A Couple of weeks ago we wrote a post called: Se7en + 1 Questions Kids Ask About Living in Africa… We get tons of questions from our readers about living in Africa. Often South Africa is called The Rainbow Nation… and it isn’t just because it is made up of so many different people from all over the world… South Africa is multi-colored in every aspect… it is a land of many many cultures and many many contrasts. There is so much diversity that you can really see the whole world all in one day here!!!
Where we live in Cape Town we are really close to the city, but wherever we are we can walk up the mountain and away from the city and into the wild, far from city life. Where we are we are close to the first world and modern shops and malls and technology and we are alongside the third world where houses don’t have water, electricity or bathrooms. Where we live my kids can play sport with kids who have all the equipment necessary to play at national level and my kids can play football with street kids in the parking lot with a can. It really is a bright and diverse culture… and The Rainbow Nation is a fitting description.
- Do you have elephants where you live and do you see them often?
- Are there cars where you live?
- Does it snow where you live?
- Do you play with Lego’s and ride bikes.
- Do you live near to the Grasslands or the Jungle?
- Do you have special holidays in South Africa?
- Do we play sports here?
- Do you have a special South African outfit?
So here you go a fresh batch of questions from our readers overseas:
- Have you lived in South Africa your whole life?
- Do you Shop in Supermarkets?
- What Sort of Houses Do You Live In?
- What fruits do you eat?
- What is the craziest South African food you eat?
- Do you speak any languages other than English?
- Howzit? – How is it going? A casual greeting.
- Izit? – Literally “Is it?” We use it to say “really?”
- Just now – Sometime today… as apposed to “now now” – anytime soon.
- Ja-Nee – Is Afrikaans and means: yes-no… sometimes things aren’t exactly yes or no!!!
- Lekker – Afrikaans word for sweet and we use this for anything good, you may have had a lekker day, or read a lekker book.
- Eina – pronounced “ay-na” menas ouch.
- Gogga – uses a soft ch sound like in loch… and means little bug. As apposed to gogo (with a hard g that means granny).
- Eish – exclamation meaning I just can’t believe it.
- In South Africa are there American restaurants? What type of foods do you “eat out”?
- Have you ever seen a whale since you live close to the water?
Our family has lived in South Africa all our lives and our parents were born here too… Our Grandparents lived here most of their lives as well, though some of them were born in Europe before they moved out to South Africa. So yes, third generation South Africans, which means our children are fourth generation South Africans. This is indeed our home. I know that my mother’s family and by that I mean her great grandmother’s family, came out at the time of the 1820 Settlers. I know they were shipwrecked off the Cape of Storms with nothing and somehow survived!!! But that is about all I know – we definitely need to do some genealogy studies this year!!!
Yes we shop in supermarkets, you get really huge ones and smaller ones. Most folk here buy their groceries at Supermarkets. Otherwise, we have some great markets for vegetables and home grown produce. We have shopping malls with clothes and shoes and book stores, restaurants and movies. And then there are little corner grocery stores… or we call them cafes in most neighborhoods where you can by bread and milk and a couple of other goodies – mostly treats to eat. And in the townships they have SPAZA Shops, which are usually out of someone’s home and sell a couple of basic food or household products.
Something that we get here that is probably a little different to where you are from, is our street art. We have a lot of folk, at every stop light, selling street art. Many people make a living from these sort of industries. The art work is bright and funky, usually made from recycled soda cans and beads… Definitely worth stopping to look at!!!
Well you get all sorts of houses over here… And across any South African town you will see all sorts of homes: cardboard homes, plastic homes, wooden homes, brick and stone homes. Squashed on top of each other homes and far apart and isolated homes. Teeny tiny shack homes and huge mansions with everything that you could dream of in a home, and of course everything in-between homes.
We live on the slopes of a mountain over looking the sea… Our house is a brick home, one of the houses on the slope of that mountain. I imagine it is pretty much like your home… we have a lounge and a kitchen, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a surrounding garden. You can take a look at our home on this house tour a friend did for us.
Like most places in the world we can get most fruits, shipped in for sure. Locally we grow a lot of fruit: apples, citrus and berries and a lot of our fruit is exported to tables in Europe!!! We also have grapes and a world renowned wine industry. Further up the East coast from Cape Town – towards Natal our country has a more tropical climate, which means that we can eat mangoes and pineapples and bananas and so on as well.
Typical South African food would probably be pap, a mielie meal porridge that almost everyone has eaten at one time or another. It is cheap and eaten plain or with relish or gravy… anything really. Otherwise we are a nation of meat eaters and really if you can cook it on an open fire then we probably do, and we call it a braai (sounds like: brrrr – eye). Otherwise, because there are so many diverse cultures here – you do get a lovely array of flavors. Typical Cape foods are rich spicy foods like curry and bobotie. Milk tart, which is a baked custard pie and koeksisters (cooked similarly to donuts but they are dipped in a spicy sugar syrup when they are done) are very popular desserts here… and delicious.
However, you asked about weird food: Hmmm South Africa does have some pretty weird food choices: Mopane worms – these are fried caterpillars; Tripe – is a collection of all the bits and pieces of meat like brains and intestines and so on and they are cooked together to make a stew; and I would have to mention Smileys, not for the faint-hearted, these are sheeps’ heads that are cooked on an open fire, they are called smileys because the skin stretches into a smile – and then the brains are eaten… gotta say way too weird for me but I know someone who sells them as street food in a local township and makes a good living from it.
South Africa has eleven official languages. Almost everyone speaks English, and most people speak some Afrikaans, which is a language of Dutch descent. Most people speak it because we have to learn it at school. Then there is a local language in each area as well and in Cape Town that language is Xhosa. When I was at school we learnt some basic Xhosa but when we meet up with Xhosa speaking friends at church say, we usually speak in English. We also have refugee friends from countries further north of South Africa and they mostly speak French. So when my kids get to high school they learn French because it is such a widely spoken language.
While most people do speak English, we have a lot of local expressions that a foreigner might find a bit confusing, here are a couple for you to try:
Because we live close to the city center we do have fast food restaurants like many of you do overseas: McDonalds, Wimpy, KFC, Subway and so on. These are not really healthy food choices so we tend to cook all our own meals from scratch at home. With a family of ten food is a very important aspect of everyday, you could call it a way of life. Food preparation is a family event and we prepare most of our meals together as a team.
We do love to eat out and we tend to eat out at restaurants that have a national flavor… So we will visit an Italian or an Indian restaurant. Recently we visited a restaurant, Gold, where they serve food with a lot of African flavors.
And the Se7en + 1th Question…
We do have whales along our coastline, they visit in the winter months from May to October. We love watching the whales, we can even see them from our home!!! There are some really superb spots along our coastline to watch the whales… They are enormous and graceful and well worth watching… When they breach, that is jump right out of the water, it is simply incredible. We are headed into the whale season now and we will be watching the whales really soon!!!
We hope you enjoyed the answers to your questions… We feel so blessed to live here, where we can meet so very many different people, from all walks of life. We are so lucky to be able to mingle in crowds and hear so many languages and be part of so many different experiences. Our lives are so much richer for it. If you have any other questions about life in South Africa please feel free to ask us in the comments and when we have a collection of questions we will post another post for you.