Here is the beginning of my long awaited love affair with Africa. Arriving in Cape Town, it is clear that there is a unique melody rushing through the air. It is one of a kind. The streets are alive with noise. The landscape is impeccably hypnotizing. Each day, the sun towers overhead and lands softly upon my fresh winter skin. I anticipate the day where I become its next victim to be marked with brutally awkward sunburn. Luckily, the cool ocean breeze balances the strength of the African sun that makes this New England girl swoon in admiration. I am overwhelmed with sensations yet infatuated with the South African atmosphere.
Although I had some expectations of what I may experience here, I am glad that it is becoming something different than I ever imagined. I am still in the adjustment phase so everything is still brand new and I find myself looking like somewhat of a human bobble head doll, swinging my head from side to side to absorb all the surroundings. Honks echo in the street and the sound of cars speeding by terrifies wandering souls. Little minibuses packed with passengers yelling out directions fills the roads with an unusual song. There is an obvious hussle and bussle on the main roads that creates a hectic rhythm but as you walk further into the residential areas, the melody softens where birds enchant ears with their delicate tunes. I marvel at the beauty of their language. It fills my heart with a comfort that reminds me of home and provides me with a familiarity that guides me through this strange new land.
Nightlife is also filled with unique sights and sounds. Faces fill the crowds with expressions of anticipation and excitement. A few days ago, a couple of us went out to a place called Boogie. And guess what? We BOOGIED. The music was mostly American influenced, which did not surprise me, most things in the world are. Nonetheless it was still a great array of genres choices. As all the young souls collided to the beat of each song, the venue ignited with a passionate energy that rarely exists in the daytime. The lively vibes at the clubs & bars create a vibrant experience for foreigners and locals.
There is a special kind of magic that lies within the foundations of this kaleidoscopic culture. On the first day of the University of Cape Town orientation, we were given the chance to attend an African Drum workshop. This experience sparked an electric energy in me that I never knew existed. It was beautiful to feel the beat radiate through the air as each student added a small piece to the creation of this unexpected orchestra. In the midst of it all, I realized that I was having a true African experience. It was exactly what I had hoped for when I envisioned coming to Africa. This music did not just exist to bring joy to ears, but for communities to come together and participate in something bigger than oneself. As each rhythm and beat required coordinating with everyone, there was a sense of connectedness. It was evident that this music existed to help us live in the present moment and enjoy it but also gave us a glimpse into the past. The history of Africa penetrated through the drums and glided out into the world as an everlasting memory of the culture. I experienced the same ignition of energy when I spotted a band playing on the waterfront. There is something very captivating about the passion of African music. It’s as if the band member and the instrument are one, harmonizing to create the perfect melody.
This diverse culture is unlike any other. With 11 official languages, one can occasionally hear the clicks of the Xhosa language, the beautiful ramble of Zulu or Afrikaans which creates a colorful tune that sings the song of South Africa. There is so much to experience beyond just sightseeing the beautiful land here. Every aspect of this beautiful country plays an important part in the creation of its unique melody. All it takes to hear it is a willingness to listen.