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Anisha Arora: South Africa. The Land of Contradictions

 Native South African dancers outside Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

Native South African dancers outside Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

 

Photography and Text by Anisha Arora, Copyright 2018

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South Africa. The Land of Contradictions

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South Africa is a land of contradictions. What you see on the surface are beautiful beaches, sprawling vineyards, clear sky and dramatic mountains everywhere. You are enchanted and enthralled by the beauty, and rightly so. But slowly, you realize that this beauty hides a brutal truth. The truth of the white man, once again, justifying formalized racism.

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The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town at sunset

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town at sunset

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I got the wonderful opportunity to visit South Africa over the Spring Break, as part of Wharton’s Global Immersion Program. I absolutely fell in love with the country and highly recommend visiting both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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 Penguins at the Boulder Beach

Penguins at the Boulder Beach

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Cape Town is astoundingly beautiful and is often called the Silicon Valley of South Africa, with a budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. The views of the Table Mountain never gets old, the beaches are beautiful and pristine, and the views at the Cape of Good Hope are unparalleled. My favorite memory, though, is of seeing the penguins at Boulder Beach for the very first time. I also recommend visiting Stellenbosch to see the beautiful vineyards and taste the much-touted South African vines.

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A giraffe at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, near Johannesburg

A giraffe at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, near Johannesburg

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It’s easy to lose yourself in the natural beauty of South Africa. However, a trip to South Africa is incomplete without an attempt to understand its complex history. The apartheid museum and the Soweto townships in Johannesburg, as well as, a trip to Robben Island are a must. Robben Island houses the prison where Nelson Mandela was kept locked up for almost 2 decades.

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Words inscribed on the wall of Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

Words inscribed on the wall of Nelson Mandela’s house in Johannesburg

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Our guide at Robben Island, an island used for isolation of political prisoners. Our guide was a fellow prisoner with Nelson Mandela (who spent 18 years imprisoned on this island)

Our guide at Robben Island, an island used for isolation of political prisoners. Our guide was a fellow prisoner with Nelson Mandela (who spent 18 years imprisoned on this island)

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 A sign at the Apartheid museum, from the time when apartheid was practiced in South Africa

A sign at the Apartheid museum, from the time when apartheid was practiced in South Africa

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Personally, it was difficult for me to fathom that apartheid ended within my lifetime. It was even more difficult to fathom that human beings can inflict such torture on fellow human beings, with a perfect ability to rationalize these actions. Some of the exhibits at the apartheid museum also reminded me of the divisive language we see today around anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-refugee emotions. We, homo sapiens, never learn from our past.

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Colorful houses in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood

Colorful houses in the Bo-Kaap neighborhood

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A colorful market in Johannesburg

A colorful market in Johannesburg

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Through my photographs, I have tried to capture the various aspects of South Africa, from the wildlife, the mountains, the beaches to the locals and places of historical significance.

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A local South African playing music on the road

A local South African playing music on the road

 

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About The Author: Anisha Arora is enrolled in the Graduate program, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Anisha Arora, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/anisha-arora-a-whiff-of-history/

 

This entry was posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, History, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn: Photography Students, Women.

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