Human Rights Day in SA

Sanibonani,

Another South African Holiday is coming to a close. March 21st is called Human Rights Day but it is the anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960. One of the ways the government under Apartheid rule maintained power was the use of passbooks which contained identification specific the racial classification.  If someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the police would look at the passbook and depending on the race of the person the office could slap additional charges or worse.

Understandably the people of Sharpeville (in Southern Gauteng Province), became fed up with this arrangement today 56 years ago, between 5,000 and 10,000 people marched to the Sharpeville police station to turn themselves in for mass arrest for not carrying their passbook. The police were not prepared to handle this demonstration and ordered the crowd to disperse. The crowd did not comply and the police fired on the crowd. 69 people were killed and 180 were injured in the Sharpeville Massacre.

Like most days of observance South Africans are encouraged to reflect on their lives today and how it was a vastly different reality from just 20 years ago. For human rights day, they are specifically asked to contemplate their rights. Today there are thankfully no passbooks that are mandated to be on the person constantly, because numerous people fought against the law. Many paid for their beliefs with their lives. The Sharpeville massacre was the final straw for many anti-Apartheid activists and the resistance towards the government ramped up. Sharpevillle is never forgotten and Nelson Mandela made it a point to sign the South African constitution on December 10, 1993 which is the day the Deceleration of Human Rights was signed in the United Nations. The date is observed as human rights day in the world.

 

Today I finished “Cry the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton (highly recommended if you are looking for a thoughtful book recommendation). Paton creatively developed his own characters that shadowed real events in Apartheid South Africa. He was also articulate about the shared internal battles humans face that transcend cross cultures and justice. In the midst of resent events with terrorist attacks and the continued healing process in South Africa, I wanted to share a bit of Paton’s wisdom. Some people may interpret as a disheartening meaning but for me it is inspiring. I was reminded to not let fear get the best of me and engage with people who are different. Also we cannot let prejudice dictate how a country functions, in the end the entire nation will suffer (even those with privilege.)

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.”
Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country   

All the best,

Katey

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When “Going to the Mountain” Does Not Involve S’mores

Blog-Challenge-2016

The final prompt for the Blogging Abroad Boot Camp: My new normal (aka the behaviors we required). One of the biggest PC adages in existence is that service makes you a completely different person. Some PCVs do undergo a personality transformation, yet I cannot say South Africa completely changed me. Hopefully I am less brash and gained bit more tenacity with humility but honestly I feel like the same Katey-Red that left. What South Africa has impacted is my view of the world and patterns of thought. These new perceptions I have obtained applies to serious topics and fascinating cultural interpretations of concepts I was  familiar with in the States.  Like I will never think of camping or mountains in the same manner.

I am a proud mountain girl and regardless of where life leads me, mountains will always symbolize home. Every place I lived (North Carolina does not count as I was a baby) had dramatic conglomerates of rock that pierce the sky. This pattern has continued in South Africa where for the first 5 months of service I lived in the Central Drakensburg foothills and here in my Amajuba site I can see Utrecht’s Balele Mountains on clear days. Anyways, like most mountain appreciators two of my hobbies are hiking and camping. South Africa’s natural beauty happens to be breathtaking.

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I rest my case: South Africa is aesthetically pleasing. Taken on the way to Tugela Falls, March 2013.

As time passed in South Africa, I felt uncomfortable because my communities did not share my enthusiasm. There are black South Africans who enjoy hiking, but the people I usually encounter in outdoor stores like Cape Union Mart are other whites (usually Afrikaaners) There were other signs as well like in May when I hiked in Royal Natal and a prep school class comprised of Indian children from Durban was there but I did not see many Black people. When I wanted to hike the hill that overlooks my site to get a photo of the valley for the Community Needs Assessment, my host cousin just balked.  

Last month I was attending a PCSA training of the trainers and gained an answer for why the lack of enthusiasm exists. I was at breakfast with three PCSA staff (our training manager who I believe is Pedi /Northern Sotho and siSwati and Xitsonga Language teachers) who happened to be men, when the conversation arose about mountains. Then I asked if they shared my admiration for the outdoors and with wide eyes they shook their heads as they started to share their childhood cattle camping trips.

