A Southafrican Pilgrimage
Why South Africa is THE country to immigrate into and why you shouldn’t leave when you live here – and why it’s worth visiting time and time again …
Like so many other nations on the globe, Southafrica has its issues. More so because there is not a concept of one leading culture, one concept of how things are done that everyone would agree on. Coming from a German background I valued the fact that anywhere in Germany, people would agree on the basic values in life. You wouldn’t need to explain why it’s not okay to beat your wife, child or dog, why showering after sex does not protect you from contracting AIDS, why no woman could possibly want to be wife number 6 (not subsequent but as part of a patriarchal clan), or simply why you think coke is not the best drink for a baby, and why piano lessons might be part of an educated upbringing etc. South Africa on the other hand is a multi-ethnic nation and has diverse cultures and languages. Eleven official languages are recognised in the constitution. Two of these languages are of European origin: English and Afrikaans, a language which originated mainly from Dutch that is spoken by the majority of white and Coloured South Africans. Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is only the fifth most-spoken home language. All ethnic and language groups have political representation in the country’s constitutional democracy. About 80% of the South African population is of black African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. South Africa also contains the largest communities of European, Asian, and racially mixed ancestry in Africa.
The way we speak influences the way we think and vise versa. 11 official languages makes for 11 different mindsets. Read up on the languages HERE.
South Africa’s Motto “Unity in Diversion” can be best interpreted as “we are trying to agree to disagree”.
When there is no common denominator, people often have to invent the wheel over and over again or flee into different kinds of extremism to give themselves some guidelines. The way South Africans see themselves and the rest of the world has been greatly influenced by the resulting insecurities.
As a foreigner living amongst them, I seem to see both the pitfalls and the potential of this nation with more clarity. The brain-drain of an educated part of the population hoping to find a better (safer) future for themselves and their offspring saddens me. Why be mediocre in Australia or bored to death in New Zealand when you can make a real difference in South Africa?
For a lot of South Africans, England seems like heaven. Having lived there for a while I can not understand that. The general life standard in the UK has been shocking to me, life in East Germany was better than what the general Brit experiences.
For a lot of South African ex-pats this is very true:
The proper means of increasing the love we bear our native country is to reside some time in a foreign one. ~William Shenstone
I hope a lot of people will indeed come back to South Africa and use the windows of opportunity existing only because of all the things South Africans complain about. If there is a need, there is a market, I would say.
I so hope and pray I can inspire at least a few South African pessimists to repent 🙂 and fall in love with this nation again. So what if we have a lot of extremists. There is the opportunity to be extremely free as well. So what if the government seems it couldn’t care less about improving education. It gives you the chance to care more.
So what if a lot of farms were closed due to mismanagement: Someone pick up his or her calling and please go and train the new farmers? We could produce food that ends world hunger. Anyone?
So what if there is no leading culture we all agree on – there is also a lot of space for new creativity in terms of movie making and the music industry. You can cause a new hype and trend in South Africa much easier than being an influencer in a culture with age-old convictions as Germany.
If you are so inclined, an NPO can make a real difference here in South Africa. A lot of people have no chance of ever bettering themselves because they literally don’t have access to real jobs or education. I am not pro feeding schemes, but that is where it starts – many children do not have any grown up looking after them and are depending on charities for a meal and clothing. South Africa is actually well-stocked with people wealthy enough to make a noticeable difference. Don’t be put off by their need to pose for a picture with some poor children – the children do not mind as long as they get real care. It is a win-win situation really, although I really struggle to take well-manicured ladies in pink sundresses and flamboyant hats to visit poor orphans. But if that’s what it takes … go find a millionaire and convince him that you can help him change the world.
Great facts about South Africa:
Gauteng is the province with the most advanced infrastructure in South Africa.
Coming into any city overseas I first scan the public transport system, learn the subway net, the busses and trams, its no big deal. I used to commute weekly with a train that goes at 300 km/h, and prefered trains to cars.
South Africa only recently started it’s Gautrain, connecting Johannesburg’s O R Tambo International Airport with Sandton CBD in just 12 minutes. It’s a big thing for people to ride the train, so that when I was on a training course in Joburg, (local for johannesburg)they even took our whole classroom full of life-experienced adults on a field trip to ride the train, how cute is that! You gotta love South Africa’s ability to be excited about things like that. Yeah we are taking the Gautrain. I even kept my ticket. Sending this picture to Germany, they all shrugged their shoulders and couldn’t understand the big deal. Half of the adults in the group almost wet their pants with excitement though.
20 % of the world’s gold is mined in South Africa. And while in Europe most natural resources have been mined out, there are so many treasures yet to be unearthed in South Africa. Amazing!
South Africa’s Rand was the second best-performing emergency market currency of the 26 monitored by Bloomberg in 2009. We recently changed the look of our Rand, with a picture of Nelson Mandela on the bank notes they were quickly dubbed “Randelas” and are looking like the cheap money of a poor African country with a dictator. Nevertheless, it’s cool money and I love spending it on cool made in South Africa stuff.
Table Mountain in Cape Town is one of the finalists in the “New 7 Wonders of Nature” competition.
Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent.
South Africa is home to 7 World Heritage Sites: The Cradle of Humankind, The Greater St. Lucia Wetland, Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Robben Island, Ukhalamba/Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe, Limpopo and the Cape Floral Kingdom.
South Africa was the first country in Africa to host the FIFA World Cup. Sadly enough, most white people here are more into Rugby than soccer or, as it is called here, football, which is probably due to the poor performance of the African teams. Nevertheless we had a lot of fun during the World Cup.
South Africa has the highest commercial bungi jump in the world at 216 m. For his birthday, my brother and his wife went on a Big Swing river gorge jump in Graskop, Mpumalanga. The wanted to do a tandem jump but then went for individual jumps and swings. Thank God – because the very next day a couple went to do a tandem on the same thing and it ended in tragedy. African Adventures – take caution though.
South Africa has the most luxurious train in the world, the Rovos Rail.
If you want a luxurious experience, South African hospitality in stunning surroundings wont disappoint. South African people are generally very creative and guest houses are tastefully decorated, breakfasts are scrumptious and conversations are cordial.
I hope this is enough to get you interested in visiting this country along with me.
In the following posts I want to share with you some awesome places I was lucky enough to visit. This post should be just an introduction to why I am still here and why I love this country so much. Words will never be enough so I include some photos I took. Please don’t take them without asking me first.
As always be patient, getting computer time is a luxury and I don’t know when I will get to do another post!
To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography. ~George Santayana