8 THINGS I DON’T MISS ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA

Once upon a time there was a promise not to complain about the weather in Finland. Hence the rain – yesterday, today, tomorrow – is just an observation. Focus on the things you can change.

However, I feel it’s time I remind myself about the things I don’t miss in the place of sun, sea and mountains.

 

8 THINGS I DON’T MISS ABOUT SOUTH AFRICA

In no particular order, a list of things I don’t miss about South Africa:

1. DHA, Telkom, Nedbank, Vodacom, Sanlam…

Even seeing these names makes my blood pressure skyrocket. Bad bad bad vibes.

When a small task becomes a project. In case of DHA and Birth Certificate – a piece of paper one officially gets in 8 weeks – we speak about years. In our case about 3.5 years, and still going strong. Many end up becoming processes with loose ends, for the sake of one’s sanity.

2. Geysers, heaters, electric blankets, moisture absorbers, mouldy walls and ceilings.

Cape Town winter is short (in Finnish terms) but unpleasant. Not that the weather actually is bad but the houses are not built to handle the cold rainy period very well. It was colder (and damper) inside than outside!

3. Unreliable and unprofessional plumbers, electricians, handymen…

you name it. I don’t think once any of these lived up to even close to their promises. From “let’s rip these foreigners off” to dozens of no-show fixers. In the end we learnt to be happy if someone showed up and even partly got the problem fixed. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it got a whole new meaning. [This is also a major reason why South Africans are not investing in anything that can break, unless they absolutely have to. Not that investing in “quality” is any more popular. “Buy cheap, use, throw away, buy new cheap” is what works.]

4. Expensive electricity, absurdly expensive data.

Closely connected to point Nr. 1. State owned monopolies and politically well connected private corporations may work in some societies. South Africa is not one of them.

In case you want to dig deeper, take a look at here. Or google KPMG + Gupta. Or SAP + Gupta. Or McKinsey + Gupta. It’s interesting how international companies with a substantial stake in the global business of aid act outside the western world.

5. Fires, rock and mud slides, floods, potholes.

The kind of natural (or man-made, as often in the case of fire) disasters that kill people, destroy lives and leave you – the outsider privileged one – emotionally drained and stuck with feeling of “this will never end, this will never change, this will soon happen again”.

6. Crime, electric fences, walls, armed responses.

People often asked me, how does it feel living in a cage. True, we were living behind gates and guards and walls. For hikes we packed water and snacks and pepper spray. However, I never felt caged. It was the mental freedom that compensated the limitations with physical freedom.

What did make me sad was the complicated and “unfixable” causes of the situation. Why did I feel I was witnessing a country freed from a brutal system 20+ years ago moving backward?

7. Water. Lack of water. Drought, burst pipes.

After learning there actually is life without electricity (load shedding in 2015) we learnt having a tap doesn’t always mean having water. A burst pipe every now and then was annoying. A burst pipe every day or several days was awful – especially if the burst had happened all sweaty after a run, busy heading to the airport/a meeting/a dinner.

If there only would be a way to miraculously channel all this rain we have to the drought ridden Western Cape now. Alternatively, it would be fun to send all Finnish people on a survival camp with 87 litre fresh water quota per person per day, knowing one flush is about seven litres. I think most wouldn’t survive a day without being severely concerned about health & safety issues.

8. Becoming a racist.

This is hard. Really really hard to admit. When we first moved to South Africa I pretty soon realised I had unconsciously fallen to good blacks, bad racist whites thinking. After reaching a point where I found myself more and more often thinking maybe blacks are lazy after all – it IS a very violent culture – why are *they* just waiting something to happen without any personal effort – I hate that entitlement attitude, it was clearly time to go.

I can’t become a racist, can I? I need to be back where I can judge *them* from a simple not my problem, I have nothing to do with *their* problem point of view, and occasionally donate some euros.

I can’t be a racist. My son – badly westernised and coconuted – is and always will be black. He has the right to be proud of it, and the right to be parented by people who genuinely think about his heritage different for sure, inferior definitely not.

 

 

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