A Southern Girl in South Africa

A Southern Girl in South Africa

The Chronicles of a Southern Girl's Adventures of Living, Loving, Learning, and Traveling in Africa

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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

February 19, 2013 2 Comments

October 13 2012 411

Now anyone that knows me knows that I’m no wine aficionado.  But what I am a fan of is a great event with beautiful people, delicious food, and dope music!  And that’s exactly what the Soweto Wine Festival was.

First off, the event was HUGE!  It was wall-to-wall people and beautiful booths to showcase the wine brands and various tourism organizations.   I also met some very cool people too – 2 sisters who work with their sister on her wine brand and a husband and wife team who sell wine.  I love going to a grown and sexy event with a chill, sophisticated vibe.  I’m sure you don’t automatically put wine and South Africa together but South Africa, the 8th largest wine producing country in the world, is the continent’s leader in terms of notoriety and volume.  (source: http://www.heritagelink.com) Check out my post of our visit to some beautiful wineries near Cape Town, SA http://wp.me/p21RUs-9x

Second, the event was so well organized.  Now I know that may not matter to other folks but I’m a stickler for that.  I want the event to flow nicely and I also want good signage telling me where to go and where to park especially when there are a ton of people at an event.  And this festival definitely passed the test!  Check out the slideshow below for a few pictures of this chic event!

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA). Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family. I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!


Meet The Most Amazing Young Entrepreneurs in Africa!

February 10, 2013 2 Comments

Andrew Mupuya, winner of the 2012 Anzisha Prize and me

Andrew Mupuya, winner of the 2012 Anzisha Prize and me

Every now and again, I get an opportunity to meet people who truly inspire me.  These rare people inspire me not only because of what they’ve been able to accomplish in such a short span of time but also because of how they haven’t allowed any circumstances to stop them from realizing their visions.  The latest sources of inspiration for me are the 2012 Anzisha Prize Winners.  The Anzisha Prize is the premier award for African leaders aged 15-20 who have developed and implemented innovative solutions to challenges facing their communities.  I was honored to have been in attendance at the dinner where the winner was crowned.  Finalists from all over Africa travel to South Africa for a weeklong entrepreneurial conference and are collectively awarded $75,000 in cash prizes, as well as access to lifelong mentorship that can be provided by Anzisha Prize’s vast network of individual partners, organizations, and youth leaders.

The finalists are judged on: 1) Impact: applicant’s efforts have a demonstrated, measurable and positive outcome. 2) Ingenuity: applicant takes a new and better approach to a pressing problem in his or her community. 3) Scalability: applicant’s solution has the potential to be replicated in communities facing similar challenges. Even though all of the finalists were a-m-a-z-i-n-g, there was 1 winner, Andrew Mupuya.  Andrew ,20, is from Uganda and he is the founder of YELI, a paper bag production company that produces custom solutions for local hospitals and vendors and employs 14 persons, the oldest of whom is 53.  (source: http://www.anzisha.org).

This young man was not only meeting a critical need in his community but he was also employing other people as well!  Listening to his story and the other finalists’ stories made me wonder what have I been doing all my life!  🙂  All of these young people come from humble beginnings and they reminded me that all things are possible and that it’s important to use what you have/do what you can instead of worrying about what you don’t have/can’t do.   It’s also important to have people around that continue to provide fresh inspiration and push you to the next level.  So who has inspired you lately?

If you want to read more about the other amazing finalists and what they’re doing in their communities, please check them out at http://pt.africanleadershipacademy.org/news/2012-anzisha-prize-finalists-announced.  I know you’ll be just as inspired by them as I was.

This is an annual prize and applications for 2013 are due on April 1 so please spread the word and go to http://www.anzisha.org for more information!

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA). Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.  Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family. I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!

A left is still a left

November 26, 2012 1 Comment

One of the most interesting and nerve-wracking challenges of living abroad is driving on the other side of the road.  I learned how to drive on the “American” side and drove there for all of my life.  One of Fungayi’s friends calls it the “correct” side.  He feels that since an American invented the car, Americans have the authority to determine which side of the road is the correct one.  🙂 Even though I’ve visited many countries where people drive on the”other” side, this is the first time I’ve actually had to do it. And it’s a whole nutha ballgame. 🙂

Learning how to drive on the other side is like being right-handed and then having someone tell you that you have to write with your left hand tomorrow.  It feels unnatural and awkward at first but eventually you get used to it.  Some of the biggest changes are that the gear shift is on the other side (this was easy) and making a right turn where there is no traffic light requires you to look in both directions, not just one (still working on this one). When I first started driving, I felt like there was an angel on each shoulder – one was telling me to drive the “American” way and the other one was telling me to drive the “South African” way.  Thankfully, the voices have quieted down (at least on this topic) but every now and again, I doubt myself in a moment of panic and confusion but I quickly get my head on straight and remember where I am and what I should be doing.  Even though so much is different, a few things remain the same that I take comfort in.  A left is still a left.  And a right is still a right.  You might have to take different things into consideration when you make each one, but the direction is still the same.

