11 June 2017

10 Things I Wish You Knew About South Africa

For many people, Africa is a distant continent. However, for me, on the most Southern tip of Africa exists a country called South Africa. As distant as this country may seem to you, I get to call it ‘home home’, as we established in this post. 
Admittedly, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with my country; Depending on the day, what our politics looks like or even my mood (and sometimes even my mood towards the president) the one emotion tends to outweigh the other.
Massive misconceptions and stereotypes exist towards all countries in the world; We all have expectations. I do too. I think misconceptions could be more prevalent towards Africa than any other continent, mostly due to ignorance and lack of exposure.
To change that, here’s a list of what I wish everyone knew about my home, South Africa.

#1 South Africa has 11 official languages

Steph and a beaded statue of Nelson Mandela, in 2014.
Hold out all your fingers. Now borrow a finger from a friend. That’s how many languages South Africa has, officially (never mind the dialect that results from the conglomeration of all those languages together). Yet, somehow everyone still manages to understand one another. 

English is the lingua-franca of South Africa with an African language called Zulu as the most widely spoken language, followed by Xhosa and then the notoriously colonial language called Afrikaans. 
I personally speak English and Zulu. Here’s a bit of a Zulu lesson for you:

                    English: My name is (Steph)….             Zulu: Igama lami nguSteph 
                 English: I like to read and write books   Zulu: Ngithanda ukufunda nobhala izincwadi

#2 South Africa’s Currency is the Rand

The U.S. has the dollar, the U.K. has the Great British Pound and South Africa has the Rand. The currency’s name comes from the word ‘Witwatersrand’ which is a ridge where SA got its riches; This area of the country produced the most gold, which stamped SA’s place on the map and led to a flurry of international investments and visitors. The Rand is comparatively weak to the economic super currencies, mentioned earlier. If the exchange rate isn’t incentive enough to come to South Africa, then I don’t know what is!

#3 We Should Be Known as ‘Smiley South Africans

Two Smiley South African Students
I’ve only come to appreciate this aspect of South Africa when I leave the country and then return. Upon my return, I am always greeted with the biggest, broadest and most teeth-filled smile I have ever seen...granted I haven’t travelled to that many different countries. But, if you ever come to SA, you’ll see exactly what I mean about these special South African smiles.

On the other hand, if you’d like to try a ‘smiley’ you'd be entering into a whole other territory; A ‘Smiley’ in SA refers to a roasted sheep’s head, a delicacy on local streets… but I won’t get too much into that now for the sake of the less sensitized. I’ll just leave that one to your imagination...or a Google search.

#4 We Don’t Ride Lions to School

I mean can we just take a moment to imagine mounting the kings of the jungle and galloping gracefully or charging aggressively towards the gates of a school. It’s imaginable, hilarious but imaginable and extremely far fetched. All my life, I’ve driven to school on four wheels. At firs, it was my dad’s massive, dented and worse for wear truck, and then a white limousine-like Chrysler which eventually got traded in for a Honda Jazz- white again.

#5 We Land on Tarmac (and Yes, We Have McDonalds and Even Burger King)

I’m only including these ones because I’ve been asked them. Otherwise, I'd think it would be obvious. But, I’ll leave nothing to chance. When landing at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg's main airport, we do in fact put wheels to the tarmac. If you ventured out of the airport, you’d find McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks and Burger King among every other franchise that you’d find anywhere else in the world.

#6 All skin tones can be found in South Africa.

My country isn’t known at the ‘rainbow nation’ for no reason. We truly boast every skin tone under the sun- from the lightest to the darkest and every shade in between. 

#7 Our President Left School in 3rd Grade

“Stay in school, kids, and you could be president one day” doesn’t quite apply to South Africa. Our president doesn’t have any formal school learning under his belt. You could blame his Apartheid-forced circumstances. However, to become the leader of a whole country, with minimal or non-existent schooling is a feat for sure- despite circumstances.

#8 We Don’t Barbeque, We Braai

Simon's Town, near Cape Town
Anywhere else in the world, on a Saturday afternoon, you and a few friends may gather around some meat slowly sizzling above some charcoal whilst downing a beer or two. In most places that would be called a barbecue. Not in South Africa. Here, we'd call that a braai.

#9 Most Fossil Diversity Ever Found

Anthropology and palaeontology are two terms synonymous with South Africa. SA is also known as the 'Cradle of Humankind' and for a very good reason. Humankind is said to have its origin right here, in Africa. The richest fossil finds have been in Maropeng and Sterkfontein, South Africa. I guess that makes you African, too?

#10 If You Came Here, You’d Want to Come Back

Boulder's Beach, near Cape Town
 Despite the country’s quirks, clogs and malfunctioning gears, we’re not too shabby. But then again, I am biased. As much as I ‘rag’ and sometimes ‘rip’ on my country, there’s so much to brag about, too! My final wish is that you get to one day experience it for yourself. I have no doubt that one taste of South Africa will want you yearning for more.

