A Guest Column by Madisonian
Exploring the Complexity of
As for the girls attending KMC, I found myself struggling to keep up with them. Maybe it was that their school year starts in January and ends in
December. And I was just coming in when the units were hard. But I think the real reason I struggled in the beginning was that everyone was
so independent. Unlike Madison the responsibilities of a teen seemed more college-like than teen-like. The teacher’s job was to teach and
support the students. They didn’t set up any websites that could be useful or give us the notes, which was what I was used to in the Madison
Metropolitan School District. The kids took their own notes and made their own binders for every subject. And my classmates didn’t even see
kids in the MMSD do their homework for an hour then study for another hour and hang out with friends. But since final exams were close
everyone studied as much and best as they could.
The schools perimeter was huge. It almost looked like some of the colleges I’d seen. It had departments where about two to four classrooms
would be located. There was a math department, science, geography, English, art, drama, etc. I often found myself lost and have to have
someone assist me to find my way to the classes. One of the students also informed me that this was one of the smallest private schools.
Compared to MMSD schools you would have to multiply the school by almost five to get to the size of KMC. When later visiting another school,
an all boys’ school called St. Johns, I soon realized that KMC was a pretty small school. Some of the schools looked more like universities than
It seems that everyone in Joburg loved greenery and flowers. There was barely any chopping of trees, and a lot of green thumbs. KMC had
about twenty full-time gardeners to help water the plants and to do minor reconstructing around the premises.
I also noticed the same cliques of girls as what I’ve known: the jocks, the popular people, the nerds, etc. For outdoor activities some girls liked
to hang out with guy friends at the malls. Or some would enjoy playing water polo. Others would rather be at home with friends or just alone.
We were dismissed from school around 2:30p.m. But, since it was time to study for exams, students would stay in the library till 6 p.m. studying
and doing other work. Sometimes, I soon found myself in the place with those students.
People, hospitals, houses, fire and police departments, business offices, government, streets, and sidewalks. If you were to paint a picture
with all the things I just named, you would probably have painted a city. When we think of a city we probably think of LA, Las Vegas, or New
York. But very few would think about the city of Johannesburg or Joburg. Joburg is a large city inside of South Africa. It is the LA of South Africa
where people from small local areas, like townships, come to make their big dreams come true. In Joburg, you can find almost everything:
nature, cities, and even the cradle of humanity. It’s the place where the oldest human bones have been found.
I found that Joburg is not only similar to the United States, but is also similar to Wisconsin. Just like Wisconsin you can find city and suburb.
But, if you drive an hour or two away from the city, you will find nature at its best. For Wisconsin you will find lush green forests, bears, deer,
and the Great Lakes, which make for a wonderful fishing spot. But in South Africa, you will find game reserves, with animals most people will
only see in zoos. A game reserve is a large amount of property (thousands of miles) that someone bought and filled it with animals that will be
free to roam wherever they please. Most game reserves have cabins or large huts where you can leave the city life behind and enjoy nature’s
For my birthday, I went to a game reserve called Zebra Crossing (which I would highly recommend to anyone who visits South Africa.) I stayed
in a two-story cabin that was the size of a large condo. In the morning I enjoyed feeding the meerkats that weren’t shy to ask for food. They
came about a foot close to us and stayed there till someone pulled out raw chicken or fruit salad leftovers. After they ate they would leave us
alone for a couple of hours and then come back for more. The zebra were shy, as they only came to us once, when we had carrots. The
ostriches were always around, sticking close to us. Sometimes they came closer than the meerkats. The giraffes were always in the mountains
where we hiked to go see them. Only one time did the giraffes come down to a small, human-made pond. I also saw a lot of bok and antelope,
but no lions or any sort of predator. Some of the workers at the reserve said they hear a cheetah going across game reserves. But the cheetah
was too scared of people to come near us and so we never saw it.
In South Africa, the housing can be very different depending where you go. The people with stable jobs will stay in machines which are very
common. The poor will be forced on the street to see if they can find scrap to build houses and live in a township. Townships are communities
where small houses are built in an abandon area. These houses may not even be as big as your bedroom. But an entire family, six or seven
people, could live in one. There are big townships and small ones. The small ones could only be about five or ten small buildings, located in an
abandoned area. The bigger townships have hundreds of people, sometimes thousands. I visited the biggest township in Johannesburg called
“Soweto” with a population of over one thousand people (actually 1.3 million people in 2017.) In Soweto people with small shops and portable
carts tried to sell us handcrafted items. They rely on tourists who come in and out, seeking Mandela's old house and other things. People
bargained and some begged for you to purchase their items. I saw a young man trying to impress people in a small crowd. He had made a claw
machine out of garbage and old wires. An older man, who accompanied him, said that he was trying to help him get into a college. It reminded
me of people downtown in Madison or the U.S. alone. People were trying to make some money off talents like dancing and singing.
So a lot of people outside of the continent of Africa may think that in South Africa there are all Black people. Well, that is not true. I’m not saying
that there are no brown faces, but that’s not all. There are white people and they call themselves Afrikaans, and they have their own language.
If you ever hear the language, it sounds like Dutch. There are a lot of Indian people there too. All the cultures mixed together making one big
community. Rich and poor. White, brown, and black. The similarities end with political power because white power still lives on in South Africa
as it does in America or almost anywhere else in the world.
As you can see, South Africa was much like the U.S., but at the same time it was almost like being on a whole other planet.
Editor’s Note: Jasmine Winston, a student in the Madison Metropolitan School District and daughter of Johnny
Winston Jr. and Angela Byars-Winston spent the 2017 fall semester attending school in Johannesburg, South
Africa. The Capital City Hues asked her to keep notes about her visit and write a story about her experience.
When in South Africa, there was one question people always asked me: “How do you like South Africa?”
Well, I always answered “I love it!” or “It’s nice.” But truly, all of South Africa cannot be put into one
sentence. I am not writing this article to scold you about all the stereotypes, but rather to clear the air. Start
with a new page.
My first time at Kingsmead College or KMC was in fifth grade. I was attending for two weeks and in that short
time, I made a lot of friends but had some I would never forget. Coming back, I was no longer in Primary
School. Since they skip middle school, Primary or elementary school in South Africa goes up to seventh
grade. Then you start high school which is in eighth grade.
All the private schools in Johannesburg or Joburg have a uniform. Since KMC is an all girls school, the
uniforms were made covering and they always made sure that there was nothing revealing. Dark blue,
yellow, white, and dark green are KMC colors. The high school’s uniform is a blue, yellow, white, and green
plaid skirt that can be no more than four fingers above the knee. We wore a white blouse with the school’s
name on it in dark green located on the chest pocket. A green blazer with the school’s crest on in was
required to be on when leaving and entering the school. White socks and black dress shoes were also