Misconceptions About South Africa(ns)

Being a World Cup host, I see a lot more foreigners than I usually do... all seem to be asking me the same horrible questions. Based on some of the questions I've been asked...

Good idea: not listening to what Julius Malema has to say.

Just The Facts

  1. Julius Malema is not our national spokesperson or emperor and doesn't represent the views of anybody but himself and maybe the overage "Youth League".
  2. We don't all listen to monotonous taxi-music.
  3. For the LAST time, nobody rides elephants, giraffes, mudkips or any other wild animal, fictitious or otherwise.

The Two Repeat Offenders

One gets particularly upset when the twins rear their ugly heads in tandem... Ignorance and Apathy. I've underlined the latter to emphasize mildly the amount it annoys me. When someone comes up to you, asks you an innocuous enough stupid question, it's forgivable.

I don't mind so much that someone actually came up to me and asked me how to say "I love you" in Zulu. I jokingly replied "ich liebe dich"... and the lady actually got angry with me. When I explained to her that I couldn't speak Zulu to save my life, she asked me what kind of immigrant am I that I can't speak one of my official languages, I asked her if she knew there were ELEVEN of the damned things out there. They're all fairly different too, it was never going to happen.

NOBODY talks like this here

Each area had a different tribe associated with it, all with a different language just about. Most South Africans speak two languages; it's usually English and a native tribal language or Afrikaans, I personally have no native indigenous SA heritage, so like most Indian South Africans, my two are English and Afrikaans. Understand that for us please? Learning one native language is tough enough. Again, nobody speaks like that image above around here.

The Original Boogeyman...'s Estranged Henchman

Right at the top of this article, I posted a picture of our "village idiot" so to speak. Mr. Julius Malema, voice of the ANC Youth League and general loudmouth. This is a typical example of "think before you speak and make us look bad", he's just about dragged our perceived intelligence through the mud and made our name gat*.

People actually take it that he's like our emperor. It's a couple umpteen times I've had to tell people that I have no idea what this guy means when he says "They are racist! They are racist! It's obvious, he (Caster Semenya) is a woman".

He is obviously a woman.

"So... would you marry her?"

"No, he is not that type of woman"... Who's the "racist" now? Haha. Classic.

Sunny skies, Braaivleis* and Chevrolet

Okay, not so much the last one, but generally, that describes SA. Sunny skies (usually) and braai* atmosphere. Welcoming people, good food, great things to see, better things to do, it's a lovely place. It isn't all the crime and murder that most locals point it out to be. Every city has its rough areas, it shouldn't be surprising we're just like everyone else in that regard, but still. We aren't all out to rob you at Okapi*-point and rape people... Jeez.

Asking someone foreign the time and watching them eye you nervously, back away five paces and half-shout the chronological disposition of the current day at you is mildly embarrassing and offending. We've had cars for more than half a century, I've never had to fight Mad Max or anyone else over petrol, oil or electricity and yes, some of our hair grows longer, not taller. That one bites me.

"How come your hair isn't like theirs?"

Screw off.

The Vocabulary List

Gat : (ch as in Achmat -ah-t, rhymes with nut and rut, as well as, but not pronounced gut). Ass or horrible.

Braai : (br - eye) barbeque. Great South African tradition.

Braaivleis : (br - eye - flays) barbeque meat. Almost as good as sacred around here. Watch out.

Okapi : pocket knife.