We crossed the border from Namibia heading for Cape Town one sunny afternoon and wild camped on a farm up in the mountains and miles from anyone, apart from, that is, the farmer, who saw our windscreen reflect in the sun and came to investigate. He was cool and said we could stay. The ensuing conversation revealed he had several thousand acres and this type of land sold for around £50.00 an acre in northern South Africa (SA)!
So we had made it to the most southerly country in Africa. South Africa, the land of Sun and wine and …. more wine really.
Anyway, what a change from what we had experienced. Tarmac roads, big smiles and beautiful food and wine, did I mention the wine?
Within a few days, we hit Cape Town and loved it.
The wine farms were everywhere and we were in heaven.
The Vinyards or Wine farms as the South Africans call them are stunning.
We didn't rest on our laurels though, we got stuck into a few maintenance jobs for the truck that kept us stationary for several weeks, but we had wine……. The vineyards are divine and ambling around, lunching and quaffing became the new norm as the truck maintenance rumbled on, and we made new friends, of Black, white and coloured ethnic groups. And yes, that is politically correct, in SA to say those words?
One place we laid our heads in Cape town was a municipal campsite near the city centre. Not a pretty place but super easy to get into town. There were many long-termers on the site in caravans and tents that had seen better days but we were learning many white SA people had been displaced over the years and this type of living was the norm for many whites now.
A young kid around 9/10 years old, the son of a family staying on the site took a shine to our truck and befriended us straight away and after a while, he asked if we were to stay on the site permanently. I said no, and asked if his family lived there permanently. His response was, “We have been, but we leave on Monday at 10.00”. I asked why 10.00 and his response, “we are being evicted and we don't have anywhere else to go”?
A grim reality check on life for some.
So, digging a little deeper into SA and the economic situation, there appear to be 3 main groups in Cape Town at least.
Whites live mainly in the better property. Guarded and gated.
Coloured and Black people live in brick-built, but sub-standard housing in the suburbs.
The ‘other’ Blacks living in the tin shack Townships
The first two groups are what they are, but the third group, the ‘other’ Blacks are mainly migrants from Bostwana, Malawi, Zimbabwe etc who had come to SA in search of work. They are illegal, but, these countries supported SA during Aparthite and so the SA government turns a blind eye to them being there and they survive by working and I mean working. Doing the jobs no one else wants to do, or simply won't do.
They turn up early and leave late. They are in demand and they are cheap?
Another slant on the current situation is, If you are white, middle-aged and unskilled or semi-skilled, forget trying to get employment. The government set targets for companies to employ black people ahead of whites.
To understand that statement you also must understand blacks outnumber whites 8 to 1 so this policy probably has cudos?
And now a little light relief from a thorny subject.
The Penguins of Boulders Bay - So cute!
In a similar vein, I heard of a Black girl with a top-class degree, who recently graduated from University and could not get an interview in her chosen field in desperation, she changed her name on her C.V. to a white SA male name and had numerous interview offers? She went to one interview and explained to the potential employer her reasons for her actions and Bingo! She had a job.
Charlotte and Amos. Amos was the guide that showed us around the Townships of the town of Cradock In the Eastern Cape.
An example of a justice post erected in a garden. This is the place the family go to discuss and resolve their issues.
Another oddity I found out was
, that some Cape Town women (Balck and coloured), still remove their 4 front top teeth. This is thought to be a fashion statement or, a move to enhance sexual enjoyment for their partner? It has even been outlawed for dentists to make these extractions and so it is now performed at home!
We also learnt in the Black culture, Tradition is everything, young men are still taken at puberty and the father selects a male in the community to circumcise the boys. They are taken out of their home, put in the forest and circumcised.No anaesthetic, no cleaning of the blade.
The next day the father visits his son to ensure he is okay, and then he is left for a month and comes home a Man. We saw similar in Senegal, but that was even more brutal.
Funerals amongst the black community are paramount and the show of a good burial is a real status enhancer. To this end, families borrow money to perform the best send-off they can and this leads to difficulties later down the line.