Little boys in the rural areas would join the male adults of the family in herding the cows wherever the bulls wanted. Sometimes the bulls would decide to spend the night on the mountain in spite of Southern African elements that can be lethal. After the training, I related my discussion with Mr. Swazi who laughed and then proceeded to tell me about all the snakes he encountered during those forced hikes in Swaziland. Eish. He may have ruined my hiking plans if I make it to Swaziland.

When typing this, I remembered an additional connotation for South African mountains. “Going to the mountain” is another way to describe boys attending South African initiation schools where circumcision takes place. Unlike the United States where most infant boys are circumcised at birth, many African cultures use circumcision as a rite of passage. These days the events usually take place during the winter school holidays (June-July) and every year initiates experience injuries and some even die during this process. There is a continuous and conscious effort on part of the South African governments to incorporate medical procedures with traditional practices in order to keep these boys safe.

 Surprisingly while other Nguni cultures like the Xhosa practice initiation schools, the amaZulu do not generally participate. King Shaka banned the practice in the 19th century because it put warriors out of commission for months during the recovery time and it has become part of culture to abstain from the practice. However the advent of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) as a reliable method to prevent HIV transmission, the amaZulu King has encouraged VMMC and some teenager boys are opting for the experience in medical facilities. Like most things in South Africa, circumcision is at the heart of a debate of preserving traditional cultural practices or adopting modern practices to address problems.

There are two ways Americans would not usually perceive mountains! Moving forward I will continue to enjoy the local scenery (and maybe attempt hikes) but respect that the amaZulu will not feel the same way.

Side note if anyone was curious about what initiation schools are like, Nelson Mandela vividly describes his Xhosa initiation in “A Long Walk to Freedom.”  Granted things have changed since the early 20th century but Mandela did a beautiful job explaining the cultural significance behind initiation schools.

This concludes the Blogging Abroad Boot Camp Challenge! Thank y’all for the likes, comments, visits, and a special thanks to Blogging Abroad for the opportunity! I now have at least 20 new post ideas and enjoyed exploring other cultures through the other bloggers. Also, Blogging Abroad has an awesome blog directory of Peace Corps Blogs. Please check out the directory and meet more of the stellar bloggers (there are some incredible voices currently in the PCV field) and once the stipend comes in I will update my own directory with a few blogs that encountered through the challenge! Feel free to continue following Eish. My intent is to keep the commentary on South African Life until March/April 2017!

All the best,

Katey-Red

 

One Nation, Under 11 Languages

Blog-Challenge-2016

This entry’s prompt for the blogging abroad challenge: quotes (aka the concise phrases of wisdom from our host cultures). I wanted to have fun with this and put my calligraphic doodling hobby to use! Here is a quote  (with a bit of background) that demonstrates one of the many lessons South Africa can teach the world: linguistic diversity is awesome because it does not compromise cultures but continues their development!

South Africa is unique in many respects from having 3 capitals, 1 country (Lesotho and almost 2 if you want to consider Swaziland) nestled inside its borders, and 11 official languages plus South African Sign Language. Yebo/yes, that 11 is not a typo. The spoken Languages include Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Sepedi (Northern Sotho), Setswana, siSwati, Sotho, isiNdebele, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Xhosa, and finally English.

Here is an example of this linguistic spread using a word PCVs are quite familiar with (note many of the languages are similar and in this case both isiNdebele and isiZulu use ukuthula for the same concept). Trust me, the languages are still different. Last month, I participated in a dozen practice classes (Xitsonga, Ndebele, SiSwati, and Sepedi) for Language and Culture Facilitators (LCFs) at a Peace Corps training!

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“Peace” in the Linguistic order mentioned above. With the exception of Xhosa and Afrikaans, current SA PCVs speak each of these languages!

When people say South Africans speak English, it is misleading in a Peace Corps context. Yebo/yes, we do not aggressively work towards Portuguese or French proficiency in order to swear in (the case in other African posts) but there is a reason why we spend a good portion of PST in language classes. In the rural areas where we serve as PCVs, English is not a guarantee or the most effective way to connect with the communities. Nelson Mandela summarized this in his typical eloquence.

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“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” ~Nelson Mandela

Even if people in the communities are capable of Basic English, I have yet to encounter a South Africa town where understanding the local language is a detriment. Making the effort to learn at least the basics is a small but powerfully gesture to communities where less than two decades ago, strong attempts were made to wipe out their cultures. Participating in their language helps preservation and healing from Apartheid. Plus I love seeing a gogo/granny’s eyes light up when they realize I know a few isiZulu phrases!