I hadn’t realised how driving on the other side affects other activities when you’re driving.  For example, when you go to a drive-in window, you have to enter the drive-thru from the left side of the restaurant and you have to pull into a parking garage on the right side of the car so you can pull a ticket.  It sounds simple enough but it’s hard as heck when you’ve always done it the other way.

Also, other stuff is on the opposite side too. For example, rotating doors rotate from left to right instead of right to left and with an escalator, you go up on the left side and come down on the left side.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the wrong side of the car or gone to the wrong side of the escalator.

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Anywho, I’m getting more and more used to it everyday (thank goodness for all the other drivers and me).  Say a prayer for me and all of them too!  🙂

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA). Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family. I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!

My 12 Favorite Things About Living in South Africa!

October 28, 2012 5 Comments

Today is my South Africanniversary!  I moved here exactly a year ago today and it’s definitely been an adventure! It’s been a year of wonderful highs and some challenges and I’ve definitely grown as a person.  Anytime you step  (or go 8,000 miles) outside of your comfort zone, you’re going to have to learn to deal with change and I’ve tried my best to embrace my new surroundings.  A trick I use when I’m living in a new place is to find things that I love about living there.  So I decided that the best way to reflect on my 1st year here is to share my favorite things about living in South Africa!

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1. Seeing Fung Daddy everyday – We were long distance for waaaay too long so I must say it’s still great to wake up and see him or to hear his key in the door after work.  He was one of my favorite people on the planet before I moved here and thankfully after living with him for a year, he still is.

2. Our Church – My only request before moving here was that we find a church that both of us really like.  And it happened very quickly.  We found a church where the message is great, the vision is wonderful, & the leadership and people are really friendly.  And it’s really close too.

3. Writing for Destiny and Shimmer – One of the highlights of each month is to open the magazines and read my articles.  It’s a dream come true to get a chance to share what I know about haircare with other women.  And it just makes my heart smile when I get readers’ emails and Tweets saying that my tips are helpful!

4. Connection to African languages, culture, and history – African-Americans know that they have genetic ties to Africa but most of us have either never been here or don’t know anything about any of the African cultures.  It’s been very cool to hear South African languages spoken everyday and to learn about the different South African cultures and history.

5. Cape Town – People always talk about how beautiful Cape Town is and they were right!  It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.  It is the only city I’ve ever been to where you can look in one direction to see the ocean and turn your head in the other direction and see mountains.  There’s so much to do there! Check out my posts about our New Year’s Eve trip to Cape Town at http://wp.me/p21RUs-bh.

6. South Africans LOVE America – People can’t comprehend why I would’ve left America to come to South Africa.  Everywhere I go, people play American music and use American phrases.  At least once a day people tell me that they love my accent.  Now, as a southerner who lived most of her southern life in the south, I never heard that.  I think they’re even more fascinated by the fact that I’m a Black American.  Most people here haven’t come in contact with us.   I’ve visited a country (France) where there was a strong anti-American sentiment so it’s wonderful to live in a country where it’s just the opposite.

7.  Low cost of living – Food, drinks, and services are waaay cheaper in SA than in the U.S.  The going day rate for a domestic helper for a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo is $20. That includes cleaning the house and washing/folding/drying/ironing clothes.  Your money just goes so much further here!

8. Full-service gas stations – I can’t remember the last time I saw a full service gas station in a major city in America.  There’s nothing better than pulling into the gas station and knowing you don’t have to get your lazy behind out into the cold of night to pump gas.  The gas station attendants also put air in your tires, wash your windshield, and check your oil.  It’s also great as a woman to know that all the minor things that could go wrong are being checked out on a regular basis.

9.  Avocado and mango – I’m a big avocado fan and this country puts avocado all over everything and I love it!  I was never a big mango fan but now I am.  The mango in this country is the best. I’ve. ever. tasted.

10. Passion fruit and lemonade – This is my favorite drink in SA.  It’s a combination of Rose’s passion fruit juice and Schweppe’s lemonade.  When I’ve visited the U.S.since I moved here, I always miss this drink when I go out to and can’t wait to get back to SA to have it again. 

11. Movie ticket seat reservation – This is a small thing but when you buy a ticket for the movies in SA, you reserve seats too.  So now you don’t have to worry about whether you and your Boo can get seats together.

12. credit card transactions at the table – When you’re at a South African restaurant, the waiter brings the credit card machine to your table and the amount that is debited includes the tip as well.  In America, they take your credit card and complete the transaction at the register and you can’t be sure if your card number has been written down.  SA’s way of doing things is born out of preventing fraud and I like it alot.  Wish the U.S. would adopt the same approach.

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA). Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family. I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!

Russell Simmons comes to Jo’burg!

