Packing, preparing and planning

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During J-term 2019, 367 students and 32 program leaders will participate in one of Luther's 18 courses around the globe.Each course is a different journey and has a different blogger (or several). Below you'll find a blog post from the Paideia 450 course, "Removal and Restitution: Building Communities in South Africa." Check out the January Term 2019 Course Blogs page for more on each of the courses! Although it's impossible to keep up with everyone, these blogs are designed to provide glimpses into our students' adventures.

When thinking about spending a month in South Africa for this course, a saying comes to mind: "If the outcome is certain, it's not an adventure." This trip will undoubtedly be filled with lessons, interactions, and experiences that cannot be predicted. Our class cannot wait for the many adventures that lie ahead!

This J-term Paideia 450 course focuses on the history of the apartheid and political unrest surrounding land restitution in South Africa. Professors Martin Klammer and Richard Mtisi will be leading this course, using their backgrounds in History, Africana Studies, and English. For those of you at home unfamiliar with South African history: let us give you a quick overview.

The apartheid (meaning “apartness” in Afrikaans) is one of the most infamous political movements for racial segregation. It began in 1948 and continued until the early 1990s. This systematic racism robbed the African majority of their rights, land, and livelihood. Nelson Mandela was a revolutionary that lead South Africa to democracy and eliminated the apartheid when he became president in 1994. But how does a country recover from generations of racial segregation and political prejudice? Answer: it takes time, and it is not as simple as it appears.

Land restitution is an excellent case study of these issues. During the apartheid, black Africans were displaced from their homes and farmland. In fact, according to one of our readings, the black majority was only allowed to live on 7% of the total land in South Africa. This crippled them economically, as they do not have any natural resources to utilize, even though they have greater political freedom now. This demonstrates why returning the land to the original African owners is a hot topic in South African politics. How should white Africans be displaced? How is the land divided again? Should the government pay individuals to restitute the land? If undeveloped land is given, should the government pay the new landowners to create infrastructure? These are all questions that our course seeks answers to. Our professors’ vast knowledge and passion for these issues will lead us through the country.

Our trip consists of visits to Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, and Cape Town. Within these, we will be visiting museums, conversing with government officials, and witnessing a variety of communities. These will include Hillbrow, Soweto, Sophiatown, Makuleke Village, and District 6. We will be departing from Chicago on January 8th, and arriving in Johannesburg on January 10th. More details of these specific experiences to come!

Finally, allow us to introduce ourselves. We will be the blog coordinators throughout the trip, updating based on our adventures and lessons every couple days!

Lauren Bristol is a junior nursing major from Webster, Minnesota. She is currently living in Rochester, Minnesota doing a year of clinical rotations at Mayo Clinic Hospitals. In her free time, Lauren enjoys photography, hiking with her dogs, and running. She is looking forward to witnessing the vibrant culture and resilience of South Africans amidst the background of environmental crises and widespread racism.

Lyndsay Monsen is a senior communication studies major from Highland Park, IL. On campus, she works for Chips, plans SAC Concerts through her position as a co-chair, and is involved with various groups through College Ministries. After Luther, she’s hoping to start a career in outdoor ministry, but first she’s excited to experience South African culture and learn about how its history still impacts the country today.

Munsanda Muleya is a senior majoring in Economics and Management. She is an international student from Lusaka, Zambia. Being from Southern Africa, she is enthused with South African history and its contribution to the country's economic and political climate. She is particularly looking to understand the issue of land, and the potential impact it might have towards the progression of marginalized communities in South Africa.

Stay tuned as we update on our arrival and activities in South Africa. We are excited to share their stories and our experiences with you all!

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