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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : South Africa, one asset: diversity

Before entering South Africa, my prejudices about the country were all coming from what the medias were about to tell.
So for me, South Africa, that was Apartheid, rugby and criminality in Johannesburg (we can see that it is always coming back to the same thing: sensationalism and sport, one is dividing and the other one is federating... to divide better).

After having made my own idea about this country situated in the southern part of the continent by having met the local population, after having seen, lived, South Africa for around 2 months, here is an anti-media and especially a real idea of what this big country inspires me today.

Diversity up to the history

South Africa is very cosmopolitan, which could be his strength by the way. Here, the colour of the skin is supposed to give an idea of the way of living of the people and their believing. We will try to explain it by this way. Indeed, we can find a population of almost 80% black, 9% white, 9% coloured and 2% Indian.
The country had also the nickname of "Rainbow Nation" at the end of the Apartheid in 1994 (even if the official end was in 1991). I find that the flag represents very well this melting-pot of the population with all this different colours.

The south-African flag, witness of a cosmopolitan country

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Either, there are 11 different officials languages (like Zulu, Xhosa or Afrikaans), to try to give equality to each ethnics group.

The south-African history is very difficult and his migration movement was the fruit of many fights and of try to get the power from one ethnic group into another, in an alternated way, which is giving the South Africa of today.

In some words, in 1652, a immigration wave came from Europe and arrived in the Cape Province, after having fled a religious persecution in Europe and funded a community today called Afrikaans. In the next centuries came a British colonization, an Indian community (which was welcomed to collect the sugar cane in the Kwazulu Natal Province), and even a Malaysian community.

The appellation "white community" was used to call association of the Afrikaans and the British.
The "coloured community » is the association between the Malaysian immigrate and the children of the couple with members coming from the "white community" and the "black community" (as you can see, through the time, we can find people who didn't stop at the colour of the skin).
The "Asiatic community" is a mix of Indian and Chinese immigrate.
Then, the "black community" is composed by people coming from the different ethnic group with people having a black skin.

Here it is, you have now an idea, so let's start to try to understand how the life is going in this multi-ethnic country.

Where the Apartheid stops, where it keeps going

The Apartheid, which really end up in 1994, 14 years ago, was a governmental plan to divide the different communities with an aim to minimize the relation between each other.
Quickly, we could say:" The whites with the whites, the blacks with the blacks, etc..."
For somebody like me who had cross Africa by Hitch-Hiking and who has realized that the richness was in the diversity, the Apartheid had an horrible face just by thinking about it.

The difference is fortunately still there today, but unfortunately not always in the good sense.
Indeed, the biggest problem in the country is the difference between rich and poor. In one word, it is HUGE.
The country is the more developed in Africa, there is richness and money.

The developed centre of Pretoria

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Where the rich people are living in the same standards than the one we have in Europe, the poor are crowded in the Townships, where the lifestyle is much more difficult, useless to explain it, a picture will let you imagine.

A township, close to Cape Town

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The townships were for me very far from the mud houses used in the other African countries. The buildings are made with different materials found here and there, which are brought all together. The problem is that, contrary to the mud huts, the shelters in the townships are attracting the cold in winter and the heat in summer.
Indeed the troubles are not only coming from racial origins but also from the difference of belongings.

To get back to a better situation, the government had the brilliant idea to change the victims of the system. He had created what we call the affirmative action. The goal was to create a number of white, black, colored, indian who has to work in each society. Indeed, the job offered will only concerns the people having the right colour of skin. We are not talking anymore about knowleges and skills but about right colour.

For me, this is RED CARD for the government about this action... if the red is all right for you of course!

To give a clue about safety

First, i have been chocked.
Indeed, when i arrived in Johannesburg, the first thing that i have noticed was the money that the people were spending to add more security to their houses, which was making the happiness of the security system company: 3 meters high wall, electrified system or brand new alarm.

The problem seems to come from the lack of reaction of the Police so the governement. If it is a reality that the crime is high, it does mean that the criminals are not afraid about the punishment... or i should say the lack of punishment because they will not be caught ou judged. Nonetheless, the criminality is mainly there in the big cities like Johannesburg and it is easily avoidable if we keep our common sense. There is no paranoia to get.

