An Australian law student on exchange in Cape Town


I have been meaning to update this blog for over a week now; I have procrastinated. But yesterday, whilst reading Franziska’s ‘organisational management’ assignment (instead of doing my own homework), I discovered that procrastination is symptomatic of a fear of failure and is actually an expression of anxiety rather than laziness. In the words of Arya Stark: ‘The man who fears losing has already lost. Fear cuts deeper than swords’. Well, tonight I face my fear and resume my blogging. En garde!

The first thing that I want to share is my appointment as a teaching fellow with the South African Youth Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative (CLASI). Every Thursday I head out to Khayelitsha to teach foundations of South African constitutional law to year 11 and 12 students at the Centre of Science and Technology School. The reality, of course, is that I am their student, and they know it.

‘Khaya’ is South Africa’s fastest growing township and, with half a million residents, one of its largest. A product of the apartheid-era Group Areas Act, this is a Black African township in which 70% of residents live in ‘informal housing’ (tin shacks that lean northwest every afternoon when the Cape Doctor blows in off the Indian Ocean).

Xhosa is the dominant language in Khaya. English is a second, third or fourth language. Stéphanie and I have taken up Xhosa classes at UCT, but to my ears Xhosa sounds like music, not language. I have yet to even master the three basic clicks. No wonder my students occasionally forget their otherwise-impeccable manners and giggle at the uMlungu in their midst ‘… you know nothing’.

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