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Young US councillors visit Joburg Print E-mail
01 August 2008

The visitors from Fulton County, Atlanta

Young commissioners from the United States spent time in Joburg as part of the Global Youth Exchange Programme. They visited historical and cultural sites and spent time in a local school.

Council Speaker Nkele Ntingane and Dr John Eaves Chairman of Fulton County, Atlanta
Council Speaker Nkele Ntingane and Dr John Eaves Chairman of Fulton County, Atlanta

A GROUP of young commissioners from the United States is in Johannesburg as part of the Global Youth Exchange Programme.

The 11 Americans, from Fulton County - in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, in the state of Georgia - arrived in the city of gold on Friday, 25 July. They were met at the airport by officials in the Office of the Speaker, and taken to a bed and breakfast in Linden, northern Joburg for their first night of what was to be a very busy week.

On Saturday, Joburg student councillors waited impatiently at Metro Centre in Braamfontein for the visitors. As soon as they arrived the two groups began a debate in the council chamber. The young commissioners from Fulton County were first to present; after each presentation there was a lively question and answer session. The animated discussion from both sides was very educational.

The debate wrapped up in time for lunch, when the Speaker of council, Nkele Ntingane, warmly welcomed the visitors to South Africa and wished them well for the duration of their stay. John Eaves responded by thanking the Speaker for her hospitality and the warm African welcome they had received. After the official signing of a memorandum of understanding, lunch was served.

Over lunch there was music and dancing; but the party really started later in the afternoon, when the South Africans and Americans got to know each other in a more informal atmosphere.

That evening the Americans watched a performance of African Footprint, which blew them away. Africa came alive on the stage and the visitors were enthralled. A long day finally came to an end and the weary guests made their way to the guesthouse for some well-deserved rest.

Sunday was 702 day, when the visitors joined over 51 000 others for the Discovery 702 Walk the Talk. Several local student councillors accompanied them as the trod their way through the streets of Greenside and Emmarentia.

After the walk they were entertained in the hospitality tent, where they were introduced to bunny chow. After a brief rest it was off to Bruma Lake and shopping. Supper that evening was authentic Indian cuisine at Bismillah in Fordsburg.

Emotional visit
It was more business and sightseeing on Monday, and the delegation was at Constitutional Hill bright and early. The visitors were not to know that they would experience a roller coaster ride of emotion that day. Seth Mazibuko and Deborah, who were inmates in the notorious prisons on the hill during apartheid, gave the visitors a first-hand account of the treatment at the prison. A chilling account of the torture they received at the hands of their captors brought a tear to many an eye.

Mazibuko was one of the student leaders arrested during the Soweto uprising in 1976, and he agreed to accompany the group on its trip to Soweto.

In the township, the party followed the route the students took as they marched through the streets. A stop was made at the site where Hector Pietersen was shot, from where the visitors and local student councillors made their way to the Hector Pietersen Museum.

Throughout the trip Mazibuko gave a factual account of exactly what took place on the day. He also acted as tour guide at the museum and his first-hand account brought to life many of the exhibits. Before leaving the young councillors spent a moment of silence and reflection in the Memorial Hall.

Lunch was at Nambitha and a drive around Soweto ended a very emotional day for everyone.

On Wednesday the delegation visited Leshata Secondary School, to see how things were done in a township school. The excited learners welcomed the Americans with banners and a song by the school choir.

The delegation will also visit the Gauteng Legislature and the Apartheid Museum. It will also take part in the Junior Mayors' Community Developing Project on Saturday, 2 August.


Related stories:

Student Council leadership camp

US opportunity for Joburg learners

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Last Updated on 19 February 2013