Sometimes in Africa, you will find that things are done a little differently…
In urban areas of Johannesburg, pushchairs (strollers or buggies) are often impractical. They probably would not be welcome on precarious mini-bus taxi rides, neither are they suited to some of the non-existent pavements or uneven roadside verges. I also imagine that for many, the cost of pushchairs is prohibitive (if you had to choose between buying a pushchair or putting dinner on the table, which would it be?). Then you would have the issue of storage. Accommodation for many is compact and crowded. All this means that seeing ladies with babies or toddlers tied to their backs is a very regular, normal occurrence. They also manage to make it look rather easy.
South Africa absolutely embodies the techni-coloured Africa of fable where savage beasts roam, the venomous scuttle and slither and the birds kick off with a riotous party in the treetops every morning. Everything is bigger, the birds, the bees, the bugs, the spiders and the snakes.
“What does it say on all those posters? Please slow down so that I can read one of them.” This is just what you want your mother-in-law to point out when she’s visiting isn’t it? I’m talking about the mini posters stuck on lamp-posts and roadside electrical boxes citywide in Johannesburg. The Abortion number plastered ironically outside a hospital. The ones claiming to be able to assist with all sorts of problems – promising to magically reunite you with your ex and miraculous cures for the under endowed.
Plenty of expats constantly roll their eyes, and chant T.I.A., (This Is Africa), when things don’t function as they should do here in South Africa. But for those of us who have lived elsewhere on the Dark Continent, we are a little more sanguine. In fact, we smugly role OUR eyes and reassure them that as African expat postings go, South Africa is Africa Lite.
I have a distinct childhood memory of standing by the back door in my parents’ 1970’s avocado and cream wallpapered kitchen during a storm, my eyes raking the sky expectantly for giant clowns. “The clouds are fighting” is what mum had actually said to explain away the roaring thunder. Continue reading
Despite previous travel trials with the kids, I was almost looking forward to flying home this Christmas….almost. A night flight with two well-seasoned little travellers, an unlimited supply of movies, plenty of white noise and a nip of wine (for me) to assist with fragmented sleep. It should have been a piece of Christmas cake…
Being British, it’s long overdue that I conform to my cultural stereotype and talk about the weather. Despite living here in the Rainbow Nation, I think rainbows are just about the only weather phenomenon we have not yet experienced. We have shivered on cold and frosty mornings. We have sizzled, like sausages on a braai, under the baking sun. We have experienced wrathful thunder and lightning and traffic stopping rain and hail. We’ve even ‘survived’ a freak sandstorm. Continue reading
Are you thinking of moving to or visiting Johannesburg? A lot of people have plenty of concerns about doing so, after all, it has a pretty rotten reputation. If New York is the Big Apple, Johannesburg is perhaps perceived more as the Bad Apple.
In the 19th century, maps of Africa charted the coastal areas, but the interior, as yet a mystery to European explorers, was left blank…or dark. The romantic name ‘The Dark Continent’ was coined and is still used to this day although in our case we use it in a different context…..