminating over the past year and preparing its bowels to be invaded by a rush of students once September rolls around.

Okay, what was that whole paragraph about? I guess I'm spilling Oberlin nostalgia all over the shore. *wipes tear* That's because it's summer, and I'm back in Africa, this time Cape Town, South Africa.

I've already written before, ad nauseum, about how I am from Zimbabwe and how I have expressly crowned it the best place in the world. I stopped by in Zimbabwe on my way to South Africa:
A downtown building
A glimpse of Harare, my hometown. These are instagram pictures, which means my choice of filter might be offensive to some viewers. Apologies to any photography gurus out there.

Fruit market
More Zimbabwe. This is a market near my neighbourhood.

This time, however, I decided not to stay, and instead to spend the summer in what is possibly my second favourite place to be, South Africa. I have been to this country many times, as it is a direct neighbour to Zimbabwe. My former trips, however, had been confined to Johannesburg, a fast paced city often referred to as the business hub of Sub-Saharan Africa, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.

This time however, I am in Cape Town, which is ALSO the capital city of South Africa. Are you confused yet? Never fear, I am here to clarify. According to the staggeringly reliable wikipedia South Africa page, South Africa boasts of THREE capitals: Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and Cape Town. Each branch of government (legislative, judiciary, and executive) is headquarted in a different capital city. So there you have it.

Modern downtown building
Cape Town City Bowl. Cape Town is a very cosmopolitan city.

All this is an unnecessary aside. Because, really, what you want to know is what it is I am doing here.

Well, I'm here to do an internship. I am working with a wonderful, wonderful organization here in Cape Town called PASSOP (People Against Suffering, Oppression, and Poverty). The organization is fundamentally concerned with protecting the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants.

I chose to intern here because, when I return for my sophomore year in the fall, I will declare a major in Politics and International Studies, and possibly a minor in Economics. I have become really interested in issues around democratisation and human rights law in Africa (as well as economic development). This interest spurred in me after I took two courses with Associate Professor of African Studies, Dr Darko Opoku, in which we covered these issues extensively. I feel that, after the exploration I went through in my first year, I am ready to penetrate deeper into my specific interests in international relations. Oberlin gives lots of support for students to do cool internships, projects, conferences, research, etc. I was very grateful to have received financial and moral support from the Bonner Center for Service and Learning (I love the Bonner Program, just saying) as well as the Career Services Office.

Train tracks
Waiting to take the train to work in the mornings.

All that was, again, a circuitous tangent. Because this blog post is about Cape Town.

A windy, wavy water front
Cape Town waterfront.

I absolutely love this city. Everywhere you go here, there is a mountain in the backdrop. It is an unbelievably scenic place. It is, of course, home to Table Mountain, one of the seven wonders of the world, which I shall attempt to hike this coming weekend. I will be sure to document the entire gruelling procedure and the spectacular injuries I will inevitably incur by attempting such an outrageously difficult venture. Embarrassing photos are coming soon. Then there is also Robben Island, a rather solemn reminder of this country's sordid and painful history of apartheid, being the place in which Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years.

Writer posing in front of the waterfront
More waterfront.

Wooden ship parked at a dock
I thought this ship looked like it came out of Pirates of the Caribbean. It's not just me, right?

I'll write more about my amazing internship in the inevitable sequel to this blog. (What! how bewilderingly unpredictable!)

Responses to this Entry

Hey Simba! Have a great internship in Cape Town! I'm keeping an eye on your next update :)

Posted by: loanlu on July 11, 2012 1:10 PM

I miss Cape Town! Do you know the song? 'Cape Town, you are the place for me, Cape Town, I love you sooo, Bloomfontein and Mafikeng are as nice as anything, but Cape Toooown's the place for me!' If not, I will have to sing it to you next semester :) I used to live in Muizenberg (about an hour away on the train), lots of resident baboons and penguins around there..and great white sharks...but a great place, despite the occasional news stories like 'all that was found was her swimming cap...'! Also, are there still all those penguins living on Robben Island? They had pretty much taken it over when we visited! Very cute, kind of nice that they had reclaimed a place with such a horrific past...have you been up table mountain? It's really great but I was only little so my clearest memory is of how long it took and the cafe at the top! Anyway, hope you have a brilliant time!!

Posted by: Ruby Turok-Squire '16 on July 15, 2012 6:20 PM

Loan : Thanks so much. I hope your travels around Vietnam are going along swimmingly:)

Ruby : It's so great that you are a former Cape Tonian(

But more importantly, there is a SONG about Cape Town?! These are the kind of things I could have wikipedia'ed(sp.) on those lengthy waits in sundry airports on my way here. A tragic, tragic, error in organisation.

Lastly, I have to agree with you that Cape Town is wonderful. But the weather, sadly is not!!!We have had to postpone an excursion to Table Mountain on account of torrential rains! They say here that one can experience all four seasons in one day, and I believe them now!

I will pass your warm regards to the penguins if I make it out to Robben Island. I hear they continue to be devastatingly cute.

Posted by: Simba on July 16, 2012 9:05 AM

Stunning photos. That is one of the most amazing parts of the world and you are quite lucky to spend your summer and such a magical and magnificent country. Enjoy that experience!

Posted by: Mover on July 17, 2012 9:56 AM

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