Thursday, 21 July 2011

Farewell Africa!

Well we're off to Turkey tonight at 10pm so it is farewell to Africa for us (this time!).

What do I take from this experience?

1.  The concept of 'Africa Time':  The pace of life in Botswana and Namibia was a very different experience from our usual hurried, harassed, never-enough-time lifestyle. People move in a languid relaxed slow way and never seem to worry about the time it takes to do anything. Queues move slowly but with no watch-watching, tapping of feet or any sign of frustration at all. What was interesting to me was how quickly we seemed to merge into this pace. I can understand the frustrations associated with getting anything completed, but actually I wonder if we wouldn't benefit from a slower pace and less stress. I'm sure this lack of drive and achievement is labelled laziness or stupidity at times, but it's not either of those, as it seems to permeate everybody and every aspect of the culture.

Note the electric fence  on top of the high brick wall,
 and the guard dogs
2. Security: We really do have it easy in Aus. I understand why South Africans would enjoy living in our fair country. We've spent 4 days living in the posh suburb of Sandton: huge houses with personal security services, boom gates to enter the suburb, guard dogs whih aren't pets, electric fences on huge high walls, barbed wire, spikes  everywhere and so on.  As Erin experienced livivng in the Cape Flats, precautions are necessary and risk-taking very stupid. She said she heard gunshots most nights when she was in Athlone. Once the locals recognised them as Eros School volunteers they did feel safer but never wandered around at night. When you think of the freedom our children have we do take our freedom for granted.

3. Generosity : We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of strangers here.
The families we travelled with could not have been more welcoming and kind to us ( and yes-they weren't axe murderers!). They had very advanced caravans and camping equipment: the kitchens were compact but would have been fine for Masterchef (which is very popular here!). Everyone shared their gourmet delights, photos, and animal adventures with us, for which we will be extremely grateful as it was the experience of a lifetime.
Sonja who drove us over 600kms just because we gave her a couple of litres of diesel was another example. But even when we thought we were stranded in the middle of Botswana we were told: Don't worry: "just stand on the highway and someone will pick you up", And crazy though it seems I think we would have been, bags and all!

4. Apartheid and its legacy: Today we went to a local Shopping Centre and the diversity of people was mind-boggling. In Aus. we consider ourselves to be a multi-racial community but boy, here you have people from all over the African continent, and from every religion.

It seemed to us in Cape Town that all of the lowly jobs were done by black people, but the affirmative action policies here also seem to mean that whites also have difficulty finding employment if they compete for a job. It's very complex and too difficult to comprehend completely. Compared to the last time I was here, when apartheid was in full force, it is so much better for everyone but I guess it will take decades to sort out the legacy of those 40 years.

Anyway I'd better pack my bag and then we're off to the Airport!

your on-the-move correspondent


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