You’ve learnt Zulu, you’ve got the currency at hand and you know that we have McDonalds and tarmac to land on, along with water and electricity. I think this can only mean one thing; You’re ready to jump on a plane and visit Sunny South Africa for a braai!

What do you wish people knew about your country?
Till next time-



  1. Wow, it's incredible that South Africa has 11 official languages.

    Her Hive

    1. Crazy right!

      I wonder what the global average is.

      Thanks, Izabela!

  2. This was so fun to read! I love reading about other countries and cultures. My parents went to South Africa like a month ago and they loved it. It is definitely a country I want to go.

    What I want people to know about Chile? That we are an actual country hahaha. So many times I had to talk about my country as the long territory next to Argentina hahaha.

    xx, Melissa

    1. I'm so glad you liked it, Melissa!
      That's amazing! Where in SA did they go?

      Haha, people need to study more geography! I\You can rest assured that I've heard of Chile many times before.

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  3. I truly agree when you said that misconceptions about Africa (and even other places) are because of ignorance and lack of exposure. I honestly misconceived SA. Whenever I hear the place, I can imagine poor and powerless people in a dessert-like place. This is actually what I had read in most books.
    But, thank you for sharing this. Now my misconceptions are corrected :) Nice post Steph!


    1. Ignorance and lack of exposure have to be the main reasons; Glad you agree!

      Those are the exact stereotypes that I'd like to break down. People are poor and some places don't have power, but it's not ALL like that.

      Glad I could change your mind.

      You should do a post on misconceptions about the Philippines!

  4. I'm aware of the misconceptions of Africa as I hear some people say the most ridiculous things due to ignorance. I didn't know these facts and I'm glad you shared them because it taught me new things! 11 languages is so cool and your president leaving school in third grade is interesting!


    1. Our president leaving 3rd grade isn't a success story, like you may be imagining. He's wrecked SA's economy.

      Glad I could teach you more things about SA.

      As always, I appreciate you stopping by, Katherine!

  5. That was so interesting to read! It's incredible that South Africa has 11 official languages!

    1. It's crazy, right!

      Somehow, we all manage to communicate just fine.

      Thanks, Jolly Girl!

  6. Wow, great facts! I learnt so much, thank you!!
    Have a lovely day :)
    Rosanna x
    Rose's Rooftop

    1. Glad I could teach you more, Rosanna!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. There are so many similar misconceptions regarding India too! And I also pretty much have a love-hate relationship because of Indian politics!


    1. I have no doubt that there are misconceptions towards India.

      I don't know much about Indian politics... I should maybe look into that.

  8. I loved to read these facts about your country! I really enjoy learing from other countries!
    This lasts days I've been doing a course where most students are foreigners and I assault them with a lot of questions about their countries, and I have to admit that, at least in Spain, we have a lot of stereotypes about Africa, maybe in the case of your country not (I used to think that is one of the richests) but for the others, we think that they are mostly people who live in the savannah between lions and elephants and they don't know what is a telephone, and my classmates has told me that they are not all like this.
    Also, another girl told us that she has been to your country and immediately I thought on you, she said that she felt amazed!
    I really want to visit South Africa!

    P.S. Answering your last question: I really wish that people could see that Spain is not just "sol y playa" (sun and beach) and party all night and day (there are a lot of problems beacuse some tourists have bad behavour in touristical places and the neighboors are tired), there are different things to see and do here!

    1. I'm sure the whole world has misconception about Africa- it's not just Spain.
      There are no elephants and lions roaming in the wild like you thought.

      You should visit SA at least once in your life. There's so much to see.

      Thanks for teaching me some Spanish. I have no doubt that Spain is more than 'sol y playa'.

      Thanks for the lovely comment, C!

  9. I just learned SO much about South Africa. I had no idea there are 11 differently languages. And apparently penguins hang out on the beach?! So cool. This is a really great post!

    One thing I would want people to know about America... there's really not one way to describe an "American". Lifestyle, fashion, trends, etc. really depend on what state and city you live in.

    Love the post!



    1. How crazy!
      Haha nope, they don't hang out on all the beaches. This particular beach is called 'Boulder's Beach'. It's famous for penguins.

      I like that. America is so diverse surely putting people into one or few categories is unmanageable.

      Thanks Bobbi!

  10. Great post! I visited South Africa last August and fell in love! It's such a beautiful country in so many ways. I am determined to visit again in the future.

    1. I'm sure you still have so much to see, which means you HAVE to go back sometime!

      Thank you, Caroline!

  11. Great post dear, it's great to learn more about the country, I enjoyed the post. I'm excited to be coming to South Africa, Cape Town to be precise in August.


    1. OOOHHHH!
      I went to Cape Town for the first time in May (better late than never, right?)

      You're going to have an AMAZING time!
      I'd love to hear all about it when you get back.

  12. I absolutely loved this post SO much. It was so lovely to hear all of these nice things about South Africa! I definitely would love to visit some day. It sounds like a really wonderful place. This was a really, really, really lovely post. It made me smile so much.


    1. What a lovely comment, Kitty! I'm so glad this post put a smile on your face.
      You have to visit-it's definitely worth the trek!


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