October 17, 2012 6 Comments

As I shared in my last post (which I know has been a long time ago), I started writing for Destiny Magazine, a monthly women’s lifestyle publication, as a part-time contributor in March 2012. The men’s version of the magazine is called Destiny Man.  Each year, Destiny Man organises a Destiny Man Forum.  They usually have a special guest and this year’s speaker was Russell Simmons.  For those that don’t know Russell Simmons is an American business magnate. He and Rick Rubin founded the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam. Some of the past and present artists on Def Jam are LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, Rihanna, Kanye West, and Jay-Z.  Simmons also created the clothing fashion lines Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Argyleculture, and American Classics. (source: http://www.wikipedia.org)

For this year’s Destiny Man Forum, they decided to host the event in a more intimate setting and they also decided to have the Destiny Man editor, Kojo Baffoe, interview Russell.  First off, the event was packed.  It was wall-to-wall beautiful people and a very chill vibe.  The fact that so many people came out to hear Russell speaks to the impact that America and hip-hop has in South Africa.

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This is the first time I’ve ever heard Russell speak and I was surprised at how deep he is.  His spirituality plays a huge role in his life and he talked about that at length during the interview.  Even though he’s quite deep, he’s also very real and he was willing to talk about some of the lows (e.g. drug use) in his life.  It was nice to hear someone who has so much but the stuff doesn’t “have “him.

I can sum up the night with 2 ideas: 1) life is about giving, not getting and 2) have and execute a great vision for your life.  What Russell (and Khanyi, Managing Director of Ndalo Media, company that owns Destiny and Destiny Man) said really resonated with me because 1) my prayer is that I can be blessed so that I can be a blessing to others just as others have blessed me and 2) I came to South Africa so that I could have the opportunity to do something that no one else has done here.  Hearing Russell and Khanyi speak truly reenergized me and reminded me of  what’s important to me.

I’m going to end this post with my Top 10 most memorable quotes from the evening.

1. Good givers are great getters.

2. When we go up, we do not rise alone. (Khanyi Dhlomo, )

3. I built what I had to in order to get my ideas across.  You don’t want to do what’s already been done. (This is something I should share with all the celebrities that are still coming out with fashion and make-up lines 🙂

4. If you’re thinking about the money when you’re making a record, you’re making a bad record.

5. It’s nice to play with toys but be willing to let them go.

6. No matter how big your house is, you can only sit your a.. in one seat.

7. Business guys are good at managing your business, entrepreneurs have a vision.

8. You can have control over the work but you need to detach from the results. Detach from the fruit.

9. The only thing promised is change.

10. Having alot of stuff will create neediness.  Neediness is the cause of all suffering.

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA). Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family. I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!

A Whole New World…

June 9, 2012 6 Comments

One of the main reasons I moved here (outside of the hubby) was because South Africa in many ways is unchartered territory. It’s the 2012 version of the Wild, Wild West. So many things from a business and entrepreneurial perspective have not been done here. South Africa was a closed country up until 1994 due to apartheid since many countries had economic sanctions against the country. Even though Johannesburg is a 1st world city, South Africa is still a 3rd world country and an emerging market. In the U.S. and other 1st world countries, it is hard to find something that hasn’t already been done ten times over and it’s much harder to break into established markets. Also, there is a talent shortage in South Africa so if you’re educated and willing to work hard, you’ll be able to truly capitalize on career opportunities like never before. I’ll give you a very concrete example of what I mean.

When I first arrived here, I had drinks with a friend from graduate school and during the course of the conversation I expressed my passion for black hair care and my concern about the lack of black hair care knowledge in South Africa. Unbeknownst to me, an editor friend of hers was about to start Shimmer, South Africa’s 1st black hair care magazine. My friend introduced me via email to the editor and we arranged to meet. We had to reschedule the meeting a few times due to the editor’s busy schedule but I was determined to meet her. There’s about 5 black hair care magazines in the U.S. that I can think of so the idea that this is the 1st black hair care magazine was very intriguing and shocking to me. There’s 38 million black people in South Africa so I was really surprised that this was the 1st black hair care magazine.

I arrived at the magazine’s headquarters for the meeting and to my delight, the editor invited some other key members of the editorial team to our meeting. The editor of the magazine is a very well known celebrity in South Africa and she serves as the managing editor for Destiny Magazine, South Africa’s high end business and lifestyle magazine for women (think Essence Magazine). My goal for the meeting was twofold: 1) share my passion for hair and 2) express my interest in working with the magazine. I actually prepared a short presentation to communicate my key beliefs and some common myths about black hair. I believe I was successful because fast forward 3 weeks later and the editor offered me a part-time contributor role to write about black hair from the girl-next-door perspective. Of course, I happily accepted. I write monthly columns for Shimmer and Destiny magazines and a weekly blog entry for Destiny’s website. My first article appeared in last month’s inaugural edition of Shimmer and my first article in Destiny Magazine appeared this month. I’ve also been writing my weekly blog for about 2 months.

