Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cape of Hope and Storms

Well after spending just five days in Cape Town I can now understand what all of the hype is all about. It is an absolutely beautiful city with pretty much everything you can possibly want literally right there at your doorstep. Cape Town is sort of the cultural magnet of Southern Africa, attracting artists, musicians and students of all walks of life into its arms. The creative energy and the cultural mix of the city puts Cape Town in a league of its own. Beauty, art, history and jazz are all blended in with the contemporary political and social dynamics of post-Apartheid South Africa. Here is where Europe meets the "Dark Continent" and where the First World crashes headfirst into the Third.

I had been looking forward to two days of touring the Cape Region but the weather was absolutely terrible for the weekend and did not really clear up until the day Cremildo and I got on a plane back to Maputo. Table Mountain, Cape Town’s famous landmark and destination for traveling pilgrims like myself, was completely blanketed by think rain clouds making any attempt at an ascent next to impossible. As a result, I had to concentrate on the intriguing side of Cape Town to be found indoors. I went out to Robben Island, the South African Museum, The Cape Town gallery (which had a fascinating display on Picasso and Africa…highly recommended!!), the Aquarium and the colourful Bo-Kaap neighbourhood. I also had a fantastic time taking in the Long Street night life, hopping in and out of pubs, clubs and cafes with seasoned travelers until the sun began to peek over the horizon. Favourite spots included: Jo’burg, Marvels, Cool Runnings, Mama Africa, Mr. Pickwick’s and the Long Street Café. Ja, such good times!

Then Sunday and Monday we had our conference amidst the luxurious confines of the Hotel Commodore and the BMW conference center. The event was extremely well organized and brought together leading microfinance consultants, practitioners and partners from all over the continent to talk about strategies for mitigating the impacts of HIV/AIDS. Glancing over the participant list, I could see that there were 30 different African countries represented at the conference, each bringing their own experience and cultural insights to the table. Cremildo and I felt quite honoured to be a part of the event and we met many fascinating people. Our presentation went very well and we were even able to give Paulo Cuvilla from Male Yeru a chance to highlight the work of his institution. If the purpose of these events is to gain knowledge and build networks between people then I can say that we were quite successful. The learning tools we acquired this past weekend will help us tremendously over the coming months.

Thank you Africap for putting on such a quality event and thank you Cape Town for giving me a taste of Africa’s Mother City. I will carry a piece of you with me until we meet again.


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