Thursday, 21 June 2012

Johns Hopkins takes over Parliament!

Tuesday was our visit to Parliament! I felt so official. It was amazing to experience history. You could literally see the transformation once we walked from the old building (it was more Victorian style because it had LOTS of British influence under colonialism) to the new building built in the 90s. We visited all the rooms where Parliament sits and the tour guide did a great job of explaining how the political system works. I'm still trying to grasp the ins and out of the way parliament works but I'm sure when I get back to the states I will have a better understanding.

The shield consists of the sun at the top, the protea leaves, the drum and the constitution.

These gates illustrates the security we had to go through to gain access. But Johns Hopkins is pretty resilient. We made it.

These two above pictures are of the Keiskamma Tapestry. It was 112 meters long and 70 cm high. It was made by the women of the Keiskammma Act Project. It shows a history of South Africa and begins with the earliest inhabitants of the region, the San, the Khoi and the Xhosa, continues with the coming of the settlers and their interactions and moves through the 19th century and 10th centrury (apartheid and ends with the first democratic election in 1994).
This room was beautiful. It had a heavy Victorian feel to it.

One of the meeting rooms. I don't know the formal name of the room or what exactly goes on in here. Honestly we went through a lot of rooms!

The detail in the panels!

Parliament consists of 2 houses: the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. The National Assembly makes laws. They also elect the president. The National Council of Provinces represents the provinces (9 provincial delegations).
So the people vote for a political party, which is usually the ANC or African National Congress because it emerged as the “new government” after apartheid was thrown away. The problem today or as a contemporary perspective is the social distance between the people and parliament. There are so many coalitions and alliances within the ANC and the ANC holds a lot of the electoral power.
The people have raised expectations of the ANC, they thought the party who they THOUGHT was the reason behind apartheid ending would gain power and do right by the people but the same people living in shacks in the 80s are living in them today. So you might ask can’t the people just overthrow the ANC?
South African flag
That’s where it gets complicated. The ANC has tons of electoral power so even though there has been declining levels of support, it still won’t be enough to change anything. The ANC is eroding and fragmenting because of the levels of inequality has put pressure on the ANC to deliver. 

This is one of the newer rooms that was built in the late 90s. Compare this room to the other one with the detailed panels. We witnessed history!
An old robe that members of Parliament would wear.

I think there will probably be a change in the future (not soon though) though because most of the voters now (young unemployed people) don’t have any attachments to the ANC because they weren’t alive to witness apartheid and the whole transition to national liberation. People have these rosy dreams of the ANC as uniting the people as the ‘rainbow nation’ but the fact remains that South Africa’s economy and social systems are still effected by the apartheid regime.

Another room. 

Can't escape the view of mountains.
Guest blogger: Chantel Fletcher

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