Saturday, January 17, 2009

South Africa trip, Week 3

I am so behind! Yikes! Okay, let's see, when I left off I said I was going to talk about hair and why I was angry at this dude. I'm going to save hair for later but why was I angry at this dude? Long story short he sees me at the computer (either on 'net or doing my work) and suggested that I go out and do more. He asked where I had been other than Durban and I told him (the short answer) Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town. Then he makes some smart comment about those places being 19th century Europe, "didn't you realize that?" and in the scope of the conversation it was clear that he was saying that he didn't think I was experiencing "the real Africa" or whatever. Now I gave him the short answer, but the list of stuff I've done in S. Africa almost certainly includes stuff he never has done and stuff most visitors to this country never will. I:
-studied Zulu
-had several lectures on various aspects of Zulu culture
-lived in the homes of two (black) S. African families, one in a township outside of Pietermaritzburg and one in a rural area.
-been to Shaka's grave and museum
-went to where Mandela was arrested
-been to a virginity testing/celebration festival
-went to an inter-regional gathering of Shembe followers
-spent a long weekend at a game park
-went to a few art and history museums, malls, marine world, etc.
and other stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting now. So I've done both tourist-y stuff and stuff most tourists don't do. My experiences were similar in Zimbabwe. And how does a city being influenced by white folk not make it African? This is 2008 and this was a colony, so most of the country and most of the world has had some European influence. If he thinks a mixture of elements from Europe invalidates something as really S. African, I wonder what he thinks of himself considering he's colored.


Okay, back to the current trip. I tried to visit my homestay family from the last time I was here last Friday, but they stood me up. I still haven't gotten in touch with them, but it was so odd. They asked me several times when I was coming and I called an hour before I left to say I was going there. But when I got there no one answered the phone (they were supposed to pick me up). I waited for an hour and a half in the rain, my shoes were soaked through, I was hungry, had to pee, and was annoyed by a couple of random men. After a while I just caught a khumbi (shared public transportation) back to Durban.

By the way, one of the men refused to believe I wasn't Zulu. People think I'm Zulu all the time, and I have no problem with that. But this guy just wouldn't believe me. He thought I was "trying to be clever". I told him, in Zulu, that I don't speak Zulu and when he asked what I spoke I told him English. This is common with me here. Because I'm black, they expect that I speak some African language. So he keeps asking me, "no, what's your language?" and I told him English, I'm American. I guess he didn't believe me because I can understand a teeeeensy bit of Zulu and say a few words and once I said them, he was convinced.

It's interesting, this thing. I was in KFC the other day and the servers greeted me in Zulu (everyone always does; they assume I'm Zulu). I can say the greeting back, but then I placed my order in English because Zulu is very awkward for me, can't really do it. But she switches back and forth between English and Zulu with me. I wonder if she also thinks I'm "trying to be clever" or snotty or something. Because some white people came in and I probably know little more Zulu than they do, but the servers spoke to them 100% in English.

This post is getting long, I'm going to break it up and put the next in part 2 for week 3. I'll talk about crime and have a couple of pictures.

1 comment:

Amina said...

girl, they have claimed you!! lol
how was the virginity test?
was it the one with a white blanket? or with an egg?