South African flag

South Africa, My House, My Home – Proudly ZA!

Never mind the shadows over the nation after getting beaten by the Japanese at the rugby on Saturday. Just listen to eVOid’s Shadows and all will be right with the world.

If you’re younger than 40-ish you probably have no idea who eVoid is. Never mind – they are an 80s South African band. Their music is so evocative of Africa, South Africa in particular, that it stirs something deep within me each time I listen to it.

I grooved to eVoid on the way home today and it made the traffic bearable. This is when I don’t mind sitting in traffic because I simply don’t want the music to end. Oh, and the scary thing – I had this song on repeat! I’m weird that way!

WordPress’s daily prompt today is Home Turf, and we’re asked to name five things that make our house a home. I’m taking a bit of licence here and making this post about South Africa, my house my home. This house has about 55 million people living in it, give or take a few million.

Well, eVOid’s music is the first thing that makes this house a home.

traffic in the city by
Early morning Joburg traffic; the glow of the pre-rising sun a beautiful cold backdrop to the frenetic traffic, even at that early hour

The second one is the sheer courage and determination of us as a people. Despite all the problems facing our country, South Africans are determined. Nothing was a more stark reminder of this than the lady I saw very early this morning selling breakfast to construction workers before their workday started.

This country is full of determined budding entrepreneurs like this lady. She may just be putting food on her family’s table, but it takes courage and determination to get up when most people are fast asleep, cook a big batch of mielie meal and other nutritious food, pack it into plastic buckets, and set up a stall outside a taxi rank or construction site and sell it to hungry workers who haven’t had time to eat breakfast before leaving home. This is the equivalent of the food truck to be found outside office buildings.

The contrast between rich and poor areas in Africa. The poor township of Alexandra in the foreground in contrasted with the rich Sandton skyline in the distance.
The contrast between rich and poor areas in Africa. The poor township of Alexandra in the foreground in contrasted with the rich Sandton skyline in the distance.

Thirdly, the variety of South African accents and the eleven official languages. My ears prick up at the sound of these accents and languages wherever I am in the world. There’s an immediate familiarity and we gravitate towards each other. Who else speaks Afrikaans or another of the official languages (that is not English off course because the whole world understands English) to each other when travelling so that we can’t be understood? Che and I certainly do even though Afrikaans is our third language.

In position number four – these are in no particular order – are the Outsurance points people! They are simply the best thing to get traffic flowing when the robots (see number five below) are out. They are professional and assertive – you have to be, to be able to control South African drivers who just want to get to work or home. When one of these individuals points at you and tells you to stop, you stop! They are courteous and I love it that they always pair up. They’re instantly recognisable in their scooters and familiar colours.

The bundu bush
The bundu bush

Number five is the uniquely South African terminology. Here’s a taster:

  • Robots – they are not those science fiction automated characters, this is what we call traffic lights
  • Lekker – nice!
  • Ja – yes
  • China – not a citizen of China, it means a friend
  • Howzit! – how are you?
  • Ag shame! – it can mean so much! From expressing compassion, “Ag shame the Bokke lost on Saturday” to an expression of endearment, “Ag shame, did you see how cute the baby looked?”
  • Eina (pronounced “ay-nah”)  – ouch!
  • Fundi – an expert
  • Sorry – it sometimes means “sorry” but many times it can also mean “excuse me” or “let me pass through” or is used to sympathise with someone, like this, “Eina I stubbed my toe on the bed,” – other person’s response, “Oh, sorry.”
  • Bundu – wildness or bush area

There are so many more, you just have to google South Africanisms.

We speak English here in South Africa so you don’t need a phrase book, but if you don’t come armed with an alphabetised list of these terms you may just think that we speak funny and not understand us at all (this last sentence is a South Africanism, in case you’re wondering what “speaking funny” is – it doesn’t mean that we’re all cracking jokes the whole day, it means “weird or strange”…in that context off-course. Use it in another context, like “Trevor Noah is a funny person” and it means exactly that – “funny haha”! Because Trevor Noah is a funny guy).

In case you’ve gotten this far, and are wondering, this whole post is written the way us South Africans speak. The grammar is not always correct but we understand each other, in this house I call a home – South Africa!

Here at last is the promised video of eVoid’s Shadow. Enjoy and I hope you put it really loud and dance to it.


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