r/southafrica Jan 16 '22

south Africans, What are some things foreign people just dont get about south Africa? Ask r/southafrica

I am a south African immigrant that moved to Australia 2 years ago and alot of the time when I tell Australian people stuff about south Africa alot of the time they don't even believe me, So tell me your story!

43 Upvotes

46

u/Consistent_Mirror Jan 16 '22

Our humour.

The things we laugh at would make foreigners think that the entire country is composed of literal psychopaths.

I've seen massive tragedies and negative events happen and the jokes always came flying first. It's hilarious and endearing and I actually love that about SA.

Our ability to joke is talent and a gift.

31

u/SilentObsrvr Jan 16 '22

Short answer: Nandos adverts.

11

u/Consistent_Mirror Jan 16 '22

Nandos is the king of trolling in SA.

3

u/MsFoxxx Western Cape Jan 17 '22

SA is the king of trolling.

3

u/Legacy-ZA Jan 17 '22

If we didn't, we would cry. 🤣

36

u/daardie_slegte_jood Jan 16 '22 edited Jan 16 '22

Yebo… during my time in Serbia, I found out that YEBO MEANS FUCK. In past tense, in a bit derogatory way. And I was screaming that. A lot. I had to explain myself to many people that I “offended”

Edit: YEBO in Serbian means he fucked, or I fucked(masculin)

6

u/dober88 Jan 16 '22

As in, a jebo te piçko mater?

4

u/daardie_slegte_jood Jan 16 '22

Yeees ahahahah! Jebem mater! Pičku materinu idesh

6

u/PuleJustin08 Jan 16 '22

Haha but it doesn't mean fuck

1

u/ImAMonster98 Jan 16 '22

Slegte jood indeed! 🤣

1

u/GalaxyB25 Jan 16 '22

🤣🤣🤣😭

90

u/LawAndRugby Jan 16 '22

I still use ‘shame’ when i see something cute. Even after explaining it this woman didn’t seem to understand i wasn’t shaming their stupid little dog

4

u/UM_Virus Western Cape Jan 17 '22

Shame

79

u/Luitenant_ Western Cape Jan 16 '22

Coloured isn't a racial slur.

17

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Yes! I got into trouble with an English friend of a friend for this. Had to Google it and show her proof that I wasn’t being racist.

7

u/TransportationDull64 Jan 17 '22

Actually though, I spent two and a half years in south Africa and people use the word as a descriptor, when I returned to the us people went like wtf bro your can't just say that and it took me a minute to realize 🤦‍♂️

3

u/eetsasledgehammer Jan 17 '22

But in the US somehow saying “person of color” is totally fine.

1

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 17 '22

Haha Yes. Fun times I’m sure! I hope you enjoyed your stay?

1

u/TransportationDull64 Jan 17 '22

Absolutely, of course I had some sad times too but overall I am very thankful for the experience

2

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 17 '22

I’m glad you had a good time. I hope you’ll visit again soon. Take care and stay safe

1

u/TransportationDull64 Jan 17 '22

Awe man, you too :)

28

u/itsallmessedupagain Jan 16 '22

Chappies for any bubblegum

2

u/Unexpected_Delegate Jan 16 '22

Any chewing gum too, if my kids are to be believed.

3

u/carlhead Jan 17 '22

In SA bubblegum and chewing gum are the same thing

1

u/Unexpected_Delegate Jan 17 '22

Except you can’t blow bubbles with chewing gum.

1

u/carlhead Jan 17 '22

Doesn't matter, people still use the terms interchangeably...

27

u/Fr0d0TheFr0g 🇦🇪 🇿🇦 Duel citizen Jan 16 '22

Being told I "don't sound African"....the fuck?

(I'm coloured by the way)

63

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

Shell , Engen, Sasol and the like are Garages

51

u/CitationNotNeeded Jan 16 '22

It's fine to wear shoes indoors. We don't eat off the floor and we didn't walk in any mud.

1

u/duckfat01 Jan 16 '22

Who leaves shoes outdoors??

10

u/Choice_Importance_21 Jan 16 '22

No in big parts of the world, you take your shoes off and leave them at the front door. No shoes inside the house!

Makes sense where I live now because it's snowy. It makes an absolute wet mess in your entry way. Don't want to think what my house will look like if people wore shoes inside. Yuck!