Understanding multiple languages is a source of national pride, from the noteworthy 5 languages included in the national anthem to a critical aspect to include on CVs (resumes). This is a completely different attitude than certain loud Americans (apparently unaware of their surroundings) who felt it was acceptable to panic over Spanish being incorporated in schools activities or public signage back in ironically New Mexico (where all major geographic landmarks have either Spanish or Indigenous names).

If these individuals came to South Africa, those tirades over the “Pledge of Allegiance” said in Spanish would seem rather sheepish. Go into any government institution and you will a trilingual display like this:

Tswana and English welcome to PTA

Setswana, English, and Afrikaans, directing visitors to the National Botanical Gardens in Pretoria (aka the City of Tshwane….it is a Setswana area.). This was protecting a fake waterfall with opaque views. The signage worked as no one braved the body of water!

Three languages on government signs and South Africa is still standing.

The Policeman and the Provocative Question

Blog-Challenge-2016

This Entry’s Theme of the Blogging Abroad Boot Camp Challenge: crazy moments (aka 90% of this blog’s content). Just for clarification, the amaZulu and Republic of South Africa are not the crazy parties. I am the crazy one, bumbling around rural KZN to the lighthearted amusement of my communities. South Africa is never boring and it always keeps me on my toes. Every day there is at least one cultural curveball from the Rainbow Nation. These moments come in many forms including conversations where English is a second language for one of the participants, which was the case last Monday…

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Washing day for the cars of Schnitzeland’s SAPS (South African Police Force) office. You can see the distinctive trapezoidal shape of SAPS cars.

Here in Amajuba, a policeman visits my house once a week. It is actually a spontaneous arrangement I am happy with, as at site 1.0 the police did not know I was in the area until our Safety and Security Manager visited due to a sudden escalation of violence in the area. If another PCV supports this organization, I will certainly have a discussion about boundaries and how they with differ with each person. For now, Sargent is very respectful and never enters the house. He always stops by in the early evening on his way home so I can anticipate the brief visit which usually consists of exchanging greetings and I confirming there are no concerns.

Last Monday, our conversation was a bit longer than usual as he indicated there were problems at the schools with feminine hygiene products being stuffed down the toilet. I offered to join him on visit to the schools and see what was going on (because if a policeman lectured me about my menstrual behaviors at age 13 it would have intensified my existing embarrassment). Puberty was not that long ago for me and sensitivity to the mater could move towards a solution with minimal hurt feelings. Anyways he was open to the idea and while plans were made to stay in contact(will keep y’all posted if anything comes out this…I am still trying to understand why the police monitors the female toilets) we joined my host family’s spirited conversation under the rondavel’s shade. 5 minutes goes by and the isiZulu translation part of my brain reached daily capacity. So I zoned out, until Sargent asks me a question that I did not anticipate.

“Simphiwe, do you have AIDS?”

Now there were 3 thoughts that flashed through my mind..

1.) That was a very forward question in a valley where stigma is so prevalent that patients will not openly declare they ae picking up ARV (antiretrovirals) prescriptions, at the local clinic. They will say “pansi/down” gesturing to the HIV ward but never describe the amaphilisi/pills with “HIV” or “ARVs.” Also, World AIDS Day 2015 in Schnitzeland did not feature a single speaker who talked about being HIV positive.

Then the more irrational 2.) Crap. They know about autism (which I keep private at site…post explaining why is coming within the month) and have extrapolated my life experience to the prominent life-threating condition that also starts with the letter “A.” Great.

Finally 3.) Eish, South Africa. How do I respond to this without adding to stigma? I have every reason to believe that I remain HIV negative, but taking the literal interpretation of the question and firmly responding “No” could indicate that HIV is something I consider shameful. Not the accurate let alone productive message I want to portray in the community.

Once I remember that no one could find out about my identity as an autistic as the internet capabilities are limited in my area (let alone I have not divulged any hints), I use my 1-year-in-country knowledge to determine that no one would openly diagnose a community member in South Africa outside of a clinical setting (and Sargent is not a sister/nurse at the clinic). He meant to ask something else and I calmly ask him to please clarify.

