Monday, May 31, 2010

Enigmatic, yet stunningly beautiful South Africa

A good friend of mine in South Africa sent me one of those items that get forwarded ad nauseam to all and sundry. Normally, I don't go for that sort of thing (with the exception of one or two people who know the difference between good and bad material), but this one was interesting. Why? Well, two audiences here, two different reasons:

South African audience: You've probably seen this many times. If not, read and enjoy - it needs no further explanation.

Everybody else: This is a somewhat pithy, trenchant view of the current state of affairs in S.A. I'm publishing this on the eve of the World Cup because, while S.A. is about to demonstrate what a wonderful country it is (and, yes, it really is, despite the reality!), I think it's important to understand the deeper, underlying problems there.

But, before my fellow U.S. denizens start gloating, please bear in mind the issues that we are currently struggling with - I need not point them out, just have yourself a bit of a think. Please also note the commonality of some of the observations below, particularly #7, #13 and #20!

Comments in [square brackets] are mine. So, without further ado:
South Africa is a great country because…

1. You can eat half-dried meat and not be considered disgusting. [This is a reference to biltong, a.k.a. jerky.]

2. Nothing is your fault; you can blame it all on apartheid. [U.S.: Substitute "segregation," or even "Bush," "Clinton," "Democrats," "Republicans," or your latest scapegoat!]

3. You get to buy a new car every 3 months and the insurance company even pays for it.

4. You can experience pathetic service in eleven official languages.

5. Where else can you get oranges with 45% alcohol content at rugby matches? [This one eludes me; guess I've been living the U.S. for too long. Can any Suid-Afrikaner help? Update June 5: See first comment by Anonymous (wink wink!) below; makes sense to me.]

6. It's the only country in the world where striking workers show how angry they are by dancing.

7. You're considered clumsy if you cannot: use a cell phone (without car kit), change CDs, drink a beer, put on make-up, read the newspaper and smoke, all at the same time while driving a car at 160 kph in a 60 kph zone. [i.e. ≈100 mph in a ≈35 mph zone.] 

8. Great accent. (!!!) [Uh-huh.]

9. If you live in Johannesburg , you get to brag about living in the most dangerous city in the world. [Well, I dunno about that...]

10. Burglar bars become a feature, and a great selling point for your house.

11. You can decorate your garden walls with barbed wire.

12. The tow-trucks are the first on the scene for most major crimes, without being called. The police you have to call about three times.

13. Votes have to be recounted until the right party wins.

14. Illegal immigrants leave the country because the crime rate is too high. [Now there's a novel solution to the U.S. immigration problem!]

15. The police ask you if they must follow up on the burglary you've just reported.

16. A murderer gets a 6 month sentence and a pirate TV viewer 2 years. [There are U.S. analogies here.]

17. The prisoners strike and get to vote in elections!

18. The police stations have panic buttons to call armed response when they are burgled.

19. Police cars are fitted with immobilizers and gear locks!

20. Condoms for free - shopping plastic bags for sale.

Ja nee!! Dis lekker hier!! ["Yes no!! It's nice here!!" Please do not ask me what "yes no" means, it's just not translatable!]
And, if you would like to see a somewhat unvarnished set of pictures of Johannesburg, click on the title of this post to visit one of my favorite sites.


Tsotsi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Since it is probably illegal (and at soccer matches it damn well should be) to take bottled alcohol into a stadium, here's my suggestion as to what it might mean: Take one orange and one large syringe filled with your favourite liquor (Vodka for example). Insert the syringe into the orange and, lo and behold, an orange with an alcohol content of 45%. Take into the stadium with you and look like a health nut. Pierce a small hole in the skin of the orange and suck out the vodka and orange.