Meet My Country: An Introductory to South Africa Through My Eyes

Welcome to my beautiful country, comprising of the tourists money snatcher; the “big five”. Don’t be surprised if you meet people of this country who’ve never seen it, we are like that, we people of this country, we are used to hearing about our own from visitors. Our own indigenous stories are told by outsiders – it is normal to us just like blinking. Notice the beautifully kept national parks – encompassing our lovely natural animals. That is our pride. Look, those are the extremely expensive buildings of Sandton and Umhlanga rocks. These buildings bring us both hope and despair. They were designed by the highest paid team of architects and brought to life by men who will never set foot on them — it is something their income can never afford. Look, admire, smile, hope to own it one day and THEN continue with your journey. Don’t think about the labour of the men who brought these majestic buildings to life, no one ever does, it is normal in this country. Our workmen go underground to yield gold that after purification, they can only admire. Sometimes they die in the process of this labour intensive act; otherwise they endure chronic illnesses for the rest of their lives. Don’t consider that, just look at the finished product, touch it and put it back to its normal position because it’s too expensive for your lifestyle. In our mind, this is the most diverse country in the entirety of Africa. In fact it is so diverse we have deemed it the “rainbow nation”. So welcome to the rainbow nation, this is your home now.

I see you’re getting really comfortable. Here is something about this rainbow nation; it is a corruption fueled state. It is the place where the poor really get poorer and the rich, well those keep on getting filthy rich. In our country most people are considered disadvantaged in many areas and they are indeed extremely disadvantaged. If you could witness the way they think and the things they say about their future, you can’t help but feel that their mind is lacking something more than just an average daily dose of vitamins. By the way they take vitamins only in sickly times, it is usually a free clinical supplement. Otherwise, their starch keeps them going.

In this country, the education system is always going through a name change with of course little to nothing being changed about the education its self. This is my country. I was shoved the same words that my parents learnt, the 25 year gap between us really meant nothing for our education system. My country’s education system channels you into working for somebody once you’ve taken your required dose of its teaching. One thing about it though, it teaches you to speak extremely fluent in a language that is not your own and that’s an achievement we ought to be proud of, apparently.

We are a joke that’s really saddening. You know why? Our people vote and expect houses after that. Grown ass men and women sit; arms fold after a cast of their vote every four years in hope that it brings them the utmost leisure’s of life. Really? Oh yes! They expect their vote to yield and bring at their door step their beloved and desired dreams. It is not their fault but rather a delusion fed into their mind by the picketers. In this country government is blamed for everything that my people are either lazy to go do or they do not know how to go about doing it. Information in this country of mine is scarce and not easily accessed; you hardly find what you need. Therefore the people of my country die. Why? They lack knowledge. No! They do not have access to knowledge.

This is my beloved country and the people who lead us have wisdom of their own. They are not only talented but they are perfectly skilled in their field of expertise ‒ politics. I have observed one thing about this country and politics, if you’re not a good schemer, an excellent fraudster, a magnificent liar and an almost perfect secret keeper, forget it chap, you will not stand the heat of this country’s political game. My country’s politic situation is true blood sweat and corruption better prepare for hard-core survival of the fittest, jaw ripping game – it’s a jungle out there; eat or be eaten!

In my country, the arts are considered to be something not worthy of the government’s not so hard earned money. The government does not care much if you’re a musician, movie maker or a writer; to him you’re a nuisance. So best you back off and nurture your craft far away from him. Well until you’re just perfect to sing for one of his luxurious homes, where he and his furniture dances. The people in the arts, they are all things manipulative and a raw authentic definition of fake. They smile in your face and stab your behind the minute you turn away ‒ my country; beautiful country, too beautiful in fact.

I love this country and have so much hope in it. There is so much skill and talent embedded in its core existence. The country’s youth is faced with drug abuse and confusion but they are so hopeful and smart in their own mischief ways. Don’t like them too much, they will have you fooled. They speak words of intelligence marinated with the desirable amount of wisdom but their action, behold! It is the total opposite of their lovely luring words. They engage in filthy things you’d swear they were the messengers of dirt. I like them though because hey do not want to be judged, not by a single soul. So I end it, no more youth talk.

This is South Africa, hope you like it. Depending on where you’re walking, you might need to leave your cell-phone and wallet as a sign of respect to that man you are about to meet for the first and hopefully the very last time. Why? Don’t ask questions, not a single one, just do it and pass with a straight face and up-right body, it will save your life. I actually do hope you’re rich; you really do want to dwell, sleep, wake, drink and eat on the northern side of Johannesburg or better yet the northern side of Durban where you can even walk on the fluffy sands by the sea side. This is where you explore South African beauty. I could go on forever. You must not forget to pay Cape Town a visit, there is class and elegance invested in that city, you will love it.

Power is not equally shared in my country ‒ don’t forget that. If you’re a woman you might just like to remember your place —the kitchen. You must also reserve your comments until you are given a platform and or an upper hand but still, know your limits! Be aware that you could be the next victim of male pleasures and they can get away with it. Wary that your male counterparts despise you the same way (if not worse) they despise gay people. So best know your position, the kind in which you do not offend men at all. You’re a feminist? Well please side-line that occupation until further notice. Fingers and maybe other things too might wag in your direction if you appear as a woman of power and strength. You doubt me? Engage in a conversation with married career driven women of this country. Well those ladies, have buckets full of stories about women and women positioning so you’re in good hands.