“Do you have American Money for HIV/AIDS?”

Turns out a creshe serving orphans and vulnerable children just lost funding and Sargent wanted to know if there were American based options. Still not a fun conversation to have  but a dramatically different request. I tried to explain the confusing situation through a 1 minute summary with basic English. In a sentence, there is limited HIV related funding available in South Africa and organizations in Amajuba do not currently qualify for assistance because we have one of the lowest HIV prevalence rates in the province. Sargent apparently understood, as he responded by saying we should write a letter to Obama. Eish, if only international aid was that simple.

Another day in South Africa with another Eish inducing moment. Life is never boring in the Rainbow Nation.

The Smallest Unit of the “Rainbow Nation”

Blog-Challenge-2016This entry’s prompt for the Blogging Abroad Blog Boot Camp: details (aka the small aspects of life that we tend to overlook). While reflecting on this prompt, I tried to think of the smallest element of amaZulu culture or the vibrant “Rainbow Nation.” Then it hit me: beads.

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Traditionally composed with glass (I have yet to see glass beads used here), products embellished or composed of plastic beads are ubiquitous throughout South Africa. Women are the main participants in beadwork and vendors in urban and rural areas offer a variety of beaded objects from cups, food protectors, embroidered clothing, and traditional costumes. Yet the most common use for beads in South Africa is jewelry. All basic forms of jewelry are produced with beads including brooches, earrings, bracelets, hairbands, traditional headpieces, and necklaces.

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This was made by a Vhavenda woman from Louis Trichart (near the Zimbabwe Border in Northern Limpopo) and sold in Pretoria. This style of  necklace  is found through Limpopo and I have even seen similar necklaces sold in Duke City here in KZN.

 

The amaZulu undeniably excel at beadwork, but most tribal cultures in South Africa incorporate beadwork into their traditional costumes especially the Nguni tribes (language family of isiZulu). My first encounter with South African beadwork was through my amaNdebele host family during PST (Pre-Service Training). My great aunt was a beader in the community and for our Host Family Farewell, she made me a beautiful jewelry set. After the event, I had a chance to thank host aunt in person and she showed me her entire range of beaded items. I was unaware of the adaptability of beads.

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A small sample of my host aunt’s capabilities. Yebo, those are shoes. Women like to wear embroidered sneakers with their traditional short skirts (common in both amaNdebele and amaZulu dress) especially around Heritage Day in September

She also demonstrated how she made bracelets by tightly folding plastic bags (or plastics here in South Africa) until there was a circular band. She would then use thread to bind the design to the base.

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Bracelet made by my amaNdebele host mam. You can see the string wrapped around the base composed of plastics.

 

Necklaces are a different and intricate technique, especially traditional amaZulu collars. Using a combination of knots and bead strands, women develop nets of diamonds. I have seen necklaces long enough reach the shoulders and middle back.

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Example of a diamond pattern bead necklace, made by my amaNdebele great aunt. This design is what I have encountered most often in South Africa.

Another design is embellishing larger beads. At site 1.0 my neighbor’s wife (married to the iduna/local amaZulu branch of chief) made necklaces similar to the one below. She threaded a strand of beads and wrapped it around a large plastic bead. She continued the process until the bead was covered. Once she had enough large beads, the iduna’s wife would bead her pieces into a complete necklace.

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Necklace made with bead embellishing techniques. Made my former amaZulu neighbor in a rural tribal authority.

The meticulous process to make jewelry is not the only incredible aspect of beadwork. Another shocking element is how many beads are involved; a single necklace incorporates at least a 1000 beads. Not only must a beader contain 1000s of beads as they work but they organize the colors into geometric patterns. For a sustainable Income Generating Activity (IGA), they will generate at least several necklaces a month. Taking this to another level, if you look at Ndebele traditional dress I would bet this blanket alone has 10,000 beads.

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A beaded amaNdebele blanket that physically strong women can wear for hours. I was done after five minutes.

 

Combined with the traditional skirt and body rings, a woman could wear over 100,000 beads at once.

