We’re currently testing a Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trip to South Africa, and Domestic Volunteer Anna is participating.  However, before she left, she had some studying to do:

I am very lucky to be a part of Franciscan Mission Services’ trip to South Africa for a two-week mission and global education experience.  Never have I been on this shore, nor on this continent before and I have been looking forward to this trip for a long time.

Prior to departure, my knowledge of South Africa and the history was pretty limited.  I knew of Nelson Mandela – that he was a good man, a Nobel Prize winner, and an inspiration to Dr. King, but other than that the history of apartheid was a mystery to me.

I ran across a South African musical called “Ipi Ntombi” in high school that I enjoyed, which got me really interested in the music, but I didn’t know much about the culture outside of that.  I also “tried” to learn Zulu (one of the native languages) in high school, because I thought it sounded cool.

My little familiarity with South African culture did contribute to my interest for the trip and once I was committed, Br. Paul offered some DVDs to watch as preparation.  One of them was “Amandla! : A Revolution in Four Part Harmony” – a documentary on the anti-apartheid movement through the voices of singing.  Music?  And some dancing?  Sounded good to me.

The visuals were striking, as was the history.  But what struck me the most was the power emitted from these people’s throats!  Even the scenes of trials and punishment were over-powered by the passion that either softly or loudly, mostly loudly, was expressed.  And what was even more striking was the acceptance of public singing – how song is so much a part of their culture that spontaneous music doesn’t cause people to stare or get out their cameras.  Instead, people join in.  Song is community as much as culture.

I’d recommend watching this film, not only to get a tiny grasp of the movement, but for a perspective on music and how it changes not only a community, but a country.

Anna Robinson serves as a full-time volunteer at the Franciscan Mission Service office as communications associate. She graduated from Cardinal Stritch University in 2011 with a degree in Communication Arts and a minor in Music Composition.  She is currently spending two weeks in South Africa testing our Short-Term Mission and Global Awareness Trip curcurriculum.