A week in Durban


The Durban waterfront

I have just returned home to Mama’s house after a week at the World Leisure Congress in Durban. Yes I study leisure. No it is not an oxymoron. My dad would prefer I tell people that I’m in the School of Applied Health Sciences rather than the faculty of Recreation and Leisure Studies, but here we are.

Anyhoo, the big bi-annual conference was last week and for the first time it was being hosted by an African city! My advisor strongly suggested that I attend, despite knowing that I have no social skills and would rather sit under a table than chat with the strangers sitting around it. That being said, I put on my big girl pants and made lots of really incredible and inspirational new friends.

I also had an opportunity to present on what I’ve learned in my work so far. Considering the fact that I’m still conducting interviews (I have two more tomorrow. I fly home the day after. I’m organized.), I really only had very preliminary ideas to discuss, but I did share the audio of the interview that I spoke about in an earlier posting. I think my presentation went well and there was lots of good discussion at the end. Two young South Africans asked about the age of the interviewee and when I told them that he was around 40, they assured me – quite strongly – that I needed to balance that with some young people’s perspectives. Of course I do. Why on earth did I not think to contextualize people’s perspectives based on their lived experiences? To be fair, I have done virtually zero analysis thus far, but I am so grateful to those young people for putting me in my place. The ‘born-free’ generation, those born around or after 1994 have their own perspectives based on their very different experiences of growing up in South Africa. White people were not the “bosses” in the South Africa they grew up in. Not legally anyhow. Now I just have to make sure that that comes across in my findings.

Although another conference attendee thought that might end up being a ‘for future study’ addendum to my dissertation. Another cited my new favourite saying: “The best dissertation is a done dissertation.” 😀

At any rate, the conference was wonderful and I was able to attend a number of really thought-provoking presentations. It wasn’t all work though! I played hooky one morning and joined a new friend in a visit to an “authentic” Zulu village and reptile park, I strolled the beach a few times, I toured the oldest botanical garden in Africa, and I glommed on to a group of really eminent scholars in the field for their walk to the Moses Mabhida stadium. I mean eminent. One of the men wrote the textbook for the first leisure studies class I ever took. Durban is beautiful and warm and exciting, but I’m happy to be back to my cold and familiar Western Cape, at least for a few more days.

Tourists meeting Zulu performers, South Africa

Tourists and Zulu dancers in their natural environment

A Zulu woman demonstrating in recreated cooking hut, South Africa

A Zulu woman demonstrating in recreated cooking hut

The jinglers that dancers wear on their ankles are made from old soda can lids, South Africa

The jinglers that dancers wear on their ankles are made from old soda can lids

Leisure researchers at the beach, Durban, South Africa

A hard day’s work for leisure scholars

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa

Walking towards the Moses Mabhida stadium, built for the 2010 World Cup.

The Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa

The Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa

Botanical garden, Durban, South Africa

Cat dumping continues to be a real problem for the Botanical garden

The sunken garden, Botanical Gardens, Durban, South Africa

The sunken garden, Botanical Gardens, Durban, South Africa

7 thoughts on “A week in Durban

  1. I like your attitude about having your work challenged. Most people – including yours truly – would likely become defensive of the work they’ve done. You, on the other hand, are grateful for the insight. I’m impressed 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks :), but I think everyone’s first instinct is to feel defensive when their work is challenged. It is perhaps easier to accept when you do work cross-culturally – you just get used to not really understanding, even when you think you do. My Dutch friend had a great analogy: I go through life wearing blue tinted glasses, but you go through life wearing yellow tinted glasses. I can never see the world as yellow, the best I can hope for is green. When you don’t know anything about how it is to see yellow it makes it easier to be receptive 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photos Meg!

    Nice to see those soda can jinglers again!

    Looking forward to seeing you at home soon.

    It is very hot and dry here, but summer is all good!



    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, Durban Botanical Garden – my daughter lived in a flat opposite the garden so I visited it every day of my stay there (many moons ago…). Are you back home for good now? Or do you go back to SA? As someone who lived in SA during the Apartheid years, and have children who lived there post the ‘revolution’ I find it very interesting to read your posts. I have recently heard that the universities are now discriminating against white students. Is that the case? If so it is going to make the country a very hard place for white people to live in. Or maybe that is the point…


    • Hi Jude, the gardens are fabulous – i’m so envious that you got to live so close by! And yes I am home for good now, just trying to wrap my head around that turn of events! I haven’t heard about universities discriminating against white students, but my home base was Stellenbosch, so probably quite a different campus culture than in many other places. I think that it will be very interesting to see what happens following next month’s federal election. People, especially young people, are really ready for some real change, and I think that you’re, that things may get rough for white South Africans. I have pretty mixed, complex feelings about that. Nothing about South Africa ever seems simple or clear cut!

      Liked by 1 person

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