South Africa International Tour 2008
The Purdue Varsity Glee Club had an unprecedented season in 2007-2008 singing the national anthem at an Indianapolis Colts game, entertaining at the World Food Prize Ceremony, performing at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City and touring south Florida during spring break. However, the most incredible opportunity of the year came in May when the Glee Club served as goodwill ambassadors for Purdue University, the state of Indiana and the United States of America during a two-week performance tour of SOUTH AFRICA!
Our 34-hour journey began at 4:30 A.M. in West Lafayette, where we bused to Chicago, flew to Washington, D.C. and departed on a 15-hour flight to Johannesburg. Our travels did not end there as we boarded a short flight to Cape Town and bused to our luxurious hotel.
Our first excursion brought us to Robben Island, a prison island the government banished citizens to, which became a place of exile and isolation. Influential government officials including Nelson Mandela were held captive there. Located five miles off the coast, Robben Island created a beautiful platform for scenic shots of Cape Town and the coast of South Africa. After returning to the mainland, we took a bus tour of downtown Cape Town where we visited one of the city's oldest cathedrals. The day concluded with pictures atop Signal Hill where we were able to look down upon the city.
Touring is nice, but we were here to perform and spread the good word about Purdue and the Glee Club, so that evening, we did just that at the Cape Town City Hall. We were accompanied by a South African group called the Red Dazzlers and they were amazing! The show ended with rousing renditions of Shosholoza and the South African national anthem, God Bless Africa.
We spent the entire next day taking a bus tour of the Coast Line. Despite some rain, the countryside was so beautiful. We stopped at places such as Maiden's Cove, Hout Bay, Boulders Beach to visit the South African Penguins, Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.
We then flew back to Johannesburg and took a 5-hour bus ride to Kruger National Park, our home for the next four days. We stayed at Skukuza, our rest camp within the national park. We lived in bungalow huts which were fully furnished with air conditioning and plumbing. Our stay at Kruger National Park included numerous game drives where we saw the Big 5, named for being the toughest animals to hunt on foot, which includes the lion, the African elephant, the African buffalo, the black rhinoceros and the leopard. We also saw many other animals including zebras, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles, baboons, springbok, hyenas and many, MANY more. Spotting wildlife was not the only highlight at Skukuza. Many of the guys as well as some of our PMO Club members, families and fans participated in the very first Skukuza-Boilermaker Open golf tournament. We ended our stay at Kruger National Park with an evening show with the Kruger National Park Choir, performing at an outdoor amphitheater under the lights of the safari vehicles, our mini-flashlights and the dazzling stars which filled the night sky.
The next day, we bused back to Johannesburg for a historical tour of Pretoria City, one of South Africa's three capitals, where we visited the house of former president Paul Kruger, the Voortrekker Monument that honored the pioneers of the Great Trek and the South African Government buildings. We had our final performance of the season at the Linder Auditorium where we performed with three South African male choruses.
Our final day in South Africa included a tour of Soweto, a suburb of Pretoria. We visited the Apartheid Museum, which chronicled the hardships of the Apartheid era. The day also included a stop at one of the largest hospitals in the southern hemisphere where we visited with a small group of children, performing a few songs and passing out goodies. We agreed this was one of the most moving experiences of our lives. The night ended with a farewell dinner that consisted of native food, authentic tribal paint and, of course, excellent music.
Our South African international adventure was coming to an end as we prepared for the 30-hour journey back to Purdue. Once we touched down on American soil, we sang the national anthem on the airplane. Some of our guests left us in D.C. while the rest of our guests headed back to Chicago with us and continued on to campus. Our tour of South Africa was like nothing any of us have ever experienced. As excited as we were to return to our everyday lives back in the states, our tour was truly the experience of a lifetime and we're very fortunate to have had the opportunity and spread the word about Purdue to a beautiful land where we've never been before.