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As a theme, Branches of Power explores local and global power dynamics in light of four topics. 

Branches of Power: South Africa

SchoolSchool | Global Themes South Africa

Program Overview

As a theme, Branches of Power explores local and global power dynamics in light of four topics.

Branch One: Participants will explore the significance of the power dynamics between South African ethnic groups. They will learn about the fierce warrior King Shaka Zulu of KwaZulu-Natal and his immense success on the battlefield in the early 1800s. Participants will also learn about the history of European colonization and the Apartheid era.

Branch Two: This will hone in on the power of nature by exploring the power of animals in the African wilderness. By engaging with nature, participants will learn to respect its power and the absolute necessity to conserve our natural resources and endangered wildlife species.

Branch Three: Participants will discover ways in which South Africans are tackling the power crisis and rolling blackouts in the country. Participants will engage with professionals at the forefront of sustainable energy solutions and consider energy solutions found abroad and how these might be beneficial to South Africa. They will take a guided visit through a nuclear power plant and a hydroelectric power plant, as well as the renowned Darling Wind Farm near Cape Town.

Branch Four: The power of art in its various forms will be explored through the eyes of South African artists, dramatists, and musicians. Participants can expect to engage with sensational rhythm, rhyme, song, dance, and their powerful effects on the human spirit. 

Culturally and Historically Significant Sites:

  • Soweto Township 
  • Nelson Mandela Heritage Site
  • Lesedi Cultural Village
  • Timbavati Game Reserve
  • Koeberg Power Plant

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this program, students should be able to:

  1. Explore cultural identity and cultural self-awareness
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of global and local power imbalances
  3. Develop empathy and consideration for others
  4. Understand the characteristics of good leadership (leading by example, active listening, confidence, courage, respectfulness, responsibility, effective communication,  perseverance, and being honorable)
  5. Demonstrate a commitment to ongoing sustainable inquiry, improvement, and innovation
  6. Work together within a team to achieve a common goal

Program Contributors

Eco Children

Eco Children is a non-profit organization initiated by the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve to conserve our natural heritage and empower the youth of today by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to become well-rounded, educated young adults. They operate in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in northeast South Africa. The organization offers various service-learning opportunities for students. Some of their projects focus on eco-education, infrastructure, literacy, and teacher training.

Lionel Davis, Former Freedom Fighter & Political Prisoner on Robben Island

Growing up as a person of color during South Africa’s Apartheid era, it was not long before Lionel developed an antagonism towards the oppression of authority and got involved in the anti-Apartheid struggle. In 1964, he was arrested and sentenced to seven years on Robben Island for conspiring to commit acts of sabotage. After his release, he was placed under house arrest until 1976. He suffered a mental breakdown from his trauma under house arrest and found solace and healing through art. This led him to complete a degree in Fine Arts in 1994. For many years, Lionel lived on Robben Island, working as an Educational Officer at the Robben Island Museum. Today he continues his art, writes his memoirs, and participates in community projects.

University of Cape Town - Centre for Theater, Dance & Performance Studies

The Centre for Theater, Dance & Performance Studies (CTDPS) focuses on teaching dance and theater performance as forms of critical inquiry, creative expression, pedagogy, and public engagement. They view performance as a public platform for contemporary ideas, allowing for examination and the questioning of the fundamental concerns of our times in a space that is at once critical, emotional, and collaborative. With diversity and inclusion at the heart of their teaching, performance-making and public programming, CTDPS aims to build reciprocity and respect between all living beings as these qualities inform the essence of what happens in theater, dance, and performance.

Sustainable Development Goals

This program engages students with the principles of the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These are linked to the planned curricular activities.

Good Health and Well-being

Related Planned Curricular Activities: Soweto Township, Sustainability Institute, Discussion with Lionel Davis

Affordable and Clean Energy

Related Planned Curricular Activities: Eskom Koeberg Power Station, Darling Wind Farm, Palmiet Power Station

Life on Land

Related Planned Curricular Activities: Timbavati Game Reserve, Eco Children, Sustainability Institute


Featured Experiences

Dinner and Djembe Drumming

Gold Restaurant is an experience of the opulent heartbeat of African cuisine and culture. Tailoring its menu to the diversity found across the African continent, Gold Restaurant offers a gourmet selection seasonally adapted from Northern, Sub-Saharan, and Southern Africa. Guests will have the opportunity to join in a djembe drumming session. Feel the pulse of Africa as you drum and dine.

Cape Point

As the most southwestern outcrop of the African continent, Cape Point rises above the cobalt and turquoise-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. With the sound of the sea rushing below you, climb up to the lighthouse for a view of misty mountains in the distance at one of Cape Town’s most scenic and significant vantage points.

Cape Malay Cooking Class

Jasmina’s house is part of the colorful and immensely cultural tapestry that is found in the Bo Kaap district of Cape Town. The Malayan cuisine that she imparts is also a part of the rich heritage of the area, seasoned with distinct spices, and created from recipes that have been handed down many generations. You can learn how to make a mouth-watering Malayan meal in the warmth of her kitchen, from traditional samosa starters to rich chicken curry. Afterward, you can enjoy the living dish of history you helped to spice.

