With great anticipation 52 students, accompanied by 4 teachers, headed off on the annual Academic Tour to Johannesburg and the Cradle of Humankind. Over the past few years this Tour has become a popular occasion for the students of WBHS as it offers such a wide variety of places to visit.
After a few hours on the bus, we finally arrived at our first port of call. This was the Ditsong Military Museum in Johannesburg. The boys were amazed by the weaponry on display, mostly from the two World Wars. These ranged from aircraft such as the first jet propelled aircraft (the Me 262), a Spitfire in pristine condition, a Sopwith Camel of the First World War, to the numerous artillery pieces, as well as a large number of tanks from the Second World War. This museum is world class and is well worth a visit.
The following morning we went on a guided tour of South Africa’s largest township, SOWETO. For many of the boys this would have been a once in a lifetime experience. The boys were able to walk the route of the 1976 Soweto Uprising as well as visit an informal settlement. The most priceless moment of the Tour was the look on the faces of the locals when blankets, warm clothes and sweets were distributed by the boys.
The Apartheid Museum is another world class facility which displays so much about the history of our country. Hopefully this stop provided the boys with a clearer understanding of our past and a sense of empathy for the issues with which our nation is currently grappling.
Our afternoon was supposed to have been spent at Gold Reef City. Unfortunately load shedding put a quick stop to that plan! And so we headed off to Maropeng in the Cradle of Humankind- our base for the next three nights.
Saturday morning and time for something different. The De Wildt Cheetah Sanctuary provided us with an opportunity to learn about this endangered species- as well as to see these beautiful animals up close. While we were there, we saw the cheetahs (as well as the wild dogs) being fed – a definite highlight.
Thereafter, we headed to the Hartebeespoort Cableway. Some of the boys went very quiet as we headed up the Cableway. The views from the top were certainly spectacular.
Our final visit for the day was Pretoria and specifically the Union Buildings. The Office of the President certainly has played its role in South Africa’s history- the 1956 Women’s March and the inauguration of Nelson Mandela – being two important occasions.
Sunday began with a visit to the interactive museum at the Maropeng Visitors’ Centre. Here the focus is on the birth of mankind and the problems that the world faces today. A tour through the Sterkfontein Caves provided interesting insight into how the fossils of these early humans (called Hominids) were preserved – as well as being a means to test our levels of claustrophobia and agility as we had to manoeuver through rather tight tunnels!
To make up for the disappointment of not visiting Gold Reef City a couple of days earlier, we then headed back to Johannesburg. The boys were able to enjoy – or so they said- the many rides!
And so, as Monday dawned, it was time to begin the long trek home – hopefully enriched by the numerous experiences of the past few days.
Mr A. Faure-Field: Tour Organiser
Comments from Staff and Boys on the Tour
These few days have been very interesting and informative for both the staff and students. Much was learnt and experienced, ranging from our earliest history to the fall of apartheid. Although most will claim that Gold Reef City was the most fun to be had, many a laugh was had around campfires and on the bus trips. Quite special to view a lunar eclipse from outside the built up areas too. So, although most are asleep on the trip back, many lasting memories have been made that will live with us for many years.
Yahshiv Moodley, Year 9ROR:
What an experience the past 5 days have been. New friendships have been made as us students and teachers have bonded outside of the classroom. My personal favorite out of the activities would definitely be visiting an informal settlement and getting to see how others live. We all came together to help those in need by donating blankets and warm clothing to help these people out during the extremely cold winter. I shall never forget how a child’s face lit up as I offered him a sweet and the smile that erupted over his face. I am truly grateful for being offered the opportunity to have come on this tour and experience the many diverse cultures of our country, it is an experience I shall never forget and I’d like to make a special thanks to all those who made the tour so enjoyable.
Samir Rughbeer, 9ROR:
This tour has been a really eye-opening and a once in a lifetime experience for me. Not only did I get to see parts of our history and culture that I’ve never seen before, but I got to see it through the perspective of the people who made it. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to have fun with my peers and learn about our diverse backgrounds and the lives of different people from various places and also time periods. This tour has been entertaining and enjoyable for everyone who came along and it’s not until you see it for yourself that you get to understand how rewarding our time has been. I’d like to thank everyone who made this possible.