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What is South Africa really like?

Travel Forums Africa and The Middle East What is South Africa really like?

1. Posted by Bokkie20 (Budding Member 22 posts) 12y

Bokkie20 has indicated that this thread is about South Africa


I'm looking for people who travelled to SA and specially for the ones who live there.

My boyfriend is South African, but I've never been there myself. I heard many stories (bad and good ones) and I found out, that there r many different opinions about everything (apartheid, violence, nelson mandela, living in SA etc.)

So I wanted to know:

what did u experience? Did u see a difference between the provinces? (my boyfriend is from the Free State)

what is it like to live/travel there (if u r white)?

would u ever go and live there?

What is ur opinion about 'blacks and whites'? (I hate using these words, bec to me skin colour doesn't matter)

I'm thankful for every reply I'll get!


2. Posted by montesse (Budding Member 10 posts) 12y

Hi Kathrin

South Africa is a great country to visit and to travel in. Living here is something way different though. Its not to say that its bad here but its just not good if you know what I mean. Being a young, white South African I can honestly say that some of the changes that happened after the 1994 elections made a change in the way us South Africans looked at each other but alot of bad things came with it. Crime is out of control, farm murders happen every day, rape, reversed racism (called affirmative action), corruption and a general lawless society is what we sit with today in SA.
My opinion about blacks and whites? Well arent we all human? Thats how we are supposed to think about it but in real life it works different. We as young white south africans are concerned that we are being punished for the things that happened before we were even born and that we have basically a limited outlook on the future in terms of jobs etc. This is unfortunate since we have learnt from past world history that changing a bad with another bad aint making a good.
All this said, I think South Africans in general have good hearts and are very welcoming and warm people (all south african races).
The Freestate is great! Wonderful part of the country. Right in the centre of SA and nice and relaxed part of the world.

Hope my reply helped - if you need more info u welcome to send more messages!


3. Posted by mgregory (Budding Member 25 posts) 12y


Could not agree with KD more.

SA and its rainbow mix of people is FABULOUS

I am not born here but LOVE the country and its peoples, warts and all. MOST just great friendly people and have made unthinkable changes in the years I have been here.

Sure we are worried about our often perceived problems, crime is a problem, but remember previously it was not reported to the old police and there is mounting looses of jobs etc as we find our feet in the competative work, but there are bigger ones such as aids which are really important.

You will hear a lot of politics on both sides of the fense, all have an opinion and we are working things out, which many other countries have not done.

The Freestate is and inexpected jewel of an area, often perceived of as being flat & concervative, but I have met many fantastically hepolful people in my travels and they too have changed.
Bloem is a superb City as are the small towns.

GOOD to see a boy from the OFS get out and see the world - hope you enjoy your visit

Enjoy the SA hospitality - then come and tell US YOUR feelings

Mike - Cape town

4. Posted by Yan (Full Member 27 posts) 12y

hullo kathrin

i don't live in SA but i've been to Cape Town several times. each time i've only travelled within the western cape province so i guess what i say here is mainly based on what i saw and experienced in the western cape and CT. i am neither black nor white.

i stayed with a middle class white south african family during my visits. i am not sure if this is the "official" terminology, but i was told that the 3 main races in SA are as such: "whites", "coloureds" and "blacks". most of the family's neighbours were white or coloured families, i didnt see any black neighbours. this seemed to apply to most of the neighbourhoods i visited/drove through. from what i've been told, there are "white" areas and there are "black" areas, and my impression is that the white locals would try to avoid going to the "black" areas if they can. once, we were walking along the pavement in a "black" area, and as we walked past a boy (who was black), he called my companion (who was white) "whitey". my companion found it offensive. i guess you could say that while there are few overt racial clashes, there are subtle undercurrents. but then again, you could say the same for many other multiracial/cultural cities.

i didnt hear the white south africans talk about their black countrymen in a racist manner, but at the same time, it doesnt seem like they mix socially with black south africans. for instance, the family i stayed with had coloured friends, but not black friends. none of them or their friends appeared to socialise with blacks.

some of the white south africans are unhappy because they feel the government are perhaps over-compensating the black population in areas like employment, educations, housing, etc. instead of equal opportunity for all. for instance, i was told SA employers had to meet a certain quota of black and coloured employees, or they would be taxed extra. i don't know if this is true or if it is still in force. but my impression is that many white south africans would rather take their skills and experience to other countries than try to change the system (i guess other factors like corruption come in as well).

