Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa, the media and that round leather thing

It has started. After all the time with tedious articles about delayed stadiums, unsafe townships and the usual stereotypes, the World Cup has finally begun. Even though I fear that the media have prepared the perfect ground for every purse robbery to be qualified as proof of how much safer it would have been in Europe, I hope and wish that it will be a great cup. And that bafana bafana makes it at least in the second round.

South Africa deserves it.

Photos South Africa – Finally

Just a few, more and some explaining comments next time, ok?

Yes, finally I am also a member of Flickr

Please put the opening window to maximum size and admire the nearly panoramo photos on the third of my three pages.

As soon as I have time and my laptop here in Brussels, I gonna also put some photos of Berlin, London and whatever you want to see. Ideas?

Basic skills

Some things are just so normal in life that you hardly think about them. For me, it was surprising to learn, that 9 out of 10 black South Africans cannot swim. They never had an opportunity to learn it because there are no or few public swimming pools and the sea is far away even for Cape Towniens. Living in township means that you do not go to the beach very often. You probably won’t ever have a bike, and making a driver’s licence is a huge financial challenge.

I knew how to swim by the age of six and I guess how to ride a bike, too. To make my driver’s licence was just the necessary thing to do, nearly everybody in high school was busy with in the last year. And I hardly ever thought about it…


this evening…

Yes, the day has come – I am going home. My visa is expiring today at midnight and since a lot of work and even more people are waiting for me to come home, I will leave South Africa at 8:50 pm. At least, if the plane is on time.

I have the very same feeling I got when I came to South Africa. I prepared everything, the luggage, the visa, accommodation and so on but I never had the feeling that I am actually going.

Today, my luggage is more or less ready but I cannot believe that I am leaving. Can you imagine while you walking in the sun (30°C) that not even 24 hours later you will have something like 4° and snow??? I mean, Friday, I was on the beach…

Ok, I should stop complaining because I cannot change it and also because I am happy to come home.

There is still a lot to say about South Africa and some posts to write. And if everything goes the way I want it, I will discover the strange and far kingdom of Belgium starting from the 1st of March… What adventures will I experience there?

View from Table Mountain

View over False Bay

Cable Car

South Africa – I will miss you!


I do not give any guarantee for the spelling but due to the huge demand (one email), I thought that it may interest you to know some of the very, very basic words in isiXhosa. Here you go:

Molo – Hello

Ewe – Yes – also Answer to Molo

Haij – No – pronounced like Hey, took me five weeks to get it.

Haijbo – Oh no, used frequently.

Kunjani – How are you?

Ndiphilile – I am fine

Kunjaniwena – And how are you?

Ndiphililenam- I am fine, too

Mlungu – milk, white person (usually meaning me when I hear it)

Nkosi – Thank you

Nkosi kakhulu – Thank you very much.

Andikuva – I did not hear you/I do not understand you

Andias – I do not know.

I know and understand some more words/sentences but I am not sure if it would useful for anybody out there to write them down. Just to give you an idea, I know how to say: The rain is coming; The reverend is out of office; Can I have water, please?; I learn isiXhosa.

The story with the clicks is a little bit complicated to describe. So please read this more as a try. There are basically three clicks: “c”, “x” and “q”. The “c” is the easiest one, pronounced as if you were blaming a child “tstststs”. The “x” is a click you make with your tongue and the “q”, well, I never performed this one correctly I think. It is close to the noise you would make with tongue when you want to imitate a trabbing horse.

As I told you, that’s a try.

One thing I realised is that as long as I do not speak this language, I would always be an outsider among the people I life with. I am excluded of basic conversation as soon as there is more than one person.

I also came to a point to realise that even if I learned the language and improved it to be fluent, that there would still be the differences in culture and traditions. And since this is a question of growing up with, I know that I could never become a part of this society.

Not to mention the question of my skin colour…

Cry the beloved country

Alan Paton
Cry the beloved country

Cry the beloved country - Cover

Written by one of the great, white liberals supporting the Anti-Apartheid struggle over more than 50 years, Alain Paton is drafting a powerful novel going beyond the limits of paper by picturing South Africa in its depth.

Cry the beloved Country is the story of two families, a white and a black one, separated by the race barrier, hundred years of development and nevertheless closely linked to each other. The Zulu reverend Stephen Kumalo searching in the Johannesburg for his son Absalom and the white farmer James Jarvis loosing his son Arthur.

The book was written in 1948 and describes the conditions in the black shantytowns in contrast to the white settlements. It details the problem of the unequal distribution of land, leaving to the black population only such a small part of their ancestral land, that their traditions can only be destroyed. This unequal distribution of land is the issue of important development struggles of South Africa at that time and today as: erosion, rural exodus, overcrowded townships, destroyed families and traditions, violence, and hatred.

Paton has a very own style, which first seems strange but develops soon in an intense rhythm. The story is told more as a tale in a repetitive style reminding some ancient legends. This style is not easy to read but makes the book all together more authentic.

Cry the beloved Coutry pictures life in South Africa as what it has been for a long time and what it is to some extend until today: the white minority closing the eyes to or simply not knowing the black majority out of ignorance, fear and a feeling of superiority. The black majority, half aware of its power but intimidated by hundreds of years of oppression, a feeling of inferiority and fear, torn between hope and rebellion.

After having been to South Africa for three months, I perceived this book as parabola to South African life and history: dead, desperation, seemingly destroying everything but against all odds, people rise above themselves, crossing the invisible but still powerful border of race and their own fear. Thus, they show their pride for this country, a sometimes surprising and strong optimism, and making a promise of a better future.

Paton describes South Africa as what is can be: beautiful, amazing, welcoming, cruel, violent, desperately human – extreme and overwhelming.

Best quotation among others: “I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they (the white minority) are turned to loving, they will find that we (black population) are turned to hating.”

Coming home

Saturday evening, it was not the first time that I took a taxi (= minibus) from Cape Town Central Station to make my way home to Gugs. So I know by now which one to take. Tiny problem this time, the placement person put me in the wrong taxi going to NY1 instead of NY108. I only asked twice…

The problem was now that I was going to NY108 while my host mum was sending someone to pick me up to NY1. Remember: I have been strongly advised not to walk alone in this area.

When I realised that the taxi was going the wrong way, a slight panic came up. I got of at the usual stop but nobody else, so nobody to walk with. Only solution coming to my mind: going right to the police station, which is at the next intersection. Thought, done. While walking, a called the daughter of my host mum who told me to ask the police to give me a lift. And since I had no better idea that was exactly what I did.

Now, imagine you the following picture: a white girl (to be more precise: this one white girl being crazy enough to come to this place) walking in to the police station explaining her problem. The policemen first would not even believe her that she is really, truly living in this area and even working here.

Finally, they agreed to give me a lift because it is too dangerous for me to walk alone (statement of a police constable). For the first time in my life, I have been brought home in a car with four police men, two of them armed with MGs.

We discussed about the areas here (Gugulethu – black township, Manenberg – coloured township, Thambo village – just in between where I stay), the crime, the violence, crazy European volunteers working and living there and sport.

They invited me to come over one evening and to observe their work. Seriously, if I had more time left, I would like to do this. It must be a challenging experience. But so, I just thanked them and I am glad to know that in case of any problems (and may it just be transport), I can address the next police/security officer. Very, very reassuring. No kidding.