South Africa has become a destination of profound significance for many Black Americans seeking to explore their ancestral roots and strengthen their cultural identity. As more individuals embark on this transformative journey, the importance of Black Americans traveling to South Africa has come into focus. By immersing themselves in the history, heritage, and vibrant culture of the country, travelers are finding empowerment, connection, and a renewed sense of self.
"We recognize the impact being in the Motherland can have on your soul and your imagination, and your sense of self value. That's why we jumped on the opportunity to invest in the African Centre for the Study of the United States at WITS University in Johannesburg," said Reaux Fareal, Parlay Foundation Founder.
The center recently hosted students from Morehouse College, many of whom were visiting the continent for the very first time. The students were part of the Oprah Winfrey Scholarship Program. While touring Johannesburg, they were able to visit the campus of Witwatersrand University (WITS) and connect with students who look like them and are embarking upon similar ambitions in life.
Recently, the Parlay Foundation donated $R9000 to WITS to be used for this very reason - to host Black American students in Johannesburg, introducing them to South Africa, and all the many wonderful opportunities which are available on the continent. "We are grateful for Parlay and other organizations who recognize the need for young people to broaden their horizons and re-visualize the African continent," said Dr. Asad el Malik, a Professor at WITS and native of USA. Dr. Malik is the Director of The Diaspora Project in South Africa.
Africa in general has been promoted as poor and deprived of most of the world's advancements. These Morehouse students saw another version of South Africa. They were able to see just how advanced South Africa really is but also how many American products, food, fashion, and even music is embraced in Johannesburg. For many of the students it was an awakening.
"The African Centre for the Study of the United States understands we must begin to bridge the gap between young brothers and sisters on both sides of the Atlantic," said Dr. Malik.
Reaux Fareal chimed in, "the disconnect began when Africans were enslaved in America and forced to adapt to American behavior, language, and lifestyle. Slowly over the years, we began to lose the connection between our souls and our true birthplace. There is value in knowing who you are, what you have mastered, what you have overcome, what you have capability to produce... there is freedom in that and that kind of freedom produces progress."
For Black Americans, South Africa represents a unique opportunity to delve into the rich and complex narratives of the African diaspora. Visiting historical sites like Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held captive, or exploring the bustling streets of Soweto, birthplace of the anti-apartheid movement, enables travelers to witness firsthand the resilience and strength of the Black community. By engaging with local communities, sharing stories, and embracing shared experiences, Black Americans can forge powerful connections and gain a deeper understanding of their own heritage.
This meaningful travel experience also fosters a sense of empowerment among Black Americans. Standing on the same soil that witnessed the struggles and triumphs of their ancestors, these Morehouse students found inspiration and a renewed commitment to promoting social justice and equality. The connections made and lessons learned in South Africa can be transformative, influencing activism and advocacy efforts here in the 'States.' By amplifying their voices and sharing their experiences, these students can contribute to the ongoing fight against systemic racism and the pursuit of a more inclusive society.
South Africa, with its rich history and vibrant culture, continues to hold immense importance for Black Americans seeking to reclaim their heritage, strengthen their identity, and make a lasting impact on their communities. "We are honored to help the African Centre at WITS host Morehouse, one our elite HBCU's, but I am committed to providing this same experience to all of our HBCU's. Parlay is honred to partner with WITS for the opportunity of helping our students learn abroad," said Reaux Fareal.