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A Hip-Hop Pit Stop in Gugulethu Township

Photo Credit: Julie Strand
Hip-Hop Musician Dat, with Bennett Rustad from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, at his home in Gugulethu Township

Dr. Julie Strand, who previously brought her class to a Brazilian samba school, planned another evening of harmony, history, and hospitality in Cape Town. On the first day in South Africa, Semester at Sea students headed out to meet with Dat, a local hip-hop artist, at his home in Gugulethu Township. The field program, called “Cape Town Hip Hop from the Inside,” was one of the 60 SAS trips spread over the six-day stop in South Africa… and it was a hit.

“We showed up at Dat’s home, he pulled up milk crates for us to sit on and he just started telling us his whole philosophy and what his songs were about,” explained Hayden Ford, a history student from the University of Rochester. “We were seated in his garage, his niece was playing with dolls in the corner. There was a dog barking in the background, cars going by and music blaring off in the distance and we could smell his neighbor’s barbecue. It was the real deal. We didn’t feel at all like outsiders in his home”

After a long conversation about hip-hop and history at Dat’s home, he brought the students with him to meet a few other musicians at the local community center in Gugulethu Township. Several Xhosa and English-language hip-hop artists were busy preparing for an upcoming community performance, but they warmly welcomed the student visitors. A small group of girls from the township even invited the bolder SAS students to join them in their dance rehearsal.

Liz Owen, who studies music at the University of Virginia, also attended the hip-hop trip and had only positive things to say about her global experience thus far. “The music class I’m taking now is definitely the best music class I’ve ever taken,” Owen explained. “You can sit in a classroom and learn about music at home, but here you actually get to experience it. Most of Dat’s music was historically representative about what happened during apartheid—it was all relevant to the politics of South Africa and how the effects of apartheid have continued. On this trip, we saw dancers in conjunction with the music we were listening to and it ingrained it in my mind how important music is and what it actually means to people.”

The opportunity to experience music firsthand is far from over. Still to come on the musical voyage around the world–a shipboard concert in India and a Japanese puppet theater visit.

Photo Credit: Julie Strand
Dat, Liz, Hayden, and Dr. Strand’s music class with several local hip-hop artists at the Gugulethu Community Center in Cape Town
Topics
  • Arts
  • Culture
  • History
  • Life on Land

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