• Choral Singing in Namibia and South Africa

Saying Goodbye to South Africa

Greetings to our readers!

Today is our last day in Capetown before we pack our bags and head  back to temperatures of nearly 90 degrees difference (We're not trying to think about that right now). Our time in Capetown has been a truly unique experience, and many of the group members would agree that it is a city to visit again someday.

After we arrived in Capetown the evening of the 23rd, we plunged head on into a full schedule of sight-seeing, singing, and shopping.  On Friday, we visited the District Six Museum, which described an 80 year period of apartheid where nearly 60,000 people were removed from their homes in this historic district of Capetown. A melting pot of many races and creeds, District Six was perhaps one of Capetown's most culturally rich regions. The homes in the area were bulldozed to make room for more white housing, a project that did not succeed. As we listened to our guide, Noor, describe his father's house being torn down and the heartbreak of thousands of people, the ugliness of apartheid became real, but the power of forgiveness also was brought into the light.

That evening, we worked with youth choirs at the Old Apostolic Church in Khayelitsha under the direction of conductor Mongani Magatyana. We learned music purely by ear and repetition, eventually putting together a song that Magatyana had composed to spread the word for HIV/AIDS prevention. The rich vibrato and movement of the South African choral tradition was absolutely mesmerizing.

On the 25th, we enjoyed a day of sight-seeing and relaxation at Cape Point National Park and Fishhoek Beach. Each of the group members can now say that they have flown over the entire continent of Africa and stood at its most southwestern tip. We felt extremely small as we looked out over the Cape to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, knowing the next mass of land was Antarctica. We eventually got to enjoy the ocean, heading to Fishhoek Beach for an afternoon of swimming, sunbathing, and pizza, thanks to Peter and Solveig Kjeseth, owners of Sunny Cove guest house. It was the perfect ending to a day of soaking up the beauty of South Africa.

Relaxation was put behind us for a day as we prepared for a full Sunday of singing. In the morning, we attended a church service at Eureka Lutheran Church, where we joined in with the church's choir in singing Hope For Resolution, a piece written in honor of Mandela and de Klerk. During the afternoon, we toured the Evangelical Lutheran Church on Strand Street, which is the oldest authentic church on the continent of Africa, beginning its services in 1780.  We rehearsed/performed in the space, enjoyed learning about its pipe organ, and climbed to nearly the top of its clock tower.  The beauty of this church was only a preview to the splendor of St. George's Cathedral, where we performed in the evening.

Monday was another day of sight-seeing and relaxation. We were disappointed that we could not go to the Mandela Gateway Museum and Robben Island because of ferry breakdown, but instead we enjoyed a trip to the top of Table Mountain, a picturesque view of Capetown and the ocean. Once again, we felt the smallness of the human race as we gazed out over the whole of Capetown and the waters below. We continued our day in Franshoek with two wine tours, gifts to us from Dr. Peterson and Dr. Last. It is amazing all the things you can learn about wine!

Thank you to our readers for following us during this adventure of a lifetime. We are truly blessed to have been able to enjoy this time in Africa, and we look forward to telling you more stories and singing for some of you when we return. This evening, we leave for London on BA 58 at 8:45 pm (12:45 pm CST). We will then fly out of London Heathrow for Chicago on BA 295 at 11:55 am on Wednesday (3:55 am CST). We will arrive in Chicago approximately at 2:35 pm and head back to Decorah, weather permitting.

For family and Luther students, we will be giving a concert in Noble Recital Hall (NRH) at 7:30 pm on February 7th, and you will not want to miss it! As for pictures, do not despair. The process for getting photos on the blog has been difficult, but we hope to put some of the photos of the trip up on the blog during our January break. Please continue to check the blog for posts and photos!

Fred and Shayla