On Wednesday our group got a special invitation to attend a political celebration/rally that was being held on Feb. 11th by the African National Congress (ANC). With some last minute planning, we got to go. The ANC is a S.A. political party that the current president, Jacob Zuma, is a representative of (look into his own personal scandal, its interesting). For those who don’t know, the ANC was one of the main forces that fought against the apartheid regime and one of the party’s most prominent figures is Nelson Mandela himself. The rally was held yesterday to commemorate Nelson Mandela’s release from prison on this date 20 years ago. The rally was held in Paarl (about an hour away from Gordon’s Bay) at the same prison in which he was ultimately released from.
The rally was really cool - thousands of people attended, most wearing ANC shirts, colors, flags, and beads. The speakers on stage were really powerful, and used various chants such as “viva Madiba!” to pump up the crowd. The theme was that while Mandela was an important man - his cause was what should be getting regonition.
A lot of the speeches given from the stage were in languages other than English - such as Xhosa, Zulu, or 4 other tribal languages… so when we couldn’t really understand what they were saying, we walked around the event and talked to various people. I was surprised as to how keen people were to embrace us random outsiders in their rally. They were so excited to have us there, and were keen to discuss the importance of the party/rally with us, ask us about our work and why we were there, give us S.A. tips, or teach us how to dance.
Which brings me to my favorite part of the day… how the ANC uses music and dance as a political tool. The rally had an official DJ, the ANC has an official song (one that you can dance to, not some dry anthem), and half of the rally was a mix of different South African music. The performers included traditional women dancing and singing, the Drakenstein Choir, and two famous South African performers (who I can’t remember the names of). Lots of people were dancing throughout the rally, and my favorite point of the day is when some ANC supporters grabbed me and a few of my fellow volunteers to dance with them… it was so much fun and they gave us some new dance moves. :-) They were so excited to include us in their day of celebration, and it made me love South Africans even more.
I hope to post pictures of the event soon!