Wednesday 26 January 2011

Culture? Colour? or Class?

For anyone reading this blog who currently lives in or has lived in South Africa, it would be helpful to know I am from the UK. Welsh by birth, but if you ask me my nationality I will say I’m British and I live in England.
There is a big culture difference between the two countries, although fashions from the high ponytail with the instant face lift to the day glow orange tan. The school run Mums look the same as back home, except for the fact the 4x4s are a necessity, rather than an accessory. Now, OK and Hello magazines line the shelves with Katie Price, Kate Middleton and the Beckham’s, it seems that English celebs are far more in demand here than Travolta’s latest edition to his family.
Inside a shopping mall, one could be anywhere in the world and it is only when driving that the differences of this beautiful country become apparent.
It started raining here at 4am and at midday it has only just stopped, there is local flooding and Peter had to take an alternative route to take the kids to school due to the road being closed.
Now, no matter what class or colour, people deserve to be treated with Respect, and from I’ve seen so far, the people of South Africa have earnt this. Did you read the blog about the train stop at Irene? Where are these people going? They are walking miles, leaving home very early to clean our houses, tidy gardens and work very long and very hard during the day for little pay.
So how do the 4x4, drivers repay them? They drive as normal, through the puddles and floods and without slowing down or moving over, drench these poor folk from head to toe. Peter slowed down, moved over and reduced the spray from his vehicle to nothing. A woman turned round, smiled and thanked him for doing so. The next car driver soaked her through to the skin.
Yesterday the kids and I stopped off for milk shakes, we asked for the bill, as we did so a white man aged 60ish sat down and sharply clapped his hands at the black waiter and demanded ‘a cold drink with ice, make it coke’ The waiter didn’t bat an eye lid and went off to fetch this white mans drink, came back with our bill and apologised for the delay. Alex looked at the customer and said ‘how rude’. We paid and left.
This I believe has nothing to do with cultural differences, I believe it is sheer bloody ignorance. These examples are not from an endless list , but the only 2 cases where I have seen a major divide with class and colour.