In 5o years’ time – i.e. the year 2066 – what do you say to your kids and grandchildren when they ask you: “Dad what were you doing in 2016 when the world seemed to have gone into free fall?”, “What did you do when there were so many reports of poverty, violence and injustice going on?”, “What were you praying for back then?” and “What kind of sermons were coming out of the pulpit then?” These are the questions I was left to start my second week in Cape Town with. This was after a very delightful Church on Main UCT students service on Sunday 24th July. It was an inspiring and provoking service that asked us to be aware of how we (re)act towards prevailing and structural injustices in between the times when the headlines flashes with flagship events of terror and chaos around the world. In 2066 will I be able to tell my kids and grandchildren that in the year 2016 I did more that offer virtual solidarity with those hurting in far flung countries (by liking or sharing stories on social media)?. Can I look them in the eyes and tell them that I also took time to reach out face-to-face to those in my neighbourhood, community and country suffering from hurt, injustice and poverty? Can I say that I joined to march in the streets to demand for some dignity for the downtrodden of society? Now ,that was some heavy stuff to begin my week. I was forced to be more aware of the things around me and how I can often tune out people and issues I encounter.
A first foray to the heart of the Cape Town’s CBD followed after my church service. As I will naturally do in Ghana, I hailed and jumped into a trotro – which they call a taxi here interestingly – that appeared to be heading into town. An interesting way I have found to get to know a city for the first time is to intentionally try to get lost by just walking around, following people and your senses without consulting a map. At the final stop of the trotro, I pretended to know where I was and where I was going. I just followed the stream of people in front of me who seem to be heading somewhere. After loitering around city landmarks, I followed the city signs like the one in the picture below. I did get a bit lost following these signs so I will occasionally check the map on my phone to reorient myself.
I finally manged to make it to the V&A Waterfront where I first grabbed an overpriced Tunisian hot pressed avocado sandwich. As a tourism researcher, I know that tourists sites such as the V&A Waterfront have their own pricing mechanisms. Yet still I always find it a bit…..
Putting on my research cap on, I took a leisurely stroll around the waterfront taking in the sights and sounds. I closely observed the composition of tourists and day trippers. The interesting observation I made – which was later confirmed by interviews I had later in the week – was that a large number of people seem to be on a simple day trip to the Waterfront. This group of people come not to dine and wine in restaurants but to enjoy the experience of having been at the Waterfront. They bring their own food and sit on the lawns close to the sea. They picnic with friends, take pictures and then head back home ready to start their week. There were also a number of entrepreneurial photographers who were doing good business with their portable printing apparatus on the boulevard. It was a nice research experience for me mingling among the crowds. To top it off, as I headed to the bus station to catch a trotro back home, I saw the clouds sitting on Table Mountain.
Academic targets for week two were met to a large extent. I had a couple of interviews with researchers and practitioners involved in tourism planning in the Cape Town Metropolitan area. I also had an appointment with the Research Collaborations Specialist at the UCT Research Office. This was to introduce myself as a World Universities Network Research Mobility Programme researcher visiting UCT. In terms of my PhD thesis, I managed to polish up the chapter I wrote from week one which I sent to my supervisors for feedback. While it is sometimes hard to let go of drafts that I feel can be further worked on, sending it on to my supervisors allow me to close off that chapter in my mind. It also makes it easier for me to begin work on the next chapter even though I know there are still some revisions to be done. I do feel good about the writing schedule notwithstanding the pressure of trying to write a chapter a week. At the end of week two I had completed a big portion of the next chapter but in a very disjointed form. The good thing, as I have to keep reminding myself, is that I do have a large body of text that I can play around with and put together in a better shape later on. At the end of the Friday of week two, I was so knackered when I got home from the UCT campus that I had to postpone writing this blog post – that is why this is coming later. The only thing that kept me perked up was my next day trip to Johannesburg.