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6 Things we've learned in South Africa 🇿🇦

1. South Africa is the Motherland…

… of the entire human race. If you really, really think about it, it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around. Like, we’re literally all coming from that one place. When you’re standing in the Cradle of Humankind, trying to imagine your ancestors have been born there more than 5 million years ago, it’s mind-blowing (luckily, not all of our ancestors have fallen through cracks into deep caves!).

2. The remains of the Apartheid are omnipresent.

Visiting SA as a foreigner with a basic historic education and a somehow reflected view on society, it quickly becomes obvious that segregation is still very much a part of the country. Going around, you notice gated communities which are mostly entered by white people, lower-income jobs such as service and maintenance that are performed by black people. Stopping at a traffic light, the homeless guy who is begging for money or food, is black. And then of course, once you leave inner city limits, you’ll still find hundreds of square kilometres of townships stretched along the highway as if nothing has changed. For us, it created a constant feeling of slight unease.

3. Mandela isn’t everybody’s hero.

Following up on the observation above it also has to be mentioned that - despite what you might have come to believe as an educated foreigner - Nelson Mandela is not everywhere seen as South Africa’s untouchable savior. The perception of Mandela in the eyes of the citizens is best described as ambivalent. Yes, without him there probably wouldn’t have been as much progress and improvement for the black population and he most definitely managed to do so in a very humane and peaceful way. Yet, he too became part of a corrupt system that up until today denies social and political equality to the ones who need it the most.

4. COVID hit hard.

The woman at the border control at Cape Town International Airport was pretty surprised to see our German passports and wouldn’t let us in. By the time we were travelling to South Africa (December 2020), there was a ban for tourists from Europe to enter the country. However, since we had coming from Sudan we were allowed to enter, being the first German tourists, the officer had seen in 7 months!

Another hard truth for South Africans was the alcohol ban that had been going on in various forms for months. There had been times of an entire ban, replaced by the regulation that you could only buy at certain hours - when we arrived, we were 10 minutes late at 5.10 pm for our first bottle of wine after weeks with no alcohol in Sudan. And then, back to no alcohol (except for when your hotel has their own wine cellar) a couple of days before New Year’s.

5. Cape Town has it all.

In contrast to the social challenges mentioned above, Cape Town might just be our dream city in all the other aspects. It simply offers everything we’re looking for: mountains for hiking and biking, the sea for swimming, great culinary experiences (vegan food! specialty coffee! awesome vine!), friendly people…I guess we wouldn’t say no to a job offer in the Mother City!

6. Style isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!

Have we even mentioned the style kings and queens that wander the streets? All the Berlin hipsters can go and educate their selves on the streets of Jozi and the Mother City in terms of style.


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