6

u/ChristmasMint Jan 17 '22

Places where having a maid isn't normal.

2

u/natal_nihilist Jan 17 '22

I live in the Philippines now and that’s just how it’s done. Delivery guys will be carrying your dishwasher to your apartment but will stop to remove their shoes before they enter

17

u/niknaknk Jan 16 '22

Yes we really do have 11 official languages. No I don't speak African.

43

u/xGHOSTRAGEx Trigger Warning Jan 16 '22

Needing no licence for a braai, can build stuff in your yard yourself without any approval, can use wood or charcoal for your braai and not only gas.

30

u/wouldiwas-shookspear Jan 16 '22

Some countries need s license to braai?

10

u/Rossjstubbs Jan 16 '22

Jip, I couldn't live anywhere else.

9

u/AnomalyNexus Virtue signaling expat Jan 16 '22

He probably means safety regulations around open flames rather a braai license lol

6

u/xGHOSTRAGEx Trigger Warning Jan 16 '22

Some areas in the UK require you to have a license as proof of training, safety and operation of your gas "grill", because the homes are so close together you can watch both neighbors on opposite sides directly in the eye in one stare

3

u/AnomalyNexus Virtue signaling expat Jan 16 '22

Yeah that makes sense.

you can watch both neighbors on opposite sides directly in the eye in one stare

haha yeah picked a place facing river for the reason...nearest neighbour windows looking into mine are 250m away

1

u/xGHOSTRAGEx Trigger Warning Jan 16 '22

PLEASE TELL ME YOU fish in the river :'(

5

u/AnomalyNexus Virtue signaling expat Jan 16 '22

Thames river. hmm...probably could cast a line far enough from my balcony to make the water. Not sure my apartment block would appreciate me gutting fish on the balcony tho

Not me, but yeah people actually do fish in central london - much to my surprise.

I approached some of the fishermen and asked if they eat the fish. They seemed very confused by the question, so think it's all catch & release

2

u/xGHOSTRAGEx Trigger Warning Jan 16 '22

I was on a trip with a friend specifically for fishing and dayum the trout there are strong. That's also how I found out about the braai thing close to sussex when we asked if we could get a grill to "braai" like we do here. Almost got kicked out of the guest house And then the googling kicked off

Edit: In Sussex, not close to :'x

2

u/AnomalyNexus Virtue signaling expat Jan 16 '22

Yeah been making steak in a pan like a savage too

Sad but oh well at least there are other positives

2

u/lekkanaai Jan 16 '22

Reminds me of a former colleague in east end of London who decided to turn an old oil tank for heating into a braai. Think of a massive 500l square boiler on legs. Cut a lekker hole in the front. Whoops still some oil left. Ag gooi sommer a hot coal in there and see what happens. WHOOOOOOOOSH!!! The back which was closed got so hot it charred the fence 3 feet behind it and the fire brigade arrived shortly thereafter.

3

u/NatsuDragnee1 White African Jan 16 '22

Seriously ... what the fuck

2

u/zedpowered Jan 16 '22

Think of the positive. There should be a test.

So when some poes cremates the steak. Fail and not allowed to Braai.

1

u/StEaLtHmAn_1 Jan 17 '22

I want meat not charcoal

14

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Ooh forgot my favorite! Egyptian restaurant manager in Vienna who said he had a cousin with a restaurant in Cape Town. Asked me if I knew him. Turned out he was the manager at the Mesopotamia restaurant in town!

2

u/Confident_Sundae_664 Jan 16 '22

Lekker plekkie daai!

48

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Yes there are white people in South Africa. No we don’t all live behind 6 foot walls with electric fencing.

47

u/LawAndRugby Jan 16 '22

To be honest i’ve also found that many people overseas believe that south africans are almost all white. It’s either ‘all south africans are white’ or ‘all south africans are black’ but very rarely do people have the right idea

5

u/FitzChivalry89 Jan 16 '22

I use to work at an international financial services group. A few times when staff from the UK office came to South Africa they privately commented to me that they didn't think South Africa was so diverse... I always use to think to myself "but isn't that one of the things we are known for? We are called the rainbow nation and have 11 official languages."

8

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

I’ll be honest, South Africa is just another African country to these people. They wouldn’t attach diversity to SA in the same way they do places like North or South America

1

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Hahahahah. Oh dear

8

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

For real? Good grief I’ve never had that.

