Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :-

South Africa in a nutshell (chocolate bar)

South Africa in a nutshell (chocolate bar)

 

2007-08-16

As my friend Henru had put it, “in South Africa we have time, everywhere else they have watches” and it was with this in mind that I couldn`t believe my time here had come to an end. It really is one of those must see places, so incredibly complicated and complex politically, with the sores from the Apartheid Regime still visible and healing slowly, but on the other hand it has staved off the temptation to cast away it`s ancient history and bound into the modern age.

There is something really amazing about the way that the people of South Africa laugh! It`s infectious, like they have discovered the secret of happiness but they want to share it if you just ask. They are so musical, with the very landscape of places like the Eastern Cape, the Transkaai and the Drakensburgs adding to the symphony. The food is really basic but that means that they have had plenty of time to get it right; the samp, the pap and above all the mealie bread that you got in the Kraal`s was sumptuous.

It is one of the richest countries in the world with their gold reserves but there is a huge disparity in the distribution of riches. Unemployment is over 25% and as a result of this, there is a prevalent lingering awareness of crime. The newspapers are full of crime with a sports section at the back. You are not advised to walk the streets at night and even sometimes during the day. It therefore can have a claustrophobic affect as you are constrained to your hostel in the evenings.

The guard dogs in the houses during the day, the electric fences (oh I really remember them!), the high walls, the permission to break red lights if you feel you are in danger are all somehow more evident here. It`s not exclusive to South Africa in any way but here you understand more their importance.

But I have been assured that when you accept these realities, you get used to it. There are some disgruntled people who say that the `reconciliation` of Mandela`s vision has not really been realised, white South Africans are leaving in droves because they can`t get jobs now despite their education because there has to be proportional representation in the workplace.

There is a perception amongst some that the new goverment is not for `all the people`. It was suggested by one friend of mine that `we left Mandela out 15 years too late.` I suggested that he shouldn`t have been in in the first place but with his struggle came the improvements in society. But there was definitely a sense that all South African`s would have been better off had he been a younger man leading his country with his vision and selflessness.

They grow big men here and beautiful women! The 11 different official languages are amazingly diverse with the clicking of your tongue in several ways being the difference in making sense or making an enemy. Everyone talks of 2010 (the next World Cup) and how they hope that it will be handled well and promote South Africa in a good light. I really hope they get it right for all their sakes.

So it was with some degree of sadness that I walked to board my plane in Johannesburg. I had some rand coins left over and I bought myself a large nutty chocolate bar and had eaten about two squares by the time I got to my gate. The beautiful black African girl that was checking our tickets asked to see mine, and I handed it over in the same hand with the chocolate bar.

She laughed and said, `Oh I thought you were going to give me the bar!`, I asked her if she would like it and her eyes lit up and she said `Yes!`

I gave it over and I looked back as I turned the corner into the corridor and she was looking back at me with a smile so African in nature that you need to see it to understand. The smile transferred on to my face as I walked away, happy and safe in the knowledge that I was definitely coming back here and that I was taking a little bit of South Africa with me…

Next:-

The Law has finally caught up with me!

South Africa

Westin Gourmet

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