having said all that, i think my impressions are likely skewed because i have not interacted or spoken with any black south africans.

i've never been more conscious of crime, or rather, the possibility of crime, then when i was in SA. you've got to make sure your house is safe, got to have burglar bars, insurance, lock all the doors/windows/gates/garage before you sleep, get an burglar alarm system if you can, motion detectors if your car is not parked in the garage, know where to park at night, don't stop your car at a deserted junction even if the lights are red, etc, and generally be very vigilant, especially if you are a lone female.

that aside, CT is a beautiful city, an excellent travel destination. i wouldn't mind living there too if i could! :)

5. Posted by Bokkie20 (Budding Member 22 posts) 12y

Hi again,

Thanks a lot for ur replies, I really appreciate it!

Yes, I've experienced what SA are like and I'm fascinated!

When I was still with my boyfriend in NZ I met many of his SA friends and we also met other SA.

I always enjoyed it, when we had a typical SA barbeque (unfortunately can't spell it anymore, it was something strating with br...), the atmosphere was just so nice and I also enjoyed the SA food a lot(boereworst, k...sisters, melk tart etc.)

I noticed that all SA are very warm people and that the family is very important to them as well as friends and that they always try to help wherever they can.

For me, (somebody from Europe) it was hard to believe what they told me. For one reason I didnt know a lot about South Africa. U sometimes hear things on the news, but as I found out, it's always a very subjective thing. OK, we learned a bit about apartheid in History, but that wasnt a lot.
The other reason was, that I heard so many different opinions and I was very confused.
Two girls I met (they were from Capetown) told me about how great everything is there and about Nelson mandela and everything he has done for them.
I also heard from somebody, that she wanted to go back and live there.

On the other hand I heard that Nelson Mandela and his party didnt do only good things and I met many, many people who left SA because of the violence and circumstances there (unemployment etc.)

So I always thought: how can it be, that some people 'flee' from SA and others just love to be there?

(Moreover if u live in a country like AUT, it is hard to imagine what it must be like in SA)

Racism is a different topic. It happened many times, that people said, SA are racists, specially 'Afrikaaners'.
But it isnt right.
I think it is hard to define what 'a racist' is. Moreover u can never generalize, because u dont know the background of the people and what they've gone through.
If u consider somebody who says one tiny thing against somebody from a different country as a racist, we all would be racist or not?

If u complain about the people from the eastern european countries to take away jobs and cause more problems; about some foreigner, who 'can't drive'; if u make a joke about the 'Germans', the 'Poms', etc. am I a racist then?

OK, I had discussions with my boyfriend, but when he told me his experiences I said to myself: I cant understand, what it is like to be white and live in a city with 5 000 white and 50 000 black people.
I dont know what it is like to be blamed for the past, although I wasnt even born in that time.

I can only say that I (theoretically) know what hatred can cause and that it is not a solution to live 'eye for an eye'.
I mean Austria was involved in the 1st and 2nd world war enough and we just have to look at other states (Irak, Isreal etc.) what is going on there at the moment.

That's why I said to him: I wanna go to SA and get my own opinion. But I dont wanna go there for 2 weeks and see the tourist sides.
I wanna go there and experience it, I wanna know what it's like.

Better go to bed now,
looking forward to getting some more replies...

and thanks again
totsiens ;)

Sorry for answering so late, but my computer wasnt working properly

6. Posted by Yan (Full Member 27 posts) 12y

Kathrin, it's a braai! i especially liked the lamb chops :D the food from a braai has a totally different flavour 'cause they use wood, not charcoal like usual barbecues (what we call usual here, at least)

hatred is a pretty strong word to use. i dont think majority of the white south africans hate their black countrymen. my impression is that they just prefer to avoid each other. perhaps the situation will improve over time.

even in the white community in SA, there are segregations. for instance, the english-speaking segment and the afrikaans-speaking segment are also prejudiced against each other in certain ways. this sort of bias is certainly not unique to SA.

i also thought it was odd that nelson mandela is so well-known and respected internationally, while in SA itself, opinion about him is divided. of course, opinion is always subjective in different situations, but you've also got to give the media some credit :p

7. Posted by Bokkie20 (Budding Member 22 posts) 12y

Yeah, Braai that's what it is called. Often I forget the spelling...
and I mix up words (with oo bec u pronounce them as 'ua' in german), but doesn't matter ;)

I think Charles (my SA boyfriend) will have to do some more afrikaans with me, when I'll be back in NZ :-)

any other experience u can tell me about?

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