Molweni (which means “hello” to a group of people in Xhosa, one of our official languages)
Firstly, thank you Mohamad, for inviting me to share “My Africa” on your “Around the World Series”. I am honored that you chose me.
I would like to introduce myself; My name is Ally and I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. I did most of my schooling in Zimbabwe. My father was an Engineer and we moved around a lot. I have lived in a total of twelve places from East Africa right down to the southernmost tip of Africa: Cape Town. So I guess that makes me an African of British descent.
I would like to tell you a little bit about South Africa, the beautiful country where I presently live.
You probably know the Father of our nation; Nelson Mandela. He is a hero to all the people of Africa, as well as to the rest of the World.
We have a special day of commemoration on his birthday the 18th ofJuly every year. On that day we devote 67 minutes of our time to public service. People make a small gesture of solidarity with humanity and step towards a global movement for good. His life has been an inspiration to the world! (He also loved to dance!)
There is so much beauty on the continent of Africa and the people are its “heartbeat”. I will only be able to touch on a very little of what it means to live in South Africa. It is a land of incredible contrasts and great diversity; there are deserts, wetlands, bush, subtropical forests, mountains and escarpments.
I live in a small town in the Southern Cape of South Africa. It is a town called Sedgefield and was named after a town in the UK. It boasts a Mosaic Art Route, a farmer’s market, beautiful beaches and indigenous forests.
In 2010 South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. There was an incredible sense of togetherness during that time. Many still coin the phrase “the Rainbow Nation”. (The term “Rainbow Nation” found popular appeal from the moment Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu first used it to capture the multicultural nature of the country).
The sound of the vuvuzelas (a long horn blown by fans at soccer matches) could be heard deep in the heart of our township, right to the capital buildings in the main cities.
There is so much that I could say about South Africa and its beautiful people, instead I will say in the words of Kwame Nkrumah;
“I am not an African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me”.
If you happen to visit South Africa one day, you will be surprised and delighted by the many tourist attractions and warmth of its people.
Then, just to name a few interesting facts:-
Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world.
South Africa has the highest commercial bungi jump in the world at 710 feet.
Despite the country’s status as a democratic republic, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal has a monarchy specially provided for by the constitution. King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu is the King of the Zulu Nation.
Can you think of any other place in the world where two Nobel Peace prize winners lived on the same street? Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.
(VILAKAZI Street in Soweto is well-known for its rich history, particularly for its place in the struggle against apartheid. Given this, it is one of the main tourist attractions in Johannesburg, and the country.)
and a few more interesting facts…..
There are more than 2000 shipwrecks off the South African coast, most dating back at least 500 years.
South Africa has the longest Wine Route in the world, spanning a distance of 850km.
South Africa has eleven official languages.
20% of the world’s gold is mined in South Africa.
The world’s first heart transplant was done in South Africa in 1967 by Dr Chris Barnard.
South Africa hosts the largest cycle race. The 35,000 riders take part in the 109 km Cape Town Cycle tour across the south peninsula.
South Africa houses one of the 3 largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo.
The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent.
The Cango Caves near Oudsthoorn is the world’s longest underground cave sequence.
There are also many sad aspects to South Africa, one of the saddest being the divide between rich and poor. Many poor people live in Shacks and don’t have access to essential amenities.
However there are some Government and non-Government Organizations who have feeding and upliftment programs to eradicate poverty, but much more still needs to be done.
I will leave you with a great quote by our Hero, Madiba;
“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
― Nelson Mandela
I hope you enjoyed learning more about South Africa and that it has inspired you to come and visit us soon!
Enkosi kakhulu! (Thank you very much)