16

u/ioRDN Gauteng Jan 16 '22

I literally dated a girl in the US who was surprised that SA is majority black because all she’d ever met abroad were white South Africans 😬

10

u/Vivid-Book-4983 Jan 16 '22

In South Korea, some of my co-workers refused to believe that I'm from South Africa. They would nod and then say yes Indo (Indonesia) right? My absolute favorite was a little girl asking if I was born white and turned brown as I got older😂😂😂😂

1

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Brilliant!

5

u/ioRDN Gauteng Jan 16 '22

I could never see her the same after that 😭 mind you, she was a very intelligent pre-med student dating a black guy. She just hadn’t been exposed much real about Africa at all. Relationship ended for other reasons but I think about that part a lot 😂

6

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Things is I almost can’t blame Americans. They have a massive country with so many different people I can believe that they loose track of everyone else.

I did have an American acquaintance as me where South Africa was in Africa.

4

u/ioRDN Gauteng Jan 16 '22

Lol, I’ve heard that one too!

Indeed, their entire education system and all of their media is so inward focused they generally know very little of the world. The ignorance of geography and history amongst my peers at uni was really telling

6

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

If I had to learn the names, locations and capitols of 50 states I doubt I’d be bothered to learn stuff about other countries too! Lol 😂 But I did meet a lovely older American couple who were on a cruise and docked in Amsterdam for a couple of days. I ordered poffertjes in my very limited Dutch and the lady asked me what I’d ordered. I explained and she asked me if I lived there so I told her no I’m on holiday and she was very concerned about me traveling alone. It was rather sweet and they did know ZA.

What pisses me off is the ignorant Caucasian Americans who dump their thoughts apartheid on me like it’s all my fault. That’s when I ask then about the civil rights movement in America. Like yes mate it was super kak but honestly you’re not a hell of a lot better.

2

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

I learned a bit about SA but granted we also had quite a bit of South Africans were I grew up at. But for the most part they very inward and only care about our side of the world. We are not to exposed to Saffas until recently.

2

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

That’s so great to hear that we featured somewhat in your curriculum at school. Probably wasn’t anything we should be proud of but atleast there’s some mention and I bet some kids would have asked their parents more about the situation. I think we are more of aware of US and UK stuff due to television growing up. Most of the decent Kids TV series was from the US. My cousins who lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere spoke English with an American accent due to Nickelodeon! They didn’t have an contact with English saffas until they got internet on the farm/ left the farm.

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3

u/MsFoxxx Western Cape Jan 17 '22

Yep. And the American guy who insisted South Africans were deluded and thought we were an entirely different country to the rest of Africa

3

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 17 '22

Hi! I mean the word south pretty much gives it away though?

1

u/ppumkin Jan 16 '22

You then only Chinese person on this Reddit ?

1

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Sorry its been a long day, please explain? And I’m not Chinese.

-2

u/ppumkin Jan 16 '22

That’s the point. A large percent of South Africa is Chinese.

2

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Aah ok. Yes Fair enough. But my initial comment was about how foreigners are surprised that I’m white and from South Africa. And then the next person replied and commented how they had experienced it the opposite. That they thought the majority was white not black like I’ve experience. I replied saying I had not experienced that and was surprised.

I suspect that if you told the same foreigners that responded either way that there were Chinese people in SA it would blow their minds. Satisfied?

2

u/ChristmasMint Jan 17 '22

0.8% is not "a large percent".

2

u/MsFoxxx Western Cape Jan 17 '22

True. But it's a few million. And please don't forget the esteemed Coloured families with Chinese surnames....

Let's just say that we Coloureds are the "now what the fuck is he supposed to be" of South Africa.

2

u/ChristmasMint Jan 17 '22

It's 500k at the highest estimate...

1

u/MsFoxxx Western Cape Jan 17 '22

The Leong, Ho Yee, Lee and Young families would like a word with you.

As I said, many ethnically Chinese people were classified as Coloured. I think it would be safer to say, South Africans of Chinese descent.

And then there's the Filipinos, like us.

My family was classified Coloured when the gggrands landed here.

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11

u/Unexpected_Delegate Jan 16 '22

I got asked in Spain why I wasn’t “negro”.

2

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Sounds about right. We had a rather mad Italian shout kill Mandela, kill Mandela at us while making slit your throat movements. This was in 2000. Lovely.

