South Africa Series: No. 1

Although my dissertation research is about the Arctic Blue Economy, I have kicked off Summer 2019 immersed in the London School of Economics-University of Cape Town short course “Africa and Global Transformations: The rise of emerging powers and a new international order”. South Africa and the circumpolar Arctic may be around 11,000 kilometres apart in physical distance, but the ties that bind the two regions are profound; of particular note is the geopolitical demand for their respective resources.

The opportunity to study at University of Cape Town through LSE has been phenomenal thus far. I am grateful to be in the company of fellow students from around the world in one of the most incredible cities! Our coursework has kept us busy, but with rain on the weather forecast for this weekend, we opted to take an evening off in favour of hiking up Lion’s Head, a 669M mountain that promises panoramic views of the city of Cape Town, Camps Bay, and Table Mountain.

What began as a small group of keen hikers grew throughout the afternoon, and by the time we left the UCT campus, we had formed an Uber convoy of 19. The first half of the trail snaked slowly up and out of the forested area and wound its way around the mountain gradually. Naturally, we broke up into smaller groups according to skill level, and the conversations were animated and dynamic as we hiked.

The second half of the hike proved to be a bit more testing. Ladders, ropes and toe-holds assisted us in climbing the chiseled rock face of the mountain. The energy exerted was rewarded at the top, with 360-degree views illuminated by the setting sun. Everyone was in great spirits as we soaked up the remaining daylight, and we stood in awe watching the final moments of sunset before heading back down in the twilight glow.

I joined a small group of my classmates for dinner at the Victoria Wharf post-hike. We ended up staying long into the night, seated on the patio at the waterfront, enjoying incredible food, drinks, and each others’ company. On the drive home, we laughed about the close bond already formed after only three days. Finding likeminded friends is always a blessing.

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