on December 29, 2009 in Mocha Club with 6 comments by

As many of you know, I got to go to Cape Town, South Africa in May with the Mocha Club. It was an awesome trip. When I got home, I would have told you that I am glad I went but it didn’t really change me.

Here’s the funny thing. It seems that about once a month something will fall into my heart and it will take me back to Cape Town. And in that moment, I realize that Cape Town was completely life-changing.

invictus2This was the case when I saw Invictus last week. Invictus is a movie about the first year that Nelson Mandela was the President of South Africa. It’s about how he worked to bring unity to the people, black and white, and how the country responded to that.

Oh, and Matt Damon is in the movie. Amen.

[Marisa did a beautiful job writing about the movie as well, so you can check that out here.]

I left the movie with a few questions rolling around in my mind. And I don’t know the answers yet.

I am officially shaken up.

Because I’m white. And I was the same age as a lot of the dudes in the movie. And in Cape Town.

So what if I would have been born in Cape Town?

I would have told you all the things that I can tell you about my life now: I’m a Christian, raised by Godly parents, on a path to a normal adult life.

And I would have THOUGHT like the other white people did.

And I would have THOUGHT segregation was good for my country.

And I would have THOUGHT I was RIGHT.

Do you see what I’m saying?

For many of you, racism is still very real where you live. I know that is true here in the South in some ways. But segregation like is shown in this movie, like was real in the 90s in Cape Town, like was real in the 50s in the USA- that isn’t real for me.

It was real in May 2009, when I stood in a campground kitchen, trying to help out the mamas who were cooking lunch for 70+ kids from the slums of Cape Town. There was always a wall there, always something that kept them from really allowing us to help. I thought it was mostly the language barrier, with just a hint of the leftovers of apartheid.

I am so ignorant.

Invictus showed me reality.

Reality says that when those mamas look at me, I look like a white girl born in Cape Town.

And though I don’t think like that girl, I look like her.

And dumb ole me just kept thinking, “if I only I could speak Xhosa cause surely they would hug me and love me if I spoke their language.”  Nevermind the years and years when people, who looked JUST LIKE ME, were horribly unkind and unfair and treated them terribly.

So yeah, I’m a little shaken up. And yeah, Cape Town changed my life. Again last week. I just don’t know how yet. I don’t have the answers.

But Invictus is a great movie. Go see it, and I dare you ask some questions when it’s done.


  1. posted on Dec 29, 2009 at 7:31 AM  |  reply

    I found a blog this weekend that I love. The family lives in Cape Town. Her photos are wonderful and cause you to think you’re right there with her. Let me know if you’d like the web address.

    Now I’ve got to go see that movie.

  2. posted on Dec 29, 2009 at 8:12 AM  |  reply

    oh I have been dying to see that movie . . . who knows when that will happen but maybe before it gets to video at some point . . .

    anyways, thanks for the reminder and for asking the hard questions. The sad truth is that I feel like there’s still a lot of racism and barriers to overcome here too — I know that, a lot of times, there’s that wall you were talking about even with the families I work with in the inner-city . . . it’s hard to undo years and years of hurts I guess!

  3. Heidi S
    posted on Dec 29, 2009 at 9:52 AM  |  reply

    I LOVE this movie! My husband and I just saw it by default because the movie we wanted to see was all filled up. I am SO glad we saw this one.

    We saw it a few days ago and it has been rolling around in my head ever since.

    thanks for your insight, Annie!

  4. posted on Jan 07, 2010 at 12:57 AM  |  reply

    and matt damon NAILED the south african accent. morgan freeman? notsomuch.

  5. posted on Jan 08, 2010 at 9:17 AM  |  reply

    Hi Annie –

    Thank-you for this thoughtful response to a beautiful film and more beautiful country. I am South African. I am white. I am family to many who live in Cape Town. I was in South Africa during the world cup and glued to the screen with the rest of the nation, waiting with bated breath to know if we would taste victory – in every sense of the word.

    When we did you could feel the whole country exhale. And then celebrate. Everything came to a standstill. In the good way. And we held hands and hearts for a day.

    I wanted to share some encouragement. When you write, “I would have thought like the other white people. And I would have thought segregation was good for my country,” this is not necessarily so. ESPECIALLY if you were a white girl from Cape Town. Not to parse words, but just to reassure – there were many, many white people during the Apartheid days who stood up to the Government. The majority of them were English speakers. And most English speakers in SA are congregated in the coastal areas. (White) students at the University of Cape Town were notorious for their anti-apartheid demonstrations. I had friends who were jailed for their refusal to serve in the SA army and fight the border wars against Zim. It was a painful time filled with courage. And if it hadn’t been for both brave folks from many of the 11 language groups in South Africa, change might not have come.

    But we are so very grateful to the Lord that it did. And Madiba and Bishop Tutu played cornerstone roles in that transformation. And my whole family loved this movie for how beautifully it showed Madiba’s understanding of what true leadership is; how to bring a fractured nation together through a common love and a shared victory.

    He is wonderful on every level. No surprise that his birthday is a national holiday!

    I hope you can take this comment not as a criticism but rather as an insight and an encouragement from someone who shares all your attributes and was there. And who loved the movie as much as you did!



  6. Annie
    posted on Jan 08, 2010 at 11:04 AM  |  reply


    I LOVE your comment- not offended at all. It actually makes me super happy. Really fills me with hope. THANK YOU for taking time to write- it really made my day.


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