28 February 2008

Rainbow Nation

There is so much to tell you about South Africa, but I'll just jump right in.

In South Africa many, if not most African woman carry their babies on their backs, wrapped on tightly with a towel, or blanket. Emma demonstrates on the left. In some areas you very seldom see an African woman pushing a pram.

Standard transport for the majority of South Africans, is the taxi. This is not a yellow cab, this is a minibus, which is called a "kwela-kwela". These vehicles are oft criticized for being speed devils and road hogs, though this is not always true. Over loading and lack of maintenance to vehicles is a problem. People are not usually transported right to their front door, as you'd expect with this service. The taxi follows a route, like a bus, and has a spot where it always stops. This place is not marked, as a bus route is, and may be a corner, an empty lot, or simply in middle of the street! Folk often have to walk long distances to the nearest taxi pick up point. In towns/city centres many leave from a central point called a taxi rank.

This place is a hub of excitement. Each taxi driver usually has a helper who takes the money(no tickets given). There are usually fruit sellers and sometimes other vendors in and around the rank. The air is filled with beats of loud rhythmic music, and the shouts of the taxi drivers, asking for passengers.

Many pavements in streets in South Africa are lined with street vendors. This is especially in the urban areas, in the shopping areas. Vendors sell an array of goods. In our main street there are fruit vendors, folk selling hand bags, hats and sunglasses, and another stand selling clothing, face cloths, sweets, takkies, purses and beanies. Some areas have prohibited vending. Something I thankfully have not yet seen been vended is fresh meat. Now that really does not go down well with me! It does happen all over Africa, but I have not seen it.

Another unusual sight is the telephone table. A person can be seen, standing, making a call, on the pavement of a busy street. This is a portable telephone system, sold by leading cell phone companies here. People pay to make a call. By the way there are the normal public telephone booths available too. Cellular (mobile) telephones are seen everywhere, carried by rich and poor alike.

Some of the words I've just used may need some explaining: Sweets are candy, and takkies, or tekkies are sneakers. A beanie is a knitted cap, with a big fold turned up. They often have the South African flag, or some rugby teams emblem on them.

That's all I have time for now. I'm busy preparing for Emma's party. She's turning four years old on Sunday!

Has this been of interest to you?


  1. Hi Lindy,
    Your post was so interesting. I love hearing about different cultures, especially when the person describing the culture is living and breathing it. The culture sounds so vibrant and alive.

    I live in Australia, and the culture here is very different from America, England or Africa.

  2. I loved this!

    "pavements" - is that a sidewalk?

  3. Yes that's it.
    Glad that you enjoyed it.


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