Medias like to talk about South Africa and to tell that it is the worst country in the world about crime. Well, ladies and gentlemen, i have crossed the unsafiest country in the world... and without any problem, thank you to everyone! Anytime if you want to report that!

Hitch-Hiking in South Africa

I will use as many beautiful words as i can to describe this wonderful experience. Hitch-Hiking in South Africa was without any doubt the country were i have appreciated the most this mean of transport.

Invited for lunch, invited to wander as far as 100 kilometers to admire a lansacape, invited to taste local special food, invited to spend some days with a family... that was my life of everyday as a hitch-hiker in South Africa.
Attention, i have been helped by white people, black, indian and colored because here, colour seems to be so important. There is good intention in everybody, from every races and this is not written on the cover!

Hitch-Hiking is quite famous on the roads of South Africa, especially with the «black community», who is using signs of 2 letters to indicate the wished destination. I decided to exercise myself.
Hitch-Hiking in South Africa, dont forget the signs!

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I also have liked a lot the immatriculation of the province of Eastern Cape which is titling: « Friendly Province of the Eastern Cape ». I give my confirmation.
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His wild beauties

South Africa is a big and beautiful country. We can find the sea, the mountain, the desert and even savana. From his diversity and curiosity, i have discovered that the population of South Africa like to visit his country and to travel inside.
I appreciated his flora from my arrival in Pretoria. We give even the nickname of « Jacaranda City » because this one if full of this wonderful trees with purple flowers.

Pretoria or "Jacaranda City"

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I had anyway my preference for the landscape along the coast. South Africa got two oceans: the Indian Ocean and the AtlanticOcean, which is changing from one to another in the Cape area. Knowing that the two oceans have two very different ecosystems, we have the chance to discover different kind of landscapes.

Here is the wild coast of Hermanus, in the Western Cape Province

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Completely different to the green hills of the Kwazulu Natal, close to Richards Bay
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Without forgetting, of course, the amazing landscape of the Table Mountain in the city of Cape Town (i went far to make this picture!)
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South African people like to live in function of the nature. The sport for example is an important activity in the country of Nelson Mandela.
The main sport of the country are rugby, cricket, bowling or even surf. Many sur competition are organized every year and the main one is for sure in Jeffreys Bay.

Some surfers on the beach of Durban

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Of course, you have heard of the next soccer world cup which will be organized in 2010 in South Africa. Soccer is the sport number 1 in South Africa. This huge event is even boosting the economy of the country and many project have been launched after the announcement of the organation of the competition. We can talk about the « Gautrain », which is a train line between Pretoria and Johannesburg. There are of course many stadium in constrution, below is the one of Cape Town

The future stadium of Cape Town, which will welcome 60000 people for the next Soccer World Cup.

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His advantages, his various culture

When you grow up in a various environment, inhabited with people having different customs and habits, this is opening your mind and creating some tolerance.
Which better country than South Africa to get those qualities?
From the countryside of Natal with his Zulus houses in mud, to the Indian community of Durban, passing by the european vineyards area of the Western Cape, you really can feel the difference of influences.

The green Zulus houses of Kwawulu Natal

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How can you miss the famous Braai, which are the local Barbecue (and you will avoid problems to not say the word Barbecue, this is not the States here :)), with his sausages called Boerewor and his dry meat called Biltong.

The Biltong, the national dried meat

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I really liked South Africa. I have been fascinated by his richness, his diversity and his incredible Melting-Pot. Forget the Apartheid, only the clueless people, stupid and racist make that this kind of situation has been possible one day. We can find this kind of people in every oart of the world. Even me you see.... Yes, i am racist of racists, this my inconvenient.
I see no difference on which concerns the colour of skin. My drivers in South Africa either. Everyone had stopped at least once to help me, wether they were white, black, colored of asiatic.
I make only one difference: if it is an idiot or not and that, i tell you, this is not a matter of colour! 

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I will let you on this last messages to think about, while looking for a boat to South America. That makes already 2 weeks that i am in Cape Town to look for a boat and the research is still not over, but the experience is interesting.

I wish you some very good Christmas and New Year for 2009.

See you soon

Jeremy



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