I am really excited to be involved with such a respected South African brand and to be writing about something that I truly care deeply about. I’m anxious to see what other opportunities are in store for me here in South Africa. This move has definitely has shown me what can happen when you step out on faith and share your passion with the right people. Now I can’t end this blog post without doing a bit of shameless plugging – If you’re in South Africa, please pick up a copy of Destiny and Shimmer and check out my weekly blog on http://www.destinyconnect.com.

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA). Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family. I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!

It’s hard out here for…

May 9, 2012 7 Comments

an immigrant (a little homage to the 2008 Academy Award winning Three Six Mafia song).  As I’m writing this post, I am actually A Southern Girl in Alabama.  I’m in the U.S. applying for a work permit.  You have to have a work permit in order to be allowed to work and open a bank account in South Africa.   It’s quicker to apply at the A) South African Embassy in the U.S. (6 weeks) vs.  B) at the Embassy in South Africa (6 months) so of course I’ll take Option A for $500 Alex ala Jeopardy! Once again, in all fairness, I have to share the not-so-fun parts of moving to South Africa. I understand that countries want to monitor and manage the foreigners that are living within their borders but for someone who is going through the process, it can be quite daunting.  But before I get into the ins and outs of the process, there’s a few things I need to clear up:

1) Fungayi can’t help me in this process.  Fungayi (despite what his name may imply) is an American citizen – born in Queens, NY and raised 30 minutes outside of New York City.  He is in South Africa on a work permit just like me and he had to go through a similar process as I did to be able to work and live in South Africa.  Being his wife allows me to apply for a spousal permit which would allow me to stay in the country past the 90 day visitor’s visa that all Americans get when they come to South Africa; however, a spousal permit does not allow me to work in South Africa.

2) Even if Fungayi was South African (which he is not, he’s Zimbabwean-American), he still couldn’t help me (at least not in the short term).  We would have to be living in South Africa as a married couple for 5 years before I could apply for permanent residence which would allow me to work anywhere without having a work permit.

3) There’s one other small catch: You have to have a job offer before you can even apply for a general work permit.  South Africa has laws that strongly encourage companies to hire the coloured, black and Indian people that were discriminated against for so long via the apartheid system.  Companies have to prove that they advertised the job and seriously considered hiring someone from the disadvantaged groups.  If the company chooses not to do that, then the company has to show extensive documentation outlining why each of the people from the disadvantaged groups was turned down.  Needless to say, most companies don’t want to go through that hassle so they’d rather not fool with foreigners, especially ones like myself that don’t even have a work permit.

OK, now I’ve cleared that up, let’s move on.   I started this process in Atlanta and it took me several tries to even figure out where to go to get the fingerprints.  I thought you could just walk into a police station and get them done like in Hill Street Blues or Barney Miller.  Negative.  (Yes, I know I’m dating myself by mentioning those shows).  Once I figured out where to go and I arrived there only to find out that the fingerprint center is only open between 9 AM – 2 PM Monday through Friday (those are worse than bank and library hours).  I went back the next day only to find out that you have to have a $20 money order to pay for the fingerprints.  I left and called my husband in a panic fit of rage to find a post office near the fingerprint center.  I went and got the money order and came back a 3rd time and finally got them done.  Now, let me remind you that was only one part of one part of the 15 step process (see below).  But you get my drift, right?   I still had to go to the post office, get another money order for the application and mail the FBI clearance application off.  

This experience has made me think about the entire immigrant debate in the U.S. and how hard we make it for immigrants in the U.S.  I wonder if government officials lived abroad in a less-than-immigrant-friendly country, would they be so tough on immigrants in the U.S. especially in light of the fact that most U.S. citizens are descendants of immigrants? But I  digress…

I won’t bore you with the drama I went through once the SA Embassy actually got my application.  Ok, well I can’t resist one quick example:  You have to mail your passport off with the application which is akin to mailing off your firstborn since you can’t leave the country without it.

The guy from the Embassy calls me: Where is your passport?

Me: You have it. (I am having a mental and physical breakdown at the mere thought that they have lost my passport)

Embassy guy: We do?  Let me look around for it.

Me: OK

He calls me back a few hours later and lets me know he has it.  But all’s well that ends well and I got a 3 year work permit!  Rush hour traffic and taxes here I come!!  Woohoo!!  Seriously speaking, I’m excited about starting my new job and I’m grateful to have gotten a job with a wonderful company despite my foreigner status.

