Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Where Our Travels took Me During My 2016 Trip to South Africa

Recommendations and Suggestions for places to go in South Africa
By Daphne Muse
The Goddess of Travel and Wanderlust must be embedded in my DNA, for I have had the most compelling journeys.  With one eerie exception (Guyana in 1970), all my journeys have been quite remarkable.  I have journeyed to remote villages in Europe, gone deep in the bush in Tanzania and Suriname, languished on beaches in the West Indies, driven 850 miles of Cuba with my dear friend Mary Louise Patterson, and most recently spent a month in South Africa. 
While I’m writing an extensive piece focusing on the observations I made and conversations had with amazing people I met during my month in South Africa, I wanted to share these links to some of my most memorable places and experiences.
 In 2009, I did the grassroots tour of South Africa with Prexy Nesbit (  There I met activists, grandmothers, museum curators and artists.   On this trip in January 2016, I joined my dear friends and consummate travelers Mary Lou Patterson and Sumiko Takeda.  We engaged with more people across the class and color spectrum from former ANC activists who are now government officials to “Born Frees” (post-apartheid children) and Afrikaners to members of the one percent and Uber drivers. We stayed with friends Trevor and Thelma Fowler, their adult daughters and a nine-year-old granddaughter.  Their home is in the upper middle class neighborhood of Observatory, near Houghton in Johannesburg.   Trevor was Mandela’s chief of staff and now serves as the manager for the City of Johannesburg.  Thelma is an architect.  They devoted so much of their personal time, energy and extensive knowledge and history of their country.  It made our trips so memorable for all the right reasons.
In my travels, I’ve always made sure to go into communities/villages, stay there if I can and get a real sense of how people’s day to day lives unfold.  It provides a much more in depth view into the flow and psyche of a country.  You also get a closer look at how the politics and policies do or do not translate into people’s lives.  I encourage you take public transportation or hire Uber drivers to take you into various neighborhoods, for they really know how life rolls where locals live. 

Everything in nature really is linked and we are doing the planet and our own species a tremendous disservice, as we contribute to the ongoing slaughter and extinction of other species occurs.
The Cradle of Human Kind—Here I stood on the most affirming and significant place, I’ve ever been on Earth.  My spirit was grounded and soul squared with my heart and mind.
The Kruger National Park, especially Skukuza and Satara
Along with seeing hundreds of animals from elephants, Springboks and lions to hippos, rhinos and dung beetles (my favorite), we saw a marvelous array of beautiful birds.  The tenacious dung beetle can bury dung 250 times heavier than itself in one night. I highly recommend the night tours and the magical carpet of the exquisitely adorned , night sky in the Southern Hemisphere; now, that’s really some breathtaking dancing with the stars.
The Indian Ocean at False Bay—There I highly recommend staying at the Blue on Blue B&B in St. James, a town that has an old school Santa Monica, back in the day beatnik and hippie vibe.  The B&B is owned by my former student Dorothy Yumi Garcia and her husband Tom Harding--
Table Mountain—I have yet to go to the top to experience another manifestation of the true majesty nature, for on my first trip it was socked in with fog and this time, it was too windy to ascend.  The winds also prevented us from traveling further to Cape Agulhas, the southern-most tip of Africa.
God’s WindowThis is another absolutely breathtaking testament to the power and beauty of our planet. 

Museums and Galleries
These galleries and museums feature the works of some of South Africa’s renowned contemporary artists including Florine Demosthene, Robert Pruitt, Ziyanda Majozi and Jonathan Freemantle.
Museum Africa--
Gallery Momo--
The Apartheid Museum--
The Mandela House --
The Slave Lodge
The District Six Museum--
Gateway Guides
The Orbit Jazz Club--
This is the wine route in Stellenbosch, (Cape Town  I highly recommend Fair View Winery (, especially their culinary Nirvana of a masterpiece:  the cheese platter.
(Did not make it to this winery.)
I encourage you to hire Uber drivers or friends to take you into various neighborhoods, for they really know how life rolls where the local people live and sometimes work. Some of the neighborhoods in which we lived or visited included:  Houghton, Observatory, Yeoville, Melville, District Nine, St. James, Constantina & the township of Soweto.  
 Soweto, District Nine and Yeoville fascinated me the most.  Soweto and District Nine have histories that are integral to the antiapartheid movement and that history and its ongoing impact are reflected in the museums, stories told and public policies graphically reflected in people’s daily lives.  Yeoville is referred to as the Pan African, rainbow suburb of South Africa and encompasses Bellevue, Bellevue East, Bellevue Central, Highlands and Randview.  It’s culturally diverse, has a strong street life vibe and buzzes with young intellectuals and artists.  Yeoville can be a bit dicey, for those not accustomed to navigating off the beaten path.
The Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town where the houses are painted in an array of vibrant colors--
For those of you who wish to experience Archbishop Desmond Tutu in his religious/spiritual milieu, he conducts a 7:00 AM Friday morning service at in Cape Town.
First Thursdays in Cape Town—
We found exquisite items from jewelry to fabric and truly iconic art to the art of fashion, which really rolls out marvelously in South Africa.  While I’m not a big fan of malls, I found those we went to felt more like villages and included shops, grocery stores, boutiques, cafes and cinemas.
Amatuli—A mother lode of amazing fabrics, furniture, iconic sculptures, and jewelry in the design center of Joburg.
Rosebank Mall—Shops galore, including the Johannesburg rooftop flea market and great cafes.
Select Galleries in Graskop—
Great Second hand stores where I found great jewelry and scored some literary treasures as well—
Twenty-Seven Boxes Mall--
Mangwanani African Spa—Be prepared to traverse pot hole filled dirt roads and a raging river up into the bush to a serene journey of renewal, where each section of your body is massaged by a different masseuse--
The Duchess of Wiseacre—Cape Town
Harry’s Pancakes--Grasskop
Moyo Zoo Lake--Johannesburg
Tashas—throughout the country
Goats Do Roam at Fairview Winery—Stellenbosch (Cape Town)
I read the local and regional dailies, along with books and magazines while I travel.  Found several treasures including Maru byBessie Head and Song Makers by J G Goodacre and S. Makosana.  I’ve also listed others below.
House and Garden South Africa edition
Lowveld Living—Lifestyle Magazine
Apartheid:  A Collection of Writings on South African Racism by South Africans—Alex LaGuma, Editor
Craftart in South Africa:  Creative Intersections by Elbe Coetsee
Awesome South Africa--
A Brand New Day by Nelson Mandela --
Izinyanya by p.naidoo--
South African Coasts--
Africa's Finest--
Hidden Capetown--
Halala Madiba: Nelson Mandela in Poetry edited by Richard Bartlett
Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise Art by Diego Rivera—Found this jewel at, a secondhand bookstore in the Melville District of Joburg .
QUAGGA Rare Books & Art—
Daphne Muse is a writer, social commentator and poet living in Oakland, California.  She made her first trip to Africa in 1971, where she learned how the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere moved the country from the clutches of colonialism to an independent nation that now has a woman vice president.,

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