Repacking My Baggage After Langa

January 5 was our first full day in Cape Town. Our day began with an introduction to social innovation through our first lecture where our professor, Melanie Burke, urged us to have bliss and accept uncertainty.

In the afternoon, we embarked on a tour of Langa Township. We saw its various features, gaining insight into the different types of housing, historical landmarks, and places of cultural significance, such as the Sangoma or healer. Over the course of the tour, I realized that I had succumbed to the danger of a single story because I went into the experience associating Langa with poverty. The tour depicted to me the rich culture and community present in Langa, as we learned about its rites of passage, local food and drink, and music and arts scene.

After the tour, we ate in Langa at Mzansi Restaurant, which was unlike any restaurant I had ever dined at before. The owner, Mama, invited us into her home and treated us as family. She made dozens of delicious dishes with love and shared several stories, including the long but rewarding process of starting her restaurant and meeting her husband. I enjoyed the upbeat rhythms and beautiful harmonies that several locals conveyed through music as we ate, and on the way out after the meal we had the opportunity to jam with them on various percussion instruments.

On the bus ride back from Little Scotia, Melanie challenged us to consider which baggage (metaphorical) we have brought to Cape Town, and which of that baggage we want to leave Cape Town with as we develop our perspective. From the experience in Langa, I know that I want to interact with locals and maintain an open mind wherever I go to hear the truth.

 

 

This recording studio is part of the new arts center in Langa.

Here we saw the room where the local mosaic artist makes beautiful works of art.

At this stop we learned about Langa’s Amphitheater. The empty water bottles represent an art piece that is very relevant right now as Cape Town is experiencing a severe drought.

The Langa Heritage Museum taught us that during apartheid the black majority was forced to always carry passports and was threatened with jail sentences if caught without them.

Our group had the chance to try local beer brewed in Langa.

A view of one housing area in Langa.

Picture of me at Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town.

Alexander Leipold

My name is Alexander Leipold, but feel free to call me Alex! I am a freshman marketing and operations management and business analytics double major. I was born in Ansbach, Germany and moved to the States at age 4, growing up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Some of my hobbies include playing guitar, writing songs, running and staying active, hiking, baking bread, and reading. I have played in multiple bands and love expressing myself through music.I’ve been set on studying abroad ever since I started the college application process. I value learning with a global mindset and experiencing different perspectives and cultures. Through this trip, I hope to gain insight into how social entrepreneurship works in practice. Additionally, I want to see the world from a different perspective and learn more about South Africa’s history and its implications for contemporary society. I hope that when I return to UMD after the trip I am more globally focused and entrepreneurially minded.

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