Mandela was sick and the country was worried. His face covered those 2011 newspapers and every TV screen. We stopped in Soweto for the day to learn about the uprising there, the one in which children died while fighting to receive their education in their native language.
Months later I overheard my instructor telling a bus driver about Soweto the day that we were there. “It was like a ghost town,” he said. “Deserted.” When I thought back, I remembered the empty streets, the people huddled around radios. What I had ignorantly taken for normal Soweto life was a country waiting on tenterhooks to hear the fate of the binding thread of their nation.