Robben Island Overnight

Step into the shoes of Nelson Mandela for a night by staying in prison accommodation, along with a private tour of the prison and island. Get a feel of the isolation and challenges that the prisoners faced for decades in one of the world's most famous prisons on Robben Island. This is a unique experience that will bring you closer to understanding the challenges that Mandela and many other historical figures faced in their fight for freedom and equality.

Monks Cowl Drakensberg Hike

Located in the Kwazulu Natal province of South Africa, the trails of Monks Cowl showcase the incredible scenery of Drakensberg in the midst of mountains and valleys. Experience the beauty of South Africa as you explore these picturesque landscapes.

Chokka Trail

Hiking the Chokka trail is a 14-kilometer adventure, taking you through the Coastal Cradle of Humankind. During the hike, you will have an opportunity to see the second-largest blowhole in Southern Africa and the remains of the Osprey and Cape Recife. After the hike, there is an included tour of the SANCCOB Penguin Rehabilitation Center. Continuing via Shark Point, there is calamari tasting at Port St. Francis, then a canal cruise in the late afternoon. The day ends with dinner at Joe Fish Restaurant or a local boma for braai.

Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum, the first of its kind, illustrates the rise and fall of Apartheid. The museum is a superb example of design, space, and landscape. It offers the international community a unique South African experience. A series of 22 individual exhibition areas takes the visitor through a dramatic emotional journey that tells the story of a state-sanctioned system based on racial discrimination and the struggle of the majority to overthrow this tyranny. The exhibits include provocative film footage, photographs, text panels, and artifacts illustrating the events and human stories that contribute to the saga of Apartheid.

Pilanesberg Safari

Pilanesberg National Park is set within the crater of an ancient volcano, formed 1.2 billion years ago by overflowing magma. It exists in a transition zone between the dryness of the Kalahari and the wet vegetation of the Lowveld region. This rich transitional zone attracts an incredible variety of game animals, flora, and fauna that are not often found living side by side. Virtually all of the animal species native to southern Africa can be found here, including the “big five", wild dog, roan, tsessebe, sable antelope, and more than 360 bird species.

AWOL Bicycle Tour

This international, award-winning, socially responsible bicycle tour in Masiphumelele, Kommetjie is a new take on township tours, providing guests the opportunity to meet and interact with the local community from a bicycle seat. A qualified local guide will escort guests around the township, visiting interesting places and explaining Xhosa customs. The tour includes lunch at a local township restaurant that serves delicious authentic African food.

Boulders Beach

Step through the entryway to this beach and find yourself face to face with one of Africa’s quirkier inhabitants - penguins. A colony of African penguins resides on Boulders Beach - a stretch of sand dominated by giant seaside rocks and penguin nests.

Bo-Kaap Walking Tour

This tour winds its way through jewel-toned houses and mosques, providing commentary on the history and tradition behind the iconic architecture of the Bo-Kaap district. As you follow your guide through this segment of Cape Town, we invite you to explore a side of South African history defined by cultural fusion and crossover. Watch tradition unfold into a modern landscape of vibrancy as East meets West at the southern point of Africa.

Soweto Tour

The Soweto Day Tour takes in the highlights of this iconic township including Nelson Mandela’s former home and the Hector Pieterson Museum. You will get close to Soweto Culture, meet the people, try local foods, and maybe even some Omqombothi (traditional beer) at a shebeen. This tour is one of a kind. It takes you through the smell of pavement-cooked meals and the buzz of people going about their daily chores in the streets. Come and experience the humanity, hospitality, and warmth of township life - the "ubuntu" of South Africa.

Abseiling Table Mountain

Abseiling is one of the best ways to explore the rocky crags of Table Mountain. This thrilling activity includes a relatively technical hike, so a moderate fitness level is required to experience this adventure!

Table Mountain

Find out why Table Mountain is one of the seven natural wonders of the world as you climb to the top. The mountain stretches gloriously on the Cape Town horizon, rising effortlessly from the lights and bustle of the city. As you ascend, the rugged terrain becomes a world in and of itself, with age-old rocks, grasses, and shrubs covering the mountainside. The top of Table Mountain provides astounding views of the city on one side and the sea on the other, with rolling clouds over rocky peaks. A cable car provides a scenic descent, suspended gracefully over jagged rock and the famous flora of the mountain.

Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center

This center provides a sanctuary for many wild animals such as leopards, cheetahs, rhinos, and vultures that are the victims of habitat loss. While Moholoholo is directly involved in research, breeding programs, and rehabilitation, it also helps tribal communities and farms by adopting and relocating 'problem animals’ that would otherwise be poisoned or injured if left at the mercy of people. The aim of this rehabilitation facility is to promote awareness about environmental upheaval and to support endangered wildlife.

Class in the Clouds

Did you know that Table Mountain is believed to have more plant diversity than the British Isles put together? Class in the Clouds gives learners the chance to learn all about the amazing fauna and flora found in the Cape Floral Kingdom while enjoying the view from the top of Table Mountain.

Induna Adventures

Induna offers a wide variety of adrenaline-racing activities such as white water rafting, ziplining, and quad biking. Only twenty minutes away from Kruger National Park, Induna’s pristine location provides an unforgettable setting for adventure sports and outdoor team activities.


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