Press Release (ePRNews.com) - SAN FRANCISCO - Apr 24, 2019 - Wright Enterprises based in San Francisco and Dallas, shares news of African Opportunities from San Diego Based SisterCircle Co-Founder.
UCLA Black Bruins’ Successful Apartheid Divesture Plan Pathway to New Possibilities in South Africa
In November 2018, SISTERcircle returned from an amazing trip to the Motherland. The bi-annual “Sojourn to Southern Africa 2018” took place November 15 – 29 consisting of three cities in South Africa, Johannesburg; Durban; and Cape Town. It ended with a 3-day extension to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana for safari.
Durban was by far the favorite place among travelers, hands down. This was mostly due to the invitation from, preparation for, and reception by Mrs. Mathabo Kunene, wife of the late beloved Professor Dr. Masizi Kunene, an esteemed UCLA Black Alumnus. Professor Kunene was born in Durban and Mrs. Kunene has been a leading businesswoman there and abroad for the past 40 years, with notable successes from Los Angeles, California to South Africa. She has implored Black Bruins for over 20 years to invest and do business in South Africa. To quite literally reap the benefits and yield the fruits of Bruin labor in contributing to the end of Apartheid in 1994, and the subsequent opening up of economic, as well as social, political, and educational opportunities.
The Sojourn to Southern Africa pays homage to those notable alumni who were students in the 1980’s, and led an international divestment campaign at UCLA. The divestment and anti-apartheid campaign spread from UCLA to the UC system, across the nation, and eventually around the world. Eric White, a student athlete and member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, was the engineer, and Professor Masizi Kunene was the motivation, for life in South Africa was an abomination to human dignity as depicted in “The Last Grave at Dimbaza”, a clandestine documentary smuggled out of South Africa and shown by Professor Kunene in his classes. Black Bruins empathized, and got to work exploring policies and practices they could exploit as students that might have an impact to help liberate Blacks in South Africa.
At UCLA, Black students devised a plan that forced the major banks off campus and pressured them to divest over 15 million dollars from South Africa in a few short months. This strategy was effective, and was shared with other university student leaders. The fire was lit, and resulted in billions of dollars being removed from the South African Apartheid economy, applying the needed pressure that turned the corner in the struggle to end apartheid.
In 2018, the City of Durban and the Kunene Foundation laid out the red carpet for UCLA Black Alumni, as they did in 2016. The first stop was a return visit to Injabulo Senior Primary School, where Pen Pal Projects were initiated in 2016 and 2018 to connect youth in Los Angeles with students in Durban. US Consulate General joined the group for KwaZulu-Natal, Ms. Sherry Zalika Sykes, who made a special trip to meet and travel with the group to view the school, and offer the services of her office to assist with any projects in Durban. A presentation of the book “We Are Our Ancestors Keepers” was made to Principal Following the school visit. A special Bruin tribute was paid at the gravesite of beloved Professor Dr. Masizi Kunene.
Later that evening, the Kunene Foundation hosted a gala dinner at the International Conference Center in Durban, which was attended by notables, and the “Who’s Who” of Durban. From artists, activists, and philanthropists, and enjoyable evening was had by all as representatives from the City of Durban including Mr. Philip Sithole, Deputy City Manager, the eThekwini Municipality, and Kunene Foundation. Each spoke to the legacy of Professor Kunene and the work of the Kunene Foundation; giving accolades to UCLA Black Alumni for their role in pushing the divestment campaign forward and creating the action that applied economic boycotts to South Africa from students and universities across the US. Their actions became the cornerstone that turned the corner for the anti-apartheid movement. St. Ann’s Catholic Choir and Inkosazane (Princess) Mkabayi – A Symphonic Fantasy gave breathtaking performances. The next day, a VIP City Tour along the Inanda Heritage Route on a double decker bus followed a private tour of the Kunene Museum, with lunch at an award-winning restaurant in the city.
What was most striking upon meeting other African American travelers throughout Johannesburg and Cape Town was that none, not one, had visited Durban. Make no mistake, Cape Town has all the amenities you could possibly want and is the primary destination for most travelers to Africa – breathtaking views like Table Mountain and coastlines including the “Cape of Good Hope”, wine tasting, huge malls on the waterfront, a ferris wheel, expensive homes that line the rocky coastline neighborhoods, a fancy boat ride to Robben Island…all the mainstream, touristy things people want to see in Africa; all places Blacks were prevented from going during Apartheid.
In contrast, Durban has CULTURE. As the historical home of the Zulus, Durban remains the epicenter of Black (and Brown) life in South Africa. And indeed of all the major cities in South Africa, Durban has the largest percentage of Black and Indian people. And it has the BEST coastline, because the climate in the region is tropical and the water is much warmer than Cape Town. There is a gorgeous inverted garden right next to the beach, and a beautiful boardwalk that stretches for miles. One look and you can see that the waterfront is rapidly developing, as there are cranes everywhere, building a modern infrastructure in an ancient city with rich, rich history. In city heavily promotes business, trade and investment, and is looking for businesses to set up shop in Durban.
I found it interesting that from travel agents to tourists, no one seems to connect to the beauty and history of Durban. Is that global racism rearing its ugly head once again? The Black and Brown city is not promoted, thus it doesn’t benefit from the economic infusion by tourists to its economy to the extent of other cities. Black folks who travel for different reasons to Africa are missing out!!
When we go back in 2020, we will insist on spending FOUR days in Durban. Because there is so much to see, and so many good people to meet, and business opportunities to profit from. Durban has a coastline just like Cape Town, but BETTER because it’s warmer. And the region of Durban is tropical, whereas Cape Town is coastal and brrrrr, cold! Durban has beautiful boardwalks, and gardens next to the water, plenty to capture attention, relax the mind, and help you connect to the motherland. All around you can see those huge cranes, and lots of development happening.
Durban is a rapidly expanding city. And Black Bruins have, and plan to continue to lay roots there, creating a home away from home for people from the Diaspora coming to visit South Africa. A home base, if you will. A place to retreat, rejuvenate, and offer Black people from the Diaspora a place to connect, explore, and taste the real culture of South Africa.
The next Sojourn to Southern Africa is September 19 – 30, 2019.
Connect. Heal. Empower.
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