Being a South African abroad, I get asked weird questions all the time. In most cases I will answer the questions without insult or sarcasm, but sometimes I feel like some questions shouldn’t be asked at all.
The ignorance and stereotypes regarding Africa is alarming and I find it scary that most of these questions are asked by adults. Firstly, Africa is not a country. Africa is the second largest continent and home to 54 independent countries. Despite international artists announcing “world tours” yet Africa is never on their list. *side eyes Beyoncé*, I’d like to believe we are still part of the world.
1. Do you know Nelson Mandela?
Quite frankly I don’t really know much about him except that he fought against the apartheid regime; he was in jail for 27 years at Robben Island and he became the first black democratically elected President. No, I’ve never met him!
2. Cape Town!
Some guy once asked me if Cape Town is real.
Yes, it’s real. I know it’s beautiful but we have other beautiful cities too.
Related Post: Exploring Cape Town in Winter
3. Do you speak African?
Do you ask people from USA if they speak American? Or do you ask people from Asia, if they speak Asian? Exactly! “African” is not a language. In South African we have 11 officially languages and a majority of the population are multilingual.
Britain kinda colonized many African countries, so guess what? Many of us speak English!
5. I know someone from South Africa who lives in (insert place). Do you know him?
South Africa is not some village or small town. It’s a country with a population of 54 million+; we have 9 provinces. Your friend and I somehow knowing each other would be a miracle!
6. Animals Galore
Lol! I have been asked on so many occasions if I’ve seen a lion. Believe it or not, there are people who live in SA and have never seen wild animals as they are kept in zoo’s or nature reserves. So no, there are no wild animals walking down the street… and yes, we have to pay to see them.
7. What is Africa like?
I honestly never know how to answer this! Like where do I even start…
8. Do you live in huts?
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Many people believe that all African people live in mud and dung huts. This is nonsense! There are buildings and towns and cities in every country in Africa. There are parts of the country where some people live in huts but most places are westernized.
9. My friend gets this all the time: “You’re from South Africa, why are you white?”
South Africa was colonized by the Dutch starting in 1652, and became a major British colony in 1795. There are alot of White, Black, Coloured (mixed race), Indian and Asian people in South Africa, after all we are known as the rainbow nation, and rightly so. African is not a race!
10. What do you eat in South Africa?
First of all, not all food in Africa is strange. We have restaurants where you can order seafood, pizza, pasta, burgers and basically whatever else you can think of. We pretty much eat the same things as everyone else but we so have our special “traditional” meals that we like.
11. I saw Blood Diamond… wow it’s so sad!
firstly, Blood Diamond is actually set in Sierra Leone during the civil war. The story of the film is pure fiction however, the brutality portrayed in the film is accurate but does not depict the daily occurrences in South Africa.
Are you a South African abroad? What’s the weirdest thing anyone has ever asked you