Monday, December 08, 2003

Sometimes people's naivety with regards Africa just astounds me. I recently came across a blog by a guy working for the Christian Science Monitor in Johannesburg. Now, for those who don't know, the Chrisitan Science Monitor is in fact a fairly respectable paper and so, when I discovered the blog, I was pretty excited. Blogging by a professional foreign journalist working in SA - had to be good. Instead I got this:

"We've been in South Africa for more than a week now, and it's a bit less "exotic" than I expected. In fact, at least once a day my wife, Jen, and I say, "This could be L.A.!" With its 6-lane highways, mega-malls, palm trees, and sun-drenched days, "Joburg" is far more sophisticated and functional than I figured. It's a lot like Los Angeles, and a lot like America - at least on the surface.

For instance, in a big testament to globalization's spread - and the universality of teenage rituals - a Joburg mall was bustling with teens on a Friday night. Throngs of spikey-haired boys and midriff-baring girls were all eyeing each other. The movies, meanwhile, were straight from Hollywood - and only slightly out of date: Pirates of the Caribbean, American Wedding, etc.

But there definitely are differences. In fact, an American friend said to us on our first day: "It seems a lot like the US, but every day you'll find out more about how it's not."

For one thing, we hear Khosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, English, and some of South Africa's 7 other official languages. And instead of "Hi" people here say, "Howzit?" - as in "How's it going?"


I don't know what irritates me more about the post, the fact that the guy expresses surprise that Jo'burg has 6 lane highways, 'just like LA', the fact that it's, 'more sophisticated and functional' than he was expecting it to be or, perhaps this, the clincher, when listing ways in which SA differs from America, he says, 'for one thing, we hear Khosa, Zulu, Afrikaans, English, and some of South Africa's 7 other official languages. And instead of "Hi" people here say, "Howzit?" - as in "How's it going?"

Really, they don't say 'Hi', wow, that is different.

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