My people are stereotypical so please behave as straight as you can ‒ it will help you, especially if you intend on walking on our cities. My people believe in Christ oh yeah they are Christians but they don’t tolerate “nonsense” so don’t even think about speaking in town if you’re not fluent in their language rather use a map if not a GPS, please. You could be mugged if you don’t obey. Okay now that’s Johannesburg; city of dreams we call it. Some say it’s a little like New York. In Johannesburg you pay people for pointing directions to you and you shall pay more if they feel the need to escort you. Ubuntu does not exist here. We are all Steve Biko’s black man when here ‒ on our own. Note that!

In this country of mine, when you hear anyone saying foreigner, they are referring to people coming from all corners of Africa who have come to, okay I don’t know. My Africanists have too many tricks under their skins it sometimes too difficult to tell their intentions. Please make use of their internet cafés they are so cheap a mere R5 an hour, just be wary of those keyboards, their buttons need to be pressed really hard sometimes and your memory stick might contract a virus or two. Americans? Well those would be tourists! We like those people. We have 11 official languages but I was thinking we should add more, like the sign language and French amongst other widely used languages in this country ‒  indigenous or not.

Do you like to travel? Me too! Here’s a taxi which you can see the ground you travel on when in it. The chair could damage your outfit and its not so pleasant to sit on. It will help you to find something to hold on to when the taxi makes an unexpected turn, just make sure it’s not the door because that could have you kissing the tar and leaving your teeth there whilst at it, be careful! Don’t mention anything of the Gau-train, it was not meant for you and me ‒ too expensive. I don’t own a car so you better start getting used to taxis and finding your own way around town. We should be taking a train, now that’s the culture and lifestyle of a true South African.

Trains here are amazing! You pay a very small fee and get an all-inclusive journey. “Healthy” snacks are available don’t worry about your balanced diet preferences. There are walking stalls to serve your daily fruit dosage. You are spiritual? You’re at the right place, there are all kinds of churches in here just pick one and enjoy the service. Please reward the pastor with at least R1 before you leave, throw it on that hat on your left. If you did not enjoy the service, look into the pastor’s sweaty, old, sad face and you could be propelled into rewarding him with R3 extra. There is comedy on that coach if you prefer that instead. You’d rather have a nice conversation with a stranger? Even better than bluntly staring at the person opposite you, just be really loud because the train noise might break the communication flow. Enjoy the ride; just don’t expect to arrive at your destination until after an hour or two. Smile and greet. When the train gets full along the way, no I meant to say when it gets so congested your nose starts feeling a little weird, stand up for somebody older than you ‒ hold on anywhere. They are probably tired of all the gardening they have been ordered to do by the madam at work, so please be kind.

We do not complain much but when we do, it is in a form of a rally where a lot of singing and dancing is involved, put on your comfy shoes. Be prepared to run and or swear its part of the ordeal. If you want to have a really peaceful life, befriend a few taxi drivers and one or two well-connected police officers. You are in it for a very nice life if you do that. Otherwise you will pay for things you ought not to be paying for. Be kind whenever you can and maybe drop two rands or five to those brothers who do not look like they have had a good bath in the longest of years. You shall meet them at the robots most of the time, if your skin is anyway fair, please put in at least 10 rands. Well if you’re dark like me, they don’t expect much from you. They regard you as one of their own ‒ broke, hungry and poor. So you can just look away and walk on but for your sake I truly hope it’s neither dusk nor night.

This is South Africa, I can go on forever, I however don’t want to spoil the journey for you and the things you could explore. There is plenty for you in store. We are a loving country filled with the same amount of hate if you step on our feet. The food we have, you’d be stupid not to try that, it is best experienced in what we call “eKasi” along with Kwaito music and “Bujwa” dancing. This is South Africa, we are much westernised and English is slowly becoming the widely used language. We refer to people by where they come from, their race or by what they usually wear, feel free to do the same. In this country, soccer unites us whilst politics divide us.

Please find what you like and be joyful in it. We have mountains, rivers, the sea, dams, game reserves, parks, zoo’s, love, hate, anger, corruption, bitterness, four standard television channels which require a television license, a handful of radio stations with fantastic radio jocks, clubs, lounges, prostitutes, beauty parlors I mean you’d really be one of a non-existing kind not to find anything interesting. Try the gizzard kebabs sold in what the not so advantaged call a town. If you’re still not sold then I guess you’re a difficult customer. This is my country; I was born here, I grew up here. I learnt how to share, cry, talk and write in this country. This is where I find love and peace. My dreams will fruition in this country. It is by far not the best of countries but it is my country nonetheless and in my own strange way, I love it!

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6 thoughts on “Meet My Country: An Introductory to South Africa Through My Eyes

  1. Botanic *gardens not grounds, Thabiso, gardens!!!* I mean though I love your writing, you’re absolutely brilliant.

    Like

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