Requirements for Applying for a General Work Permit in South Africa

  • Valid passport with at least two (2) unused (blank) visa pages when presented at the Embassy or Consulate; one page for affixing the visa or permit by the embassy/consulate and the other page for endorsement of entry/departure stamp by the South African Immigration Services. Passport must be valid for 30 more days after the intended return date from South Africa
  • Fees payable to the appropriate South African representative office.
  • Prescribed form BI-84
  • Medical Report BI-811
  • Radiological Report BI-806
  • Police Clearance Certificate from all countries where the applicant resided for 12 months or longer since 18 years.
  • A vaccination certificate, if required;
  • Proof of financial means in the forms of
    • Bank statements
    • Salary advices;
    • Undertaking (commitment) by the South African host;
    • Bursaries (grant awarded as part of a financial assistance package);
    • Medical coverage;
    • Cash available, including credit cards or travelers’ checks to cover
      expenses related to the visit;
    • Deposit
  • Marriage and birth certificate
  • Applicants traveling by air must be in possession of round trip tickets, or proof of sufficient funds or lodge a cash deposit of equivalent value to such a ticket;
  • Statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of visit.
  • An offer of employment;
  • Certification by a chartered accountant detailing the following:
    • Describing the job description;
      • Certifying that the job position falls within a relevant category;
      • Certifying that the position exists and is intended to be filled by such foreigner;
      • Certifying that such foreigner possess the legal qualifications required for the performance of the tasks called for by the job position, taking into account any applicable requirement of the South African Qualification Authority.
      • Commitment by the employer to pay training fee in respect of each employee, amounting to 2% of such foreigner’s taxable remuneration to be paid quarterly and in advance.
      • Certification by the chartered accountant detailing the fact that no South African can fill the post in question.

Part III: Ringing in 2012 in Cape Town!

April 9, 2012

View of Cape Town from Signal Hill

This is the 3rd (and final…I promise) installment of my pictures and videos from my trip to Cape Town!  Make sure you check out Ringing in 2012 in Cape Town Part I (http://wp.me/p21RUs-7m) and Part II (http://wp.me/p21RUs-9x)!

Bo-Kaap Malay area, District 6 Museum, Khayelitsha township and Signal Hill

Fung Daddy and I had the pleasure of visiting some great sites while we were in Cape Town.  Check out the brief descriptions of each site below before you check out the slide show.

Bo-Kaap – The original residents of Bo-Kaap were slaves who were imported to the Cape by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th centuries.  The slaves were brought from Africa, Indonesia, Java Malaysia, and elsewhere in Asia.  They were known as “Cape Malays”, which is a misnomer since most of its residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent.  The slaves were not allowed to wear color or paint their houses; however, as soon as they were freed they painted their houses very bright colors.  Check out the video for pics of the houses!

District 6 and Museum – District 6 was a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans and other laborers until it was declared a white area and 60,ooo people were forcibly removed.  Their houses were flattened and they were displaced to an area called Cape Flats.  The museum commemorates the history of the community up until and after the forced removal.  Visiting District 6 reminded me of the segregation that existed in Alabama when my parents were growing up.  I can’t imagine the impact signs like “For Whites Only” would have on the self-esteem and mindset of a young person.  It’s just unbelievable that people looked down on people merely on the basis of the color of their skin.  It’s sad that this is still happening in our world today.

Khayelitsha township – a well known coloured township in Cape Town.  Yes I said “coloured.”  This is the name used to describe the group of people of mixed race (black South African mixed with some other race).

Signal Hill – a high peak in Cape Town from which you can see Robben Island (Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on this island for 27 years).

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA).  Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy watching the videos and slide show as much as I enjoyed making them!  Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family.  I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!

Part II: Ringing in 2012 in Cape Town!

March 22, 2012

Ok, so I lied.  I thought I could cover the rest of our Cape Town trip in this entry but I can’t.  It’s too much good stuff to slam into one entry but I promise to finish up the trip in Part III.  Before you start reading this entry, make sure you check out Part I: Ringing in 2012 in Cape Town! by clicking on this link (http://wp.me/p21RUs-7m).  You can read the background on Cape Town and what we did during the 1st part of our visit.

Wine Estate tours

I’m sure when people think of wine, they don’t think of South Africa.  I know I didn’t.  Fungayi and I aren’t big wine drinkers but if you go to Cape Town, you have to visit wine country in nearby Stellenbosh or Franshoek.  We chose 2 estates – Delaire Graff and Zevenwacht in Stellenbosh and both were absolutely beautiful.  Now, I’m not an outdoorsy type of chick. Contrary to what people may assume since I’m Southern, I do not enjoy the woods, bugs, or sweating.  Sidenote: Have you noticed in alot of movies set in the South, the people are always sweating profusely?  We do have air conditioning in the south and I am a big fan of it.  But I digress…

The landscape in both of these settings was so picturesque that I had to share as many beautiful moments as I could without going completely overboard.

Just a little info on winemaking in South Africa:  South Africa is Southern Africa’s primary wine market and it’s also the continent’s leader in terms of notoriety and volume. Over 100,000 hectares of land are used for wine production. South Africa produces 3.4% of the world’s wine and serves as the 8th largest wine producing country in the world (source: http://www.heritagelinkbrands.com).