In the world of fashion beads are either loved or shunned for precious stones. My time in South Africa has firmly placed me in the bead lover camp for a variety of reasons. Jewelry made out of beads are a lightweight pop of color to daily outfits and travel well. Beadwork is a culturally appropriate way to preserve tradition while ethically supporting a local economy (as opposed to gemstones). Also after a year in country, I learned that beads help me connect with the community and do my job. When I conduct health focus groups with community members, I always wear a beaded necklace or hairband because it helps break the ice. Indirectly, wearing beads acknowledges an appreciation for a dynamic culture that is not reduced to derogatory public health statistics.

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My service in a photo: HIV awareness pin made by my cohort mates’ (awesome married Couple current serving as PCVs near Durban) amaNdebele host gogo from PST.

 

 

People in the Townships Leave the “Harbor” Also!

Eish. It has been a difficult two weeks for my municipality and South Africa. Two Mondays ago, there was a horrific car accident right outside of Schnizteland where 5 learners and 1 teacher were killed. This plus heightened cases of typhoid fever in the country (no one wants to call it an outbreak yet) combined with terrorist attacks that have wacked the public health and international development fields the past few months…I rest my case. I needed slices of humanity.

Then South Africa shared some good in the world. The first school for Autistic children in Soweto opened and my favourite magazine in South Africa (FreshLiving) had a heartwarming feature in their January edition. I tried to find an online version of the article but below is a picture of the story (apologizes for the quality I owe y’all a scanned edition once those capabilities are available). A few notes: “domestic worker” is the South African term of decorum for maid and Gugulethu “our Precious/treasure” is a large township outside of Cape Town.

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All credit goes to the FreshLiving Team for the uplifting story. I am making no profit off of this share, I just wanted to share with others outside of South Africa.

Traveling is viewed as a privilege, an experience that only people with money and education are able to access. This article reinforces how traveling benefits everyone, even those with high school diploma benefit from traveling. When people step outside their comfort zones and learn from other nations, there will be additional cultural understanding in the world. Cultural understanding kills prejudice and as long as people continue to go abroad, people motivated by hate cannot win.

The study abroad coordinator at my alma mater closes her e-mails with this quote:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
—Mark Twain

When Mark Twain wrote his novels, America was in a transition similar to South Africa’s current state. The Civil War fractured society and everyone was trying to piece the American psyche back together with the new perspectives. Now, youth in South Africa want to learn from other cultures and how they incorporate all the identities into one nation. Most South Africans that I talk to dream about traveling the world or seeing their neighboring countries. It is easy to remember how privileged I am and forget about how the community members I serve share my dreams. They also want a fulfilling life, to see the world outside rural KZN and learn as much as possible.

Hopefully we continue to move towards travel as a “human right” as opposed towards a privilege, but granted we have enough development goals to keep us occupied in the meantime.

All the best,
Katey-Red

South Africa: It is Never Boring

Blog-Challenge-2016

One of the questions I receive often as a PCV is “What do you do in an average day?” I am still not sure how the respond to this question. Most people are looking for a 9-5 schedule which is why this week’s prompt (sharing an typical day) for Blogging Abroad’s blog boot camp challenge made me nervous. 

Here is the thing: one year in the country and I do not have a typical day or routine. Yes there are certain tasks I complete everyday (I maintain my hygiene and go to work) but South Africa loves to keep me on my toes and  challenge my perceptions of “schedule” and “efficiency.” My average days are composed of several atypical events. When in rural KwaZulu-Natal, you relinquish control to South Africa’s will. My type A personality is one of my agitation prevention strategies back in the states, and it is accurate to call South Africa great exposure therapy on my end.

Since sharing a 9-5 working day is not accurate, I decided to share a common theme on Eish: outside forces hilariously skewing my attempts to create routine in South Africa.. There has been a dominant theme in my service of animals altering the course of my day from depriving me of sleep, invading my house, and nearly infiltrating the workplace. My first day at the office in Amajuba a goat actually came into the office and chickens strut into my host family’s kitchen once a day. The other category is transport.

I have been asked to participate in a PCSA training this week, and last Monday I made the trip to the Gauteng Province. Getting up to Gauteng is fairly straight forward from my area. There is an expensive Greyhound bus that can take your from Pretoria. Duke City is a transportation hub and has buses that take you directly to Johannesburg. The PCSA office is in Pretoria which is accessible through the Gautrain (the neat pun of a train system for the Gauteng province) which stops in Hatfield (the area with PCSA approved backpackers).

