South Africa: Constitutional Court Visit

We have officially reached the end of the seminar portion of our trip, and now it’s time to sit back and relax! We have learned so much in the last four days, and have been fortunate enough to experience first hand the inner workings of the South African court system and surrounding organizations. The government agencies, NGOs, and other systems we have encountered are feverishly dedicated to improving the lives, culture, concerns, struggles, deficiencies, and triumph of the South African people, achieving their purposes through the incredible and unique Constitution of South Africa. Today we had the amazing privilege of visiting the South African Constitutional Court. For those of you who do not know, this is the equivalent of visiting the United States Supreme Court, and speaking with one of the Justices. The building itself is absolutely remarkable. Every square foot of the interior and exterior of the courthouse was intricately planned and executed. It is located on the land where an old prison once stood, that housed not only Nelson Mandela, but also M.K. Gandhi and other political prisoners since the early 1900s. The colorful courthouse, filled with art and meaningful quotations all over the building, was nothing like we have ever seen in the traditional courthouses in the United States. The exterior doors are carved with each of the Bill of Rights, depicted in every native South African language, and ASL sign language as well. The architects also preserved four of the staircases that lead to holding cells, in order to symbolize a new direction from the horrible past. Along the same lines, they kept the bricks from the old prison and restructured them to construct one of the primary walls of the actual constitutional courtroom. The structure as a whole stands as a beacon of light in the center of a devastated, yet hopeful, city.  After a very inspirational day it is time to jump in the hotel pool and relax, and look forward to our amazing safari adventure!

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