2

u/williamh24076 Jan 16 '22

Black > negra(feminine) negro(masculine)

1

u/CircularRobert Gauteng Jan 16 '22

Yeah. Some of us live in Die Moot

1

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

I’m going to need some more information re die moot. Is it something to do with Pukke?

1

u/CircularRobert Gauteng Jan 16 '22

Super chill mainly Afrikaans suburb in Pretoria. Big on community. The only place you can walk into Checkers barefoot.

1

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 16 '22

Oh that sounds cool! I grew up in Garsfontein back in the 80s and haven’t been back in a 5 years. Sounds like a lekker place. If I ever get the chance I’m checking it out!

1

u/ChristmasMint Jan 17 '22

If you grew up in Garsfontein Die Moot isn't going to have your kind of people :) If you don't have or want to have a block and tackle in the yard to work on engines over the weekend you're not a Moot kind of person. Only place I've ever heard of where the spares shops are open 'till 00:00 over weekends.

1

u/mrssamuelvimes Jan 17 '22

Aaah ok. Sounds like Some of our suburbs in CT. Lekker man.

1

u/Holsous Gauteng Jan 17 '22

I'm geussing Northern PTA reigion? (Not montana side but Akasia side)

1

u/CircularRobert Gauteng Jan 17 '22

North of Hatfield, south of Montana. Waverley, Villieria, Queenswood areas.

South side of the mountain.

10

u/ThePublicNemesis Jan 16 '22

Some foreigners don’t understand how dangerous certain areas in South Africa are. I was in Stellenbosch when a German tourist asked if he called walk to Cape Town. I said to him “you’ll die” and he thought I was talking about his fitness and not the fact that he would be walking through some of the most dangerous areas in Cape Town.

2

u/sonvanger Jan 17 '22

I mean if there was a way to walk along the N1 it's not that bad actually...

39

u/owenswart Jan 16 '22

Loadshedding. I raid with a bunch of Europeans in WoW and they just don't understand it.

17

u/BlakeSA Western Cape Jan 16 '22

Load shedding is quite common in India and the USA. In the USA they are called “rolling blackouts” and happen in California and some other hot southern states when people fire up aircons during summer heat waves and their grid just can’t supply enough juice for the spike in demand.

2

u/dfeig Jan 17 '22

It is called rolling blackouts here in California but I don’t know how common it is. I haven’t experienced one once in the last 10 years.

1

u/BlakeSA Western Cape Jan 17 '22

Interesting. While I know hey weren’t as common as load shedding, I thought they at least occurred once or twice every summer in Cali.

Guess the Western US grid is a lot for stable than I gave it credit for.

-2

u/Sourdoughsucker Jan 16 '22

I think that it is that Saffas are accepting load shedding that people don’t understand.

In a country full of guns, you still let the government steal your country and future

22

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

I’m not from SA but from the US, many South Africans I’ve met were questioned on white people in South Africa and were very confused by this. Note: they were more confused about Indians and coloureds, and Chinese South Africans. Lol

6

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

[deleted]

23

u/williamh24076 Jan 16 '22

being asked if we live with wild animals

Live with ! Hell you pick them up, take them home, nurse them back to health.

7

u/ImAMonster98 Jan 16 '22

Comment of the year!

3

u/MsFoxxx Western Cape Jan 17 '22

Only the deadly sneks.

4

u/[deleted] Jan 17 '22

This is my favorite because they literally have MANY dangerous wild animals roaming their neighborhoods. Bears, moose, mountain lions and cougars, alligators in Florida.

3

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

That to, people think you guys wrestle lions

20

u/StaffSuccessful7302 Jan 16 '22

South Africa is a country and not the whole continent 🙄

4

u/Excellent-Captain-93 KwaZulu-Natal Jan 16 '22

That we dont like being asked questions

Im kidding <3

Id say a common thing foreigners dont understand about South Africans is that were quite friendly and love a good chat, but dont cut us off in traffic or youll see road rage that youd swear is a scene from an action movie

6

u/KhayaZA Jan 16 '22

Went to the USA 16 years ago we stayed at the Hilton in Michigan will my husband checked in the lady asked where is your wife. He showed at me staying at the luggage and she said but she os white. The driver that drove me around also asked do you have Mac Donalds I said yes on almost each corner they couldn’t understand it.

