South Africa, Day 5: Redressing the past.

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Here’s where it starts to get heavy. On Day 4 at the Solms-Delta winery, we began to delve deeper into the issues of race and culture in South Africa today. It’s definitely a country in transition, still reeling from its history of apartheid. But while I expected an unstable, even corrupt and crime-ridden society, instead I witnessed one full of hope, optimism and possibility, even while the future is very much unknown.

On Day 5, following our obligatory omelet and breakfast spread, we packed our emergency box of pastries and headed to Eerste River, a colored community on the outskirts of Cape Town. Our appointment was at the Eerste River Hospital, where we were to meet hospital CEO Dr. Visser. South Africa operates a state health system, and the country deals with many health issues, including AIDS and outbreaks of tuberculosis that have been exacerbated by the AIDS situation. South Africa’s previous president Thabo Mbeki was considered an AIDS denialist, and while he was in office his personal philosophy became government policy. During that time, necessary antiretrovirals were denied to hospitals trying to treat AIDS patients. Under current president Jacob Zuma, that policy has been reversed; though, after being accused of rape by an AIDS activist and declaring it to be consensual, Zuma stated that he did not take precautions since he “took a hot shower.” I’m sure that sort of misinformation isn’t helping the matter.

Eerste River Hospital.

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