(Editor's Note: Ashley Michelle Williams, a news associate at NBC, is penning a series of blog posts about a recent trip to South Africa. Previous posts: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)
One of the hardest sights for me to see is when people do not have the opportunity to have a good life, a life that makes them happy. I know these areas are within the United States and all over the world, but no matter where I go, I hate seeing them.
I think when one travels anywhere in the world, it's nice to see people happy and experiencing the joys that there country offers. Yet one of the most ironic things about visiting the townships of South Africa—which seem to me much worse than any depressed neighborhood in the U.S.—is that people there were enjoying their lives.
In South Africa, it seems that every city has a place outside of it known as the townships. According to authors of the topic "Townships" in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences:
"Possibly the most famous townships are in South Africa and were a creation of the apartheid system and its predecessor regimes of white rule. Apartheid was formally instituted as state policy in1948, but dating from the white settlers' permanent landing at what is now Cape Town in 1652, racial segregation was formal practice. The townships were racially discriminatory in that "black African, colored" (mixed-race) and "Indian" people were ordered by the Land Act of 1913 and the Group Areas Act of 1950 to live separately. Even within black townships, ethnic groups were often segregated into separate areas for Zulus, Xhosas, Sothos, and others. These laws existed until the early 1990s, and since then there has been only gradual desegregation of formerly white, colored, and Indian areas."Seeing the conditions of the townships outside the city of Grahamstown and outside the city of Cape Town really touched me. It was like looking racism straight in the face.