Delaire Graff Wine Estate

Pictures from Zevenwacht Winery and Delaire Graff Wine Estate

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the RSS feed icon at the top of the page next to the Twitter icon or you can follow me on Twitter (@SouthernGirlnSA).  Following me via the RSS feed or Twitter will update you each time I submit a new post.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy watching the videos and slide show as much as I enjoyed making them!  Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family.  I want to share my amazing experience in Africa with as many people as I possibly can!

Part I: Ringing in 2012 in Cape Town!

March 10, 2012 4 Comments

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s March and I’m just now posting about what happened in January but being an unemployed housewife is alot more time consuming than I originally thought.  🙂

After about 10 trips to Johannesburg I finally made my way down to Cape Town and it did not disappoint.  Cape Town is absolutely stunning!  Fungayi surprised me with the trip right after we got back from Seychelles (I’m definitely going to keep him).  Cape Town reminds me of a combination of a small European town, San Francisco with its hilly terrain and Miami with its beautiful beaches and palm trees.  Cape Town is definitely the premiere vacation spot for Sub-Saharan Africa around this time of the year (every black person from Sub-Saharan Africa was there.  It was crazy).  For those that may not have realized it, since South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are the opposite of the United States so it’s summer time here right now.

In terms of how Cape Town is different than Johannesburg, Cape Town is alot less diverse (that’s code for not many black people live there) than Johannesburg in terms of the the people that reside there.  Cape Town’s weather is very unpredictable (rainy/cold/foggy one minute and sunshiney & hot the next) and it’s much more laid back than Johannesburg (think Los Angeles vs. New York).  Apartheid existed all over South Africa and Cape Town was no exception.  We visited a few of the key sites that were made famous during the apartheid era.

Fungayi and I did most of the “touristy” things that folks do when they go to Cape Town

1) ride up the cable car to Table Mountain

2) visit V&A Waterfront

3) double decker bus tour of the city

4) hang out at Camps Bay (the main beach) and Signal Hill (another high point in Cape Town)

5) visit to Khayelitsha township

6) winery tour in Stellenbosch (the Napa Valley of Cape Town)

Unfortunately there were a few things that we did not get to do – visit Robben Island Museum (the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years) and Whale Watching in Hermanus (this is really only in season from July to September and we were there in January).  Robben Island was booked since everyone in Sub-Saharan Africa was in Cape Town for the holidays so book well in advance if you ever decide to visit Cape Town.  These two sites are definitely on my list of places to see and I’ll write about them when I do.

Much like Seychelles, I have soooo many pictures and videos that I want to share with you all that I’m going to break this up into 2 posts.  I’ll cover the first 4 items (Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront, Pics from double decker bus ride, and Camps Bay) above in this post and the last 2 items in the next post.

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Introducing Lira…

February 15, 2012

Music is a huge part of learning and appreciating any culture.  I’ve recently discovered a wonderful South African singer/songwriter named Lira.  She’s released 3 albums (2 of which were multi-platinum albums).  Below is a video of my favorite song of hers entitled “Ixesha” which loosely translates into “don’t waste my time” (gotta love that).  Check it out!

How well do you speak “South African?” Take the Quiz!

February 4, 2012

One of the challenging (and sometimes comical) things about living in a foreign country is that South Africans use different names for things than in the U.S.  For example in South Africa, they refer to the letter “Z” as “Zed.”  Also, South African websites don’t end with “.com”  They end with “.co.za”

Instead of just telling you the differences, I created a quick 10 question quiz to test how well you speak “South African.” Click on the phrase “Take Our Quiz” below to start.  Best of Luck!

Disclaimer: “South African” isn’t really a language.  It’s just different English phrases and words than what we’re accustomed to in the U.S.  If you’re really curious about South Africa’s 11 official languages, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_South_Africa

The S… Movers Say

January 26, 2012 4 Comments

My life summed up into 22 boxes.

I betcha thought I was gonna be dressed in drag as a man doing skits about movers all over Johannesburg, right?  LOL!  I just thought I’d borrow the title since these videos seem to be popping up on YouTube every hour.  I’ve talked about the fun stuff about moving abroad but, in all fairness, I’ve gotta talk about some of the frustrations associated with the move.

When I met with the mover rep in Atlanta, he “implied” that they were going to fly my stuff to South Africa on a PLANE.  And by “implied” I mean he talked about what they would do when they took my stuff to the AIRPORT and how I couldn’t have them pack any liquids since they would be taking my stuff to the AIRPORT.  I even called the mover the night before I left to confirm that I needed to bring my liquids with me in light of the previously discussed AIRPORT rules.  Well from those conversations I assumed they would be sending my stuff via an AIRPLANE.  I know dumb, right?

