I cannot count the number of times I have heard South Africans tell me that they’re going to ‘Africa’ or the continent for a week. Yes, I kid you not, we are a special breed. We have Africa in our name and there are still people who think they are going to a different continent when they board a plane at OR Tambo or Cape Town International or King Shaka. And yes, all 54 of our glorious countries are extremely different, but they are still on the same continent.
1.Are you Zulu? Sawubona!
Yes, I happen to be Zulu but this happens to most South Africans when they visit the rest of Africa. So many people know about our history, culture and some languages and appreciate how far we’ve come as a nation despite us not appreciating it. Yes, this is me also feeling terrible that I learnt nothing about African history in primary or secondary school and had to wait until I took a minor in African studies to have a better appreciation for our similarities, struggles and so many of our cultural commonalities!!!
2. Yes there are brown / black people in South Africa
This is more for the melanated South Africans reading (Yes, I just made up that word). Due to apartheid and socioeconomic reasons most South African people of colour have not traveled the breadth of our beautiful continent. Due to this, it should come as no surprise that a lot of Africans outside of the major hubs are genuinely surprised when they meet a black South African. For some reason a lot of places off the beaten track seem to think South Africans are mainly white….No, I’m not joking….I was in Tunisia and someone looked at me strangely when I said I was South African… apparently I was the first black South African they had ever met. So do all of us a public service and go show some of our culture and fake those clicks even if you aren’t Xhosa or Zulu. You’re doing your country a service!!!!
3. This is more for the greater world then the continent, but you will have utterly amusing stories to tell your grandkids that you could never make up.
I lived in China for a period of around 2.5 years in and out, first as a student and then as an adult. It was not the easiest because of the stark differences in culture but being fluent in mandarin did help. Questions I was asked in that period:
- Are you related to Obama?
- Is Kobe your big brother?
- Why are you at the zoo, don’t you have animals everywhere in Africa? (And still…no we only have animals in the zoo)
- You must be grateful to Obama for ending slavery…deadass. I tell no lies…
- How come your Chinese is so good? (I lying to get an extra shot..my dad is Chinese and my mum is South African…)…mmm I guess that makes sense… *sips on her 4th free shooter because she’s half Chinese*
- Why are you so dark…do your people not wash as much?
- Some offensive, some hilarious…all requiring a level of patience that my mother would be proud I now possess (apparently I used to have the temper of a thousand Xhosa / Zulu woman)
4. You will genuinely be humbled by how beautiful the continent is and how so many places are not publicized. Yes,people have been hiding destinations from you.
I don’t even know where to start …The Danakil depression (lookout for my next post)… Labadi Beach in Accra..The skeleton Coast that’s on my bucket list… or the clear ocean in Zanzibar or the Seychelles…I don’t remember ever being taught about this Africa. I have been entirely humbled by how much I didn’t know before embarking on my journeys. When kids were going off about some of their European holidays as a kid and we could only afford to go down the coast till now when I’m older and I can afford to explore more I have not come across anything as beautiful as our continent. I am entirely filled with euphoria every single time I land on a different island or city even when I’m overwhelmed and I need to go find a normal cab (Yes, there are places where there is still no uber or taxify or littlecabs – please go find a normal cab; its 2019 and its still in fashion to speak to people and bargain for your fare).
I wont lie, I love South Africa. I don’t think I could have been luckier in hitting the birth lottery when it comes to weather, lack of natural disasters, amazing food, friendliest of people and a more resilient nation but like I said above I am giddy with excitement every single time I know I am putting another African stamp on the green Mamba! Yes, I am that south African who listens to the expat south Africans and calls her passport the green mamba! Firstly, start budgeting…there’s so much to see and so little time…join the struggle bus and go to home affairs, if you get there extremely early you’re out within an hours and are assured a new passport within a week! And yes, we are thankful that the two most efficient ministries in our country is the one that taxes you (hey SARS, I feel like I’m owed a tax rebate ) and the one that actually allows you to run away from Eskom’s load shedding once in a while!!!!