Missing Mzansi, may memories manifest

I really miss South Africa. I think it's why Lira's CDs dominate what plays in the #vimride these days and why South African gospel dominates what blares out of my Samsung LED TV on Sundays. While in South Africa in May, I learnt a lot about Mzansi. I'd like to share a few thoughts. I also found my South African alter-ego, Siyabonga Andile Mthimkhulu.

From my trip to Khayelitsha, where we visited the Grassroot Soccer initiative, I came to understand how people in South Africa (especially blacks) really support the local football teams. While there, we were all asked which football teams we support and I kept on thinking in my head 'Manchester United'. After most of the volunteers at Grassroot Soccer talked through Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, I had to cheat and say Accra Hearts of Oak in addition to ManUtd. Many black South African play football and enjoy it more while many white South Africans enjoy rugby. Rugby is also a very well funded sport and is played in most high schools simply because whites support it more. The movie Invictus paints a little bit of light on this.

I was intrigued by how shacks in the townships had many things in them. I probably should have learnt this from watching Tsotsi 27 times, but I firmed up these realizations while in Mzansi in May. Folks have microwaves,  TVs in their shacks, together with light, water and many amenities. It's like going to mud huts around Ghana and seeing flat screen TVs in them. Say it ain't so.

I had never realized that coloured people (who we call half-caste or bi-racial elsewhere) are considered as a separate people almost in South Africa. There have been generations of coloured people who consider themselves coloured and not black (as in many places) or white. Belhar is a township near Cape Town where a lot of coloureds live. Interestingly, they seem to be a tribe off their own as well. What language do they speak? English or Afrikaans mostly. It made me wonder if there are coloured Zulus but that question remains unanswered for me. There are some also called the Banana types...yellow on outside and white on the inside.

Cape Town is truly a beautiful city. The Table mountain is called the 8th wonder of the world by many who've been to Cape Town. I really wanted to visit Robben Island but couldn't get the block of time to do so. The weather also wasn't favorable. I got used to riding the Gautrain in Johannesburg, taking it to Pretoria too. Interestingly, Pretoria is an even more racist city which surprised me given that the capital is there and it's close to Johannesburg, a city quiet friendly for blacks. I visited an aunt there and I actually got to see the area where Oscar Pistorius lived. On my way back to Joburg, my wallet got 'nationalized'. Serious business. Thinking about the word nationalized, makes me laugh.

I will never believe the most Indians out of India live in Durban, Kwa-Zulu Natal province until I visit Durban. The home of Shaka Zulu, the hailing of Jacob Zuma, the abode of kwaito music is also the resident place for many Indians? Ayibo. I would like to picture many Indians grooving to house & kwaito music but bhangra and the type of music that DJ Tira and his Afrotainment crew are releasing don't really go together. I just remembered Trevor Noah making a joke out of this in his standup act. I can't believe Trevor Noah actually has gone to perform at Stanford and this happened after I left the Farm. Not lekker. If you listen to him a bit, you could write a blog like this one :-)

Apparently, there are many Jewish people in Cape Town too, I discovered. They mostly live in Seapoint and run many businesses. South Africa is more diverse than I thought. .. where many Jewish live. They run many successful businesses. White Jews at that. In Ghana, you'd be told the Kwahu people are the Jews of Ghana. They are well-to-do too, they even have a Little London (Obo Kwahu).

I feel South Africa, though it is an African country that doesn't do 'Africa kumbaya' like most of Sub-Saharan Africa does, is also our most diverse country. And I am not talking about the presence of white, coloured, Indian and Chinese Africans. I am talking about the diversity of people hailing from different African countries living in Mzansi. Or maybe it's mostly Johannesburg and Cape Town. Well, compared to other major African cities, the diversity stood out for me. When I was in Uganda, I hanged out with Ugandans mostly. Same story for Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria. But in South Africa, a lot of folks I knew living there were from a number of African countries. Yes, Johannesburg is a great destination for young African professionals. But if what we've seen in Jerusalema is anything to go by, Africans from all walks of life throng South Africa. No wonder Ghanaians have to get visas to go to Mzansi. I learnt from a Ghanaian I had met in Jozi that there was a Ghanaian Pentecost church in Joburg. Charles had moved to Johannesburg not long ago to work with ThoughtWorks.

I learnt more about the Limpopo province which I had been hearing about. There is a copper mine there, and it's also place where a lot of fruits n vegetables are grown. You might know about the popular Limpopo song by KCEE. Nigerians used to make hit music for South Africa, now they are learning Mzansi styles and using their lingua. Via Orlando by Dr Malinga and Khona by Mafikizolo were huge hits in Mzansi in May. They are huge hits in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and co now. I just heard the two songs back to back on local radio in Accra. Makes me wish I was going to Mzansi tomorrow. Someone please get me another free ticket. I miss Mzansi and especially one lady I still haven't seen in 5 years, +Phelele Fakudze, the one who introduced me to Mzansi more seriously. When I see her next, it shall be a Joyous Celebration.
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