Rewind, did I mention that I had bought a TON of black hair care products (comprised of alot of liquids) since the products in South Africa aren’t that good?  Yeah, I know that’s crazy, right?  You would think that the blackest place on the planet we call Earth would have great products for black folks but that ain’t the case.  So of the 4 suitcases that I brought with me on the plane ride here, only 1 had clothes and 4 pairs of shoes and the other 3 suitcases were filled with black hair care products.

Well I flew to South Africa in late October and they informed me the day after I arrived here that I was confused.  The code “LCL” (Less than Container Load) on the estimate meant that my stuff would be shipped (as in on a ship) and not a plane to South Africa.  How could I not have known what “LCL” means?  Doesn’t everyone know what that means?  Duh. 

Needless to say, I was a little miffed.  I’m thinking to myself “so let me get this straight.  I have enough black hair care products to last me until the 2nd Coming but only 4 pairs of shoes?”  Did I mention that 2 pairs of the shoes were tennis shoes?  But I got over iteventually.   Yes, I know.  I live a rough life.  My stuff arrived 2 months and 8 days later (but who’s counting?) right after Fungayi and I got back from Seychelles.  THANK YOU LORD!!

Lessons Learned for me:

1. Less is more than enough.  Maybe I don’t need as much stuff as I thought I did.  I survived for those 2 months and 8 days and I did it while being quite cute if I do say so myself with just those 4 pairs of shoes and that one suitcase of clothes.  It’s definitely made me think about purging more stuff.

2. I will not allow unexpected circumstances to influence my emotions.  When I realized it would take 2 months to get my stuff, I was pretty upset because it wasn’t what I expected.  We were also getting daily emails informing us of the expected arrival date of my stuff and my emotions fluctuated as the date changed.  But I quickly learned to just move on.  Life is too short to get upset about stuff.  It’ll get here when it gets here and me being upset was not gonna make that ship get here any faster.  Just enjoy what you have while you have it and don’t worry about the rest.

3. If I ever move abroad again, I will always, always, always clarify with the movers how my belongings are being delivered to me and what every code on that estimate means.  And once I get the estimate, I will make sure that I follow-up with all the affiliates to make sure they’re all on the same page.  Yeah, I know it’s alot of back and forth but take it from me, it’s worth it.  I’ll also make sure I bring enough clothes, shoes, and toiletries to last me for a few months just in case there are any delays.  I realized that part of the issue was that the moving company we hired is based out of South Africa and they work with affiliates in the places where their customers are coming from.  I think there was a communication disconnect between them and the affiliate that they worked with in Atlanta.

Part 2: “Beaches in Africa? I haven’t really heard anyone talk about those…”

January 22, 2012

My last blog entry “Beaches in Africa?” was meant to expose folks to the beauty of Africa’s beaches.  Now I want to share a few  of the other fun things we did and saw while we were in Praslin, Seychelles.  I’ve also mixed in some amazing scenery shots that I took as we were driving through Praslin.  I love seeing and sharing pictures that look like postcards.

A big part of any culture(s) is the music.  As an added bonus, the slide show is set to the music of a very popular African (Senegalease to be exact) singer/songwriter named Youssou N’Dour and the song is called “Africa Calling.”  The song is on a compilation CD that was made to benefit Intrahealth International (www.intrahealth.org), a global organization that partners with governments, NGOs, the private sector, and other organizations to foster policies that empower health workers to better serve communities in need.   Enjoy!

“Beaches in Africa? I haven’t really heard anyone talk about those…”

January 11, 2012 4 Comments

The title of this blog entry is what my brother said to me when I told him that Fungayi and I were heading to the Seychelles for our belated honeymoon/Christmas holiday.  And that’s precisely why I’m doing this blog! 🙂

The Seychelles is a country consisting of a group of islands in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa.  The population is approximately 85,000.  The main island is Mahe but Fungayi and I chose to stay on the smaller island of Praslin which has a population of approximately 6,500. Madagascar is a neighbor of the Seychelles for those of you that love the animated movies.  Most people speak French but many people also speak Creole and English as well.

Have you ever been to a place that was so beautiful that every where you looked and every picture you took was beautiful?  I’ve had the privilege of going to three places like that: St. John’s, a cruise I took in Turkey, and Praslin, Seychelles.  It was so peaceful and gorgeous!  I’ll go on and on so I’ll let the 3 short videos below speak for themselves.  I have alot of pictures and video footage from our vacation so I’m going to break it up into a few blog entries so enjoy and stay tuned…

First Day at Paradise Sun Hotel in Praslin, Seychelles:

Anse Lazio – the most famous (and some say the most beautiful) beach in Praslin

Zimbabwe – the highest point in the Seychelles

Videos of Gumboot Dance and Drumming at Kliptown Youth Program (Soweto)

December 14, 2011 2 Comments

During our tour of Soweto, we visited the Kliptown Youth Program (KYP).  Approximately 70 kids stay at the center (many of the kids’ parents have passed away).  KYP offers many types of programs for the youth including an arts program.  The very popular South African dance that they performed is called a gumboot dance.  Miners used to wear this type of boot to help with flooding in the mines.  They started doing these dances as a form of communication with other miners since they were prohibited from drumming in the mines.  The dance is similar in execution and style to forms of “Stepping” done by African-American fraternities and sororities. (source: wikipedia).