In many Black people's gardens, there still stands a pole sporting a cattle’s skull where the family or friends can stand to sort their differences. Tradition is everything in these communities.
Diffrent communaties, different values.Different traditions.
A typical Township house but this one with a beautiful garden.
Christianity is very well supported throughout South Africa with many significant churches.
Whilst waiting for our jobs to be completed on the truck, we learnt a little more about the Afrikans language is spoken by around 13.5% of the population and is somewhat based on the Dutch Language and it was time to learn a few snippets
Elke huis het sy kruis
English translation - Every house has its cross
Thinking about history, it's a profound statement.
Lyk ny boem groot hierin
English translation - Does my bum look big in this?
Well, you never know?
Some super cute places to browse in this melting pot of a country.
We learnt about Load shedding. The process of the power from the grid being turned off for 2 or 3 hours every day to save power. This was causing untold damage to businesses and households alike. Think of being in a city centre and someone turns off the traffic lights? Think about Hospitals, schools and shops and Load shedding has been going on for years.
We learned security is a major worry among SA people and we are honestly not sure if this is warranted or not? We have felt safe so far in the main.
We learnt how to Braai (BBQ on burning or smouldering wood). You simply aren't a white SA unless you Braai many times a week!
We also learnt some facts about the ANC (African national congress), the incumbent political party in SA. The party of Nelson Mandella, still in power and the common view amongst whites (as we spoke to), a party doing little for any ethnic group?
A Donkey boiler on a rural campsite. You light the fire under the boiler and that heats the water for your shower. It was a quick dip though as the shower block certainly wasn't heated!
2 cuties we met and who were more than happy to share our BBQ ....... or was it a Braai?
We met this handsome guy on a beach of all places and he was happy to pose for this photograph.
Just Chillin is all.
On a similar theme, we went to Robyn island, the place Nelson Mandella was jailed.
You are taken on a tour of the island and shown the place Mandella was held. Your tour guide is an ex-inmate, so someone of real knowledge.
Now, I was under the impression Mandela was held in solitary confinement during his time in prison but apparently not. Mandella had access to other prisoners, sports facilities and even a garden of his own.
That all said, he had his freedom taken away and that can never be rectified.
The visit to Robyn island-inspired us and we wanted to know more so we embarked (when we left Cape Town) on visiting the Nelson Mandela Museum at Mthatha.
Ironically, as we approached the town, we were stopped by the police and informed there were riots taking place and what was our business in town? We told them we wanted to visit the museum. Their retort was to offer us an escort there.
Once we arrived, we were parked directly in front of the building and the police instructed all security staff to guard our truck. We felt humbled and on entering the museum, we realised we were the only visitors?
The contents were mainly copies of posters and poorly made statues of Mandella and his colleagues. Not at all inspiring, I'm afraid.
So, what have we learnt so far from this country?
Diversity for a start. So many factions pulling in so many ways.
My understanding is, that Whites tolerate Blacks and Blacks tolerate Whites.
Both have their own cultures and so it should be (in my opinion)
The colours don't mix (including coloured's and Blacks), they prefer their own company although I am told this is changing with time and education.
The whites have the upper hand and hold most of the aces (fact, not a nice one but the truth). Hopefully, the tide is changing but we will see.
SA is a really interesting mix and we have just removed the lid. With the truck almost on the floor due to the weight of all the wine we bought, we head East now and who knows what we will discover.
South Africa - Simply amazing and we ain't done here yet!
Can we make it?
District 6 Museum. Cape Town. An area of Cape Town where all inhabitants were moved from the area for development. Mainly a Black area at the time and is now a trendy/Arty area.
A beautiful morning.
The entrance to Robyn Island prison.
Some rare and beautiful Pansy shells were found on a beach. Rare, but Charlotte found 3 in one hit!
I took this photograph in the Nelson Mandella museum. Interesting words?
A few facts to finish.
If SA was 100 people
80 would be Black
9 would be Coloured
8 would be white
2 would be Indian /Asian
80% of the population are Christian
Population per Sqm