Thursday, June 13, 2013

My South African alter-ego

This has been a long time coming. I have known a lot about South Africa for a while now, but it took 3 separate trips into the Rainbow Nation to finally introduce my South African alter-ego. I have never had many South African friends like other countries, in fact most of people I've hanged out with in Mzansi have not been from South Africa. South Africa is quite diverse for an African country so it also took a while to establish the diversity that the subject of this blog post would carry.  So after Ayooluwaato Eze from Nigeria, Richard Nshuti Mayanja from Uganda, David Ochieng Mwangi from Kenya, Hamis Ambwene Massawe from Tanzania and Girma Goitom Gemechu, I introduce to you all, Siyabonga Andile Mthimkhulu, my South African alter-ego.

"Ika ma lang Siyabonga" translates to "My name is Siyabonga". For short, just call me Siya. Zulu women are the finest in Mzansi. My mother hails from Durban in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province and was born to a Zulu father and Siswati mother. You must have heard about the famous Shaka Zulu! He's one of the most fearsome warriors ever. I was born to be a warrior too. Siyabonga is a Zulu word which means "Thank You". I was an expectant baby and when I finally entered the world, my family named me accordingly as they thanked Nkosi, which means Lord in Zulu and Xhosa. Did you know eNkosi also means "thanks" in Xhosa? My last name Mthimkhulu is a Xhosa word that means "Big Tree". No, I wasn't conceived under a big tree, neither did the union happen in a shack. I was named as such because it was believed I would be a foundation on which my family would stand, survive and be sustained. I have a very big family. My middle name is Andile which is a Zulu and Xhosa name. It means "to grow, expand, get bigger, and be important". You can tell my parents had very big expectations of me. It's those warrior things. Pressure neh?

My parents were not at the forefront of the apartheid movement so they didn't have to seek exile or stay away from home per say but they did spend many years outside Mzansi. My father always wanted to travel the world, especially African countries, after the stories he had heard of Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Thomas Sankara, Robert Mugabe and Patrice Lumumba. Dada made sure we felt a part of Africa and not look at it as if we weren't. Many South Africans see Africa differently. Can you believe some of my people say things like "They came here from Africa"? Not me. One of the things I love about Jozi is how diverse it is when it comes to African communities. There are many Africans from all walks of life who are in Jozi, whether you are talking of Hillbrow, Soweto, Four Ways, or Sandton. I grew up in Dar Es Salaam, Accra (where I went to high school), the UK and the US. It was always very difficult to find other South African (especially blacks and coloureds) in these places. No wonder my clicking ability is almost non-existent.

Did you just think about Qongqothwane (Click Song)? Then, count yourself as someone who knows South Africa better than many others. Being able to do the clicks gives you extra street cred. We might have to give you a Xhosa name. South Africa
 is the only country with 11 official languages. When I think of many of those languages I can speak fluently, I then regret spending a lot of my childhood and adolescent life outside Mzansi. South Africa is the Rainbow Nation, one of many different types of people and cultures. We have Black, Coloureds, Afrikaaner, Asian, and Indian South Africans. South Africa might be a fragmented but it is a somewhat united and proud nation.

The best singers in the whole world hail from South Africa. It's like we were born singing. Music is simply a part of us. You've seen the likes of the late Miriam Makeba, the late Brenda Fassie, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Hugh Masekela, and Rebecca Malope and now the likes of the Lira, Loyiso, Thandiswa, Zahara and Donald. I would always sing tenor in any choir setting, it seemed to the default group my voice would allow me to be in. From my South African childhood, I can remember a lot of singing. It was a joyous celebration of melodies when we got together for anything. There are many things South Africa exports but I really believe we should look at exporting singers too. China could use some of them. :-) Do not underestimate what good music can do. It kept the many miners who built the Mzansi mining industry to what it is today going. Can't touch on the singing without touching on the dancing. Gumboot dances are a joy to watch. That's who we are, we are joyous, in spite of anything.
South Africa is arguably the most developed country in Africa. Cape Town is pretty much the nicest place to be in and the Table Mountain is like the eighth wonder of the world. We are part of BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - a block of emerging countries. Even places which are poverty stricken have small signs of development. You might see those shacks in the townships, but don't be surprised if you find fridges, microwaves and DSTV in them. DSTV and Supersport is from Mzansi. Terry Pheto and Charlize Theron too. As well as the greatest movie known to man, Tsotsi. Mark Shuttlesworth and Mark Fish and Doctor Khumalo. And how can we forget to mention Nelson Mandela. Arguably one of the greatest men the world has ever seen. The World Cup was held in South Africa in 2010 and the Mzansi Mundial was one of the best tournaments ever.It also gave birth to the idea of BaGhana BaGhana, a pet name given to the Black Stars of Ghana after they flew Africa's flag high after the exit of Bafana Bafana.

We are also serious meat lovers. In fact, I am a carnivore. If you visit South Africa as a vegetarian, you will most likely eat meat during your duration there. Talking about meat? Have you seen our women? They got a lot of meat on them. Beautiful, bodacious and blessed. My mother is a prime example. We have many different types of women. Many top African musicians come to South Africa to shoot music videos so they can have white and Asian women in them. We got many hunks in Mzansi too. Including funny coloured dudes like Trevor Noah. If you wanna learn more about Mzansi, you should watch his stand-up shows like Day Walker and Crazy Normal.

So next time you meet Siyabonga Andile Mthimkhulu, that will be me. I am a businessman who deals in many businesses. I am working hard to reduce my tummy through many types of physical activities while still eating a lot of meat. And I'm not on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I normally use some other guy's profile to see what's following all the Mzansi gossip. You can catch always me here on this blog. That will be all from Siya for now. See ya!
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