Sunday evening created an unusual start to Monday. I was trying to pack when the local electrician unexpectedly showed up and did not want to wait another week for much needed repairs. Honestly I agreed this was urgent as another bird flew in Friday night and caused a few wires to spark. Still it was two hours of packing time that I could not use, and by the time he finished an Amajuba thunderstorm commenced. I woke up at 3:30 AM to finish packing and cleaning the house (which now had puddles from roof leaks). I left the house at 6:05 AM, running on less than 6 hours of sleep.

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Ready to take on the transport, with enough luggage to help me navigate whatever adventure SA wants to pitch.

The taxi ride to Duke City that morning was uneventful and stopped conveniently in front of the Joberg bound bus. We waited 30 minutes for the bus to fill and after 4 ambiguous stops we made it out of Duke City. I was sitting in the front row with a 3 person seat, with the other 2 seats occupied by 3 children. A woman gently plopped the children down in Duke City, pushed a Tupperware container in the eldest boy’s hands and left. The 2 boys and 1 girl shared my pastime of landscape watching. After eating the entire chicken enclosed in Tupperware, they started to peer over the seats to see the view. The little girl was short and could not see above the seat. I put down my book and offered to have her sit on my lap. She obliged, watched the scenery for 15 minutes and then fell asleep for an hour. I will never get tired of having kids using me as a cot for long bus rides.

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My seat neighbors

Around 8, we stop in a town called Vrede in the middle of the Free State. Vrede was surrounded by aesthetically pleasing green foliage that was overshadowed by the harsh divide between the township and the residential houses with electric fences separated by a mere street.  I was grateful that this stop was only 10 minutes…so I thought. The little girl woke up once we reached Vrede and slid back into the seat.

We pull out of Vrede and chug over the cumbersome hills that define the Free State’s stereotypical geography. 10 minutes after we left Vrede, the bus slows to a crawling pace. For two minutes I watch the attendant sift through an empty cooler and wonder why the bus is going slow. Then I received a hint when liquid suddenly spurts in a mini-geyser with a brown tint and splashes the children in my seat and 2 seated right next to the driver in the face. It takes a second to remember that there is no toilet on the bus so my initial guess of sewage is incorrect. Once the bus gently rolls to a stop, steam started to pour through the geyser, indicating that the engine overheated.

While the drivers tended to the engine, I surveyed my surroundings. I managed to dodge the spray but the children next to me were hit and the girl sitting in front of the engine was covered in water droplets. Thankfully the petrol did not mix with the liquid projectiles and everyone’s eyes were okay. The children are responding to my inquiries saying they are okay even though their skin is embossed with the engine’s wrath. To address their discomfort, I gave Kleenex to my neighbors me and the young girl in front of the engine that was drenched. I moved the little girl back on my lap who wiped a dirt spot off of my leg

Sure enough another bus heading in the opposite direction arrived after 5 minutes and passed a cool drink/soda bottle filled with water, which they poured directly down the engine. We start to move and the attendant calls the bus company. 5 minutes after we started to move the attendant makes an announcement starting with Siyaxolisa/we are sorry. The passengers are up in arms and I cannot hear his one minute so I ask for clarification in isiZulu that we are still going to Jo-berg but we need to go back to Vrede to get another bus. The man confirms, I say Ngiyabonga/thank you calmly and he responds to the bus “See, the mulungu/white person understands what is going on.”

And before anyone applauds my isiZulu skills, on the ride back to Vrede, one of the boys seated next to me is still peering over the seat in the line of fire. I say in English, “I would put your head down if I were you, I am smelling gas.” He complied. The one isiZulu words I know in that sentence are “head” and “down.” Clearly I need to work on my isiZulu vocabulary for potentially dangerous situations and resist my temptation to squawk in English when the situation is urgent.

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Waiting in Vrede for the new bus

 

In the end we waited for 30 minutes back in Vrede and the got us a new bus. The two men who facilitated Vrede’s bus stop saw me (the palest person on the bus) found out I was a foreigner, and thanked me for my patience. They also explained that the engine was leaking and they could not let us head all the way to Joberg. Sometimes safety is not prioritized in South African transport and it is nice to have companies look after their passenger’s well-being. Especially because this was the discount/140 ZAR ride to Joberg.

Morals of the Story: It pays to remain calm and not to panic, I still got to Gauteng in plenty of time, and most importantly….

South Africa is never boring.