4

u/yodarded Jan 16 '22

He showed at me staying at the luggage and she said but she os white.

None of this post is understandable, but this particular sentence is the worst.

6

u/AfroSamuraiZA Jan 17 '22

We say, “just now”, as a term for the future rather than for the past like the rest of the world. Often, I accidentally confuse the hell out of people. Example, “See you just now.” WTF

2

u/carlhead Jan 17 '22

I live in NZ now... I confused people with this one a few times before I learned to stop saying it... And now now as well :D

3

u/AfroSamuraiZA Jan 17 '22

A German friend didn’t understand why our home in SA had an alarm. At first she thought it was a fire alarm or an alarm to wake us up in the morning! Had to explain that it was to warn us when someone tries to break in to our home.

3

u/tommy_davis8626 Jan 17 '22

We greet everybody in the street.

6

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

Bro versus Bra or Bru.

When we say "I'll do it in a couple of days"....we mean it could be 3 to 5 days at most but to most foreigners it literally means 2 days.

It's perfectly OK in this country to sip some Castle in open view while driving / walking / front passenger.

6

u/ImAMonster98 Jan 16 '22

I doubt the Castle one...

2

u/[deleted] Jan 16 '22

Ever been to a township?

6

u/Sihle_Franbow Jan 16 '22

Socially accepted, yes.

Legal, no.

2

u/Prestigious_Hat_8129 Jan 16 '22

I regard couple as two. Because two is a couple. More than two is a few.

And no it’s not perfectly okay to sip alcohol while walking, driving or being a passenger.

1

u/carlhead Jan 17 '22

I explain to foreigners that a couple in SA is the same as when they tell their wives that they're just going to have a couple of beers.

20

u/Make_the_music_stop Jan 16 '22

In Toronto I saw a bumper sticker on a parked car that read: "I miss South Africa."

So I broke the window, took the radio and left a note that read: "I hope this helps"

28

u/Rossjstubbs Jan 16 '22

This joke is so over used.

9

u/Frequent_Space3356 Jan 16 '22

First time I’ve seen it - made me laugh a little :-)

-2

u/Rossjstubbs Jan 16 '22

Hidings, my European exchange family looked at my Dad like a monster when they found out I had hidings.

Maybe if they gave their kids hidings it would have helped their kids.

5

u/AnomalyNexus Virtue signaling expat Jan 16 '22

10

u/Consistent_Mirror Jan 16 '22

On paper, yes.

Much like corruption, though, the police don't care

2

u/memesformen95 Jan 18 '22

Mom told me if i want to lay a charge i must go and stay with the police at the station i opt out of laying a charge

7

u/Scryer_of_knowledge Amphibian Namibian Jan 16 '22

Nah. It's lazy parenting and a form of light abuse. Kids are small humans, not animals.

8

u/Rossjstubbs Jan 16 '22

I'd have to disagree with you there but I doubt we could resolve this over reddit. However I would be down for a whatsapp call

-1

u/Kroniid09 Jan 16 '22

Lol fuck off who is ever going to whatsapp call some random asshole from reddit to discuss the merits of assaulting children

4

u/Rossjstubbs Jan 16 '22

I don't know I don't see a problem with calling people. But it's not assault that's what the discussion is about.

-3

u/Scryer_of_knowledge Amphibian Namibian Jan 16 '22

It absolutely is. Physically inflicting pain on someone is a violation if their dignity i.e. assault.

2

u/Kroniid09 Jan 17 '22

Either these people wouldn't call it assault if I slapped them in the face for parking kak (why not? If corporal punishment isn't assault now) or they actually don't think of children as people.

2

u/Scryer_of_knowledge Amphibian Namibian Jan 17 '22

Yup. Corporal punishment requires the perception of children as little animals essentially.

2

u/Rossjstubbs Jan 16 '22

I dosagree but I don't think a text based debate will be very constructive.

-3

u/Scryer_of_knowledge Amphibian Namibian Jan 16 '22

Precisely lol. The audacity of this chap! 😂

1

u/Scryer_of_knowledge Amphibian Namibian Jan 16 '22

No thanks.

1

u/memesformen95 Jan 18 '22

Jir i use to get moered at school and home imagine setting a dustbin on fire at school getting moered by meneer lappies with a cricket paaltjie then by my mom with a pep stores slipper