London, United Kingdom

My experience in London: I’m guilty of loving London. Honestly, London for me was love at first sight. Even before I had been there. My first sight of London surely was on television. It must have been a random reality show of some sort, I cannot recall. But see, here is the thing,  as we all know about the dominance of the British Empire in terms of the South African Act of 1909, which segregated South Africa into four British Colonies; the Cape Colony, Natal Colony, Transvaal Colony, and Orange Colony. South Africa became a self-governing nation-state with the British Empire. So let me explain.

The minute I set foot in London it felt like home. I have traveled to Europe for a while now and it is not in every foreign country that I have felt such internal welcoming warmth. On my arrival, the weather was a typical London weather wet and cold. Obviously, all this I know from tv and heard about for years. I just wasn’t aware that even on ‘sunny days’ it would still be freezing and I would still need to wear a light jersey or scarf. No offense but that London sun was practically useless. The first thing on my mind on arrival was a good meal. Something meaty, preferably meat that I am familiar with. So, I set out on foot for a nearby restaurant or café where I could sit down in solitude. London was everything I have ever imagined and this seemed to give me the comfort most destinations hadn’t given me, it felt so familiar to me that setting out on the streets did not bring me to a mental debate because being out on the street exuded a sense of belonging. One of the biggest joys was discovering that London has food outlets like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Nando’s. These two franchises are the most popular outlets in South Africa. I was starving and coming across them, I instantly knew that I could live there forever. The city gave me déjà vu, because of the harmonious racial integration that existed. Every second person you see is non-English. A Japanese person, an African person, an Italian person, a Canadian person, a Muslim person… every race you could think of calls London home. Just like in South Africa, it has become home to the world. See, London is simply a better version of South Africa. Imagine a South Africa with better service delivery, an efficient public transport system, a resourceful and productive government and a rainbow nation that actually really exists in harmony. Yep, London!

: British Museum.

My next day’s itinerary was to visit the British Museum. As soon as I opened my eyes I checked the weather. Still cloudy and wet and much colder than the previous day. I was going to be in London for one whole week, and looking at the weather a part of me whispered… just lay here for the day. It’s too cold to be out there anyway, you’ve got a whole week to explore the country. Then the other part of me opposed. Questioning me, when will you ever have this experience again? what if you never return to London? Oh, hell no, I got up got dressed and headed to the British Museum which wasn’t far from my hotel, I was advised it would be a 20-minute walk and it really was. I passed by the London University on my way there. Entering the museum was free of charge, which was awesome. I have never seen such a big and detailed museum before in my life, this museum had every existing race and culture on display. From the native peoples of Northern America, Egyptians ancient history, Japanese, Africans, Chinese, Scottish, English, etc. You name it and it’s on display.

: The British Museum London Sainsbury African Collection Throne of weapons Made by Kester, Maputo

The beautiful artistic displays were in detail and it was enlightening to read and learn so much about so many different cultures. As an African, I made sure to visit The Sainsbury African Galleries, where displays of Africa date back to 1855 of The Crucifixion of Christ from Ethiopia. It depicts several different episodes of Christ’s crucifixion as if they were taking place at the same time. A heartfelt piece amongst many. To a recent Tree of Life display by four artists from Mozambique, the Tree of Life is a war memorial and it celebrates the courage of the people of Mozambique. While looking around I met many different people from all around the world, fascinated as I was over the beauty of African art. I came across an old woman and son. It seemed as though she was his grandmother because judging her appearance, she was too old to mother the young man who seemed to be around 8 years of age. It was an emotionally touching sight to see. The grandmother and son would stop in front of a displayed piece and she would carefully read the art description and then educates the young man about the pieces. She was patient and passionate about the artwork and her grandson. He would turn to her with questions concerning the piece and she would gracefully explain further. I loved the sight of it. My understanding towards them was that the old women were clearly an African descent that immigrated to London for one purpose or the other. Now she has a grandson born and bred in an English country and loving him so much she wants him to know and understand his roots. She takes it upon herself to take her grandson to Museums show him and teach him of his roots/ ancestry. It truly touched me. The vast collection of world art and artifacts kept me intrigued all day. I then proceeded to the museum’s great court restaurant that had a beautiful casual feel with an open kitchen showing a glimpse of the chefs at work. I enjoyed their variety of freshly baked cakes, muffins, sandwiches and not to mention their coffee. I found myself seated there over an hour with such satisfaction from it all, gazing at the distance and at the moment, happy that I chose to leave bed that morning.

: Tree of Life.

Written by: Phumie Sims
Instagram : Phumie_Sims