Many African-Americans, like my family, have been in the U.S. for hundreds of years but slaves were not allowed to maintain their languages or customs.  Many African-Americans have no idea what country their ancestors are from and thus we have very little (if any) connection to the country, language, or customs of our ancestors.  As a member of an African-American sorority who has “stepped” before, I must say it was very cool to see that African-Americans have a, albeit small, connection with Africa. Enjoy the videos!

The girls had to represent and get on the 1s and 2s as well.  A quick video of some of the KYP girls drumming.

“March through these streets like Soweto” is a line from a Lauryn Hill song entitled Forgive Them Father from her eponymous 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  I knew Soweto was in Africa but wasn’t sure about its significance in South Africa or the wonderful spirit of the people who lived there.  It was very cool to actually visit the city that Ms. Hill spoke of in her lyrics so many years ago.

I was most inspired by the positivity of the people of Soweto.  It just serves as a shining testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.  The human spirit is stronger than hate.  It’s stronger than racism.  It’s stronger than any type of violence or injustice.

Soweto Fast Facts

1. Soweto’s (stands for “South Western Township”) roots date back to the late 1800’s.  It was originally formed out of several townships that served as the residential area for many South Africans that were evicted by state and city authorities.  Soweto was meant to exist only as a dormitory town for black Africans who worked in white houses, factories, and industries. From 1923 to 1976, its residents were restricted to a limited number of self-employment categories in Soweto itself – operating general shops, butcheries, eating houses, sell milk or vegetables, or hawk goods. The number of each type of enterprise at any time was strictly controlled.

2. Population is approximately 1 million and mostly black.  Soweto is known as a city that influences culture, fashion and music.  Soweto is experiencing a renaissance in that there are several newer middle class neighborhoods; however, it still has some of the poorest parts of Johannesburg.  Many of its citizens live in matchbox houses (4 room houses) or in shanty towns with very little infrastructure such as indoor plumbing, electricity or running water (see pics below).

3. Soweto came to the world’s attention during the Soweto Uprising which occurred on June 16, 1976.  Students protested in response to the government’s decision to introduce Afrikaans (a mostly Dutch-based language and not a traditional South African language) as the language of instruction in schools.  Police opened fire on the student protesters and 13 year-old Hector Pietersen, was one of the first protesters to be shot and killed that day.  The picture of a South African carrying his lifeless body made news headlines around the world (see below).  Many of the young people that protested went into exile and never returned to South Africa.  The Soweto Uprising sparked similar protests throughout South Africa’s urban and rural regions.

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4. Soweto is the only city in the world that can boast that two Nobel Peace Prize winners lived on the same street – Desmond Tutu (1984) and Nelson Mandela (1993)

5.  Soweto is home to the Orlando Power Station, Baragwanath Hospital (reportedly the world’s largest hospital), FNB Stadium (South Africa’s largest stadium) and the annual Soweto Wine Festival which attracts over 7,000 wine aficionados and 100 of South Africa’s finest wineries.

Fun Times in Jo’burg Rush Hour Traffic

December 6, 2011 2 Comments

From time to time, my husband Fungayi will make a guest appearance on my blog.  This is us being our usual silly selves passing the time in traffic.

My chance encounter with Nelson Mandela

December 5, 2011

well sorta… Nelson and me in Nelson Mandela Square in Jo’burg.  This is exactly what I felt like when I saw Shaquille O’neal in a club in Atlanta.  🙂

Johannesburg is a modern, cosmopolitan city.

December 4, 2011

The beautiful Johannesburg skyline

Johannesburg Fast Facts

Population: 3.8 million people (metro area population – 7.1 million).

1 of 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world

16% of South Africa’s GDP (25% of Africa’s GDP)

Why am I telling you all this?  Just to let you know that Johannesburg is a really BIG deal.  🙂

Many people’s fears or reservations about me moving here were because their minds are still filled with images of The Lion King or starvation-ravaged children with distended bellies surrounded by flies.  Although, those may be accurate images for some parts of Africa, they are not the only images for Africa.  As a southerner, I can understand how these outdated images linger since the last images many people have imprinted on their minds about Alabama are attack dogs and fire hoses being released on Civil Rights marchers in the 1960’s.  People change and cities change.   The U.S. and its citizens have evolved (with a few notable exceptions) and so too have the people and cities of Africa.  And just as there are rural and urban parts of the U.S., there are also rural and urban parts of South Africa (and other parts of Africa).  And just to prove it to you, I’ve taken some pictures to show you just how modern and advanced Johannesburg, South Africa is…

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