The people. The music. The culture.
That’s the heart of my 10-day journey in a part of the motherland. South Africa was a blessing to my soul that I didn’t realize I needed. The experience both humbled me and secured my personal pride.
When I planted my foot on the land, it instantly felt like home. Doppelgangers popped up everywhere, reminding me that so much of Black American culture reaches back home, even without our knowledge or permission. Naturally, I felt some nervousness about the newness and the unknown; but that anxiety was eased almost immediately. I found so much comfort in the “familiar” faces. Because of how deeply I’m connected to my culture, it was secondhand nature to connect to the culture there. Thanks to my previous international travels, I’ve already witnessed the beauty of different cultures. I’ve come to expect, accept, and, most importantly, respect the differences.
The people of South Africa welcomed me with open arms and were eager to share their culture. Every day offered the gifts of music, food, and education. Jazz is heavy in South Africa. It’s as natural to them as breathing, and I was blessed and honored for multiple opportunities to sit and be swallowed up by the spiritual, cosmic experience that is South African music. I learned that for them, music is the key to liberation. It’s not just something that sounds good; the music is intentional with messaging that calls back to their rich history. The food was different and, honestly, an adjustment for me. South Africa is a meat-dominant country, and there were limited vegetarian options. Of the meals and snacks I tried, I had to adjust to the taste of food without preservatives.
South Africans have a rich, storied past and can tell you all of it. To the traveler with an open mind and ears, you can sit at their feet and learn the type of things you’d never find in an American textbook.
Not only did I get to experience South Africa, but South Africa got to experience me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity placed at my feet to teach worldwide. During my trip, I facilitated a workshop on Social Entrepreneurship for an after-school social entrepreneurship club at Hunt Road Secondary School. The students shared their vision for enhancing their school and building the community around them, and I dropped my own gems to help them along the way.
I also got to give my own gift of music through the drum class I taught at KCAP Ekhaya Multi Arts Centre. I told the babies that because we made music together, we’ll always be family, and I meant that! They gave me so much life, and I gave them my energy, my genuine love, and shared a West African beat I learned as a child with the Ko-Thi Dance Company.
I didn’t travel to Durban to teach, but educating and passing down knowledge is a huge part of who I am. It’s in me, so I believe the opportunities to teach internationally will always find me. As I continue traveling worldwide, I’ll take on each new opportunity with an open mind and heart. Teaching internationally gives me lessons, too.
Altogether, my time in Africa served as a deeply personal, spiritual, inward journey. On the other side of the globe, I quieted my mind and heard God talk. Those conversations and the compelling experiences South Africa offers made it difficult to leave. But I know I’ll be back. South Africa is a huge country with millions of people, 11 different languages, and a congregation of cultures. It showed me that the hood is worldwide; the world truly is my home.