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 ‚ÄúCape Town Hip Hop from the Inside,‚Äù was one of the 60 SAS trips spread over the six-day stop in South Africa‚Ä¶ and it was a hit.
‚ÄúWe showed up at Dat‚Äôs 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,‚Äù explained Hayden Ford, a history student from the University of Rochester. ‚ÄúWe 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‚Äôs barbecue. It was the real deal. We didn‚Äôt feel at all like outsiders in his home‚Äù
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. ‚ÄúThe music class I‚Äôm taking now is definitely the best music class I‚Äôve ever taken,‚Äù Owen explained. ‚ÄúYou can sit in a classroom and learn about music at home, but here you actually get to experience it. Most of Dat‚Äôs music was historically representative about what happened during apartheid‚Äîit 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.‚Äù
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.