THE REAL DEAL ABOUT BEING IN SOUTH AFRICA

  • So first off I've always had a knack for doing things the hard way. I'm a master of the 'I'll figure it out once I get there' approach.

    Acquiring the proper documents here is like getting thru a football length brick wall of horeshit that is the beauracracy of the South African governmental process. Partly because it's the government. And partly because every aspect of business here is intimately integrated with tribal and cultural life.

    It's like being a circus poodle jumping thru a thousand and one flaming hoops at a circus run by the clown from "It".

    There's about ten documents required for a work permit that breaks down into three other documents each. And. They. All. Cost.

    My medical document meant going to the seedy part of town, paying a fee and waiting in a room just to be directed to another room to wait some more. Then the doctor who wears jeans calls me in and asks, 'Are you healthy?' I say, "Yes". He uses a stethoscope to listen to my breathing, and then another to...listen to my breathing? He signs my paper and then we chat about America, women and the corruption to avoid while getting the rest of my documents for half an hour. 

    He drops gems like, 'All the women are bad.'. 'Find the sweet spot of just before college and just after highschool for a good one.'. 'Don't date anyone from Joburg(Johannesburg).'. And 'If anyone leads you into a room to receive money for the rest of my documents, don't give it to them.'. Oh, and 'Never trust a Nigerian.'.

    Phat asses everywhere. Everyday is a great day for sight seeing the glory that is the South African woman. I've seen four Phatty's that have the power to bring peace to all of mankind.

    Others have suggested that coloreds(mixed people, half Black and white), Indians, and Xhosa's are the worst to get in a relationship with. I can speak from personal experience that my crazy ex Xhosa girlfriend adds credibility to this one.

    Then there's the cows. The fucking cows. So apparently if you want to marry a woman here you have to pay in cows or the cash equivalent in cash and prizes. Like a game show for life. 'Lobolo' is what it's called.

    Having traveled around the world I've picked up a few words in different languages. What's fascinating is how much the Zulu language which everyone seems to know sounds like it's own thing with similarities to Mandarin and Spanish. The vowel sounds are exactly like Spanish. My Zulu sucks but trying to speak it has made them like me a little more.

    Irony and sarcasm. They don't get it.

    Everyone speaks English and as anywhere else there is it's slang. How I understand it, eesh=shit, howisit=how are you doing?, neh=understand?, yo=shock(My ex shouted' Yoooooo!' when we were first together. When I learned this meant shock and/surprise my ego gained 100lbs.).

    Oh, then there's the brutha from anotha motha mentality that I had when I got here. Nope. I'm the American. That whole land of the ancestors thing is largely looked upon as a tongue and cheek kinda of like 'bling' in the hip hop community. At one time it may have had weight but in today's mentality nothing more than an inside joke about outsiders. Some have told me 'Welcome home.' Oddly by more white people than my own...well, not my own but the Black folks here.

    I'm also asked for money everyday by different staff members. Everyone uses transport. The taxi vans to travel from place to place. And that cash adds up quick at the end of a week. That shit is annoying.

    The job break down from what I'm told tends to be Ethiopian own their own trade shops. Nigerians own their own, but apparently the illegitimate ones are responsible for trafficking of drugs and slave labor. Zimbabweans are in service legitimate as well as prostitution. That includes taxi's as well.

    90% of the workers in the restaurant industry and banks from what I'm told are Zimbabweans. My frustration is the fact that South Africa depends on the destabilization of their country to over work and under pay them. But if they decided to leave all at once they would tank the SA economy. 

    So if they were to pull together and open up their own businesses where they owned, operated and employed each other they could be an economic powerhouse to liberate their own people. But they are complacent to just stay in the same fucked up position. Sound familiar?

    Most of the Black folks here believe the US is the greatest place ever even though they've never been. The propaganda is strong.

    Apparently back in the day Shaka Zulu's brother left half of his army and created the 'Zims'. Hence, there is some very old tribal beef that rivals the Hatchfields and McCoys between the South Africans and the Zims. Not everywhere of course, but it explains a lot.

    The Zims also like Maponya worms. They describe the taste as being the greatest thing since God created heaven. Apparently they taste creamy, chewy, and the closest thing is like a crab nacho in texture and taste. At least that's the best way I could understand it. Upon hearing the description and realizing they are essentially caterpillars I nearly dry heaved. But this is the deal.

    Then there's the praying to the ancestors. Or better known to me as Voodoo. It's interesting how some folks are Christian and very much against it. Then there are those who practice it along with their Christianity. Some say it's evil, while others say there's good and evil. 

    How exactly does something your people have practiced for centuries become 'evil' after colonization makes me all kinds of ill.

    I'm also frustrated by how the moral compass here is usually pointed south. There is very much a look out for self at the expense of others here. Lying, cheating, stealing all on the table depending on what the occasion calls for. Not everyone, but it is very much 'normal'. And these same people will profess to be ardent christians. Some things are truly universal.

    Manners are for the most part nonexistent. 

    Ah, then there's the airtime and data on the phones. It's always best to buy data and use it for the 'What's app' to make phone calls and text. Airtime is the biggest scam in phone service I've ever seen.

    As far as living, the Air bnb's have been pretty cool , complete with amenities on the five star level accommodations.

    But my actual apartment while having an awesome view on the fifth floor, doesn't have an operating elevator. It looks like the people who refurbished the building said 'fuck it' when they got to the kitchen area. And the water is always cold except for around midnight to 5 ish when there's no water at all.

    The neighborhood where I live in Killarney is supposed to be the safest. Hillsborough where I was going to live apparently is so bad that my assistant GM started prepping me on what to do once I get robbed there.

    I went with some coworkers to feed and play with a township full of children in Roodeport. Rewarding and heartbreaking.

    I also had to leave the country for a while to go to Kenya because my time ran out on my visa before I could obtain my last two documents. Apparently, you get 90 days and you have to go somewhere else that is not a neighboring country touching the border then you can return for another stint..for 'vacation' purposes of course. But that's entirely another story for another time.

    Every aspect here is different and presents it's own challenges. 

    The reality is despite the fact I get charged more for goods and services because of my american accent, wash my clothes by hand, and am writing this at my local starbucks because my current place doesn't have internet...I breathe easier here than I ever have in the US.

    True, my hatred for the 400 years of racism, social economic oppression, daily microaggressions, and my own people not feeling as if they need to be liberated didn't exist in the US I would probably be not so easy about my current stay here. But that is the reality and I am cool. Challenge accepted.

No Stickers to Show

X