Culture own gas!In South Africa, the service
Culture Interview: South Africa Andre Ebbinkhuysen is the subject of my culture interview. I chose him because I was interested in learning more about the South African culture and its history. We met at McDonalds on South College Road on Friday, June 10th at 11:00 am and interviewed for about an hour. I felt very comfortable interviewing him, as we share a secondary group at Cape Fear Community College, sitting right next to each other in our Sociology class. I feel I know him better than a stranger I would have tried to approach for this interview.
Andre was born in South Africa.He has now been living in the United States for about 11 years. He moved here alone as a professional rugby player, and was offered a job to move and play rugby. His dream ever since he was about six years of age was to move to the United States.
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He wanted this because of the opportunities he would have being in the United States that South Africa did not offer him. He said he would not be where he is today in life had he not moved to the United States. The statuses he holds today include being a full time student, a part time real estate broker and a full time father.He became a citizen of the United States four years ago. Although there were adjustments to living in our society, he very much enjoys living in the United States. The most difficult adjustment for him was learning to drive on the right side of the road.
Other assimilations include learning to work with U. S. currency, understanding the different religions, understanding the “southern accent” along with some of the slang we use, such as “over yonder”, some American cuisines, and last but not least, he had to actually pump his own gas!In South Africa, the service stations would pump your gas for you, in fear you would drive away without paying. The main language he spoke in South Africa was Afrikaans, but it was mandated for them to take English as a second language, which made it easier for him to be able to live in the United States. I asked him about the living standards in South Africa.
He said all of the homes are made of brick. The only ones who had central heat and air were the rich. Mostly everyone has access to clean water resources. The interest rate to buy a home is between 17% to 24%.That is outrageous compared to America today! The taxes are also astronomical compared to the United States. The pay in South Africa is always in salaries, never hourly.
The unemployment rate is around 29%, thus making the crime rate out of control. There is a hijacking approximately every two minutes. There are speed limits, but no one obeys them. This may be the reason car accidents in South Africa are way higher than in the United States. All of the cars in South Africa have a manual transmission (stick shift); there are no automatics. South Africa’s largest sport is rugby.They will have grand festivals before and after each big game.
Instead of baseball, they play cricket. Hunting is also a big sport in South Africa; some of the game they hunt include deer, which are described to be enormous compared to the deer in the United States, rhino, and buffalo. On some highways you will see wild animals strolling down the side and across the roads, including lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. I could not imagine seeing wildlife like that in our everyday surroundings! Lions, leopards and elephant are of course, illegal to hunt.They also celebrate Woodstock, just as we do in the US. The seasons in South Africa are the opposite as they are in the United States.
They do have all four seasons, but at Christmas time, South Africans run around in shorts and bathing suits enjoying the middle of their summer. In South Africa, there was complete racial segregation, also known as apartheid, until 1994. That shocks me that they practiced that for so long. Thanks to Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first elected democratic leader ever, he put an end to racial inequality.Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to multi-racial democracy. His main priority within his presidency was reconciliation and national unity. He remained President of South Africa until 1999.
Andre discussed with me a big part of South Africa’s past history. It was very interesting to learn about the story of the “The Battle of the Blood River”, also known as “Die Slag van Bloedriver”. This battle was fought on December 16th, 1838, between the Voortrekkers (the whites) and the Zulu (non-whites).There were approximately 500 Trekkers positioned at the Ncome River just in front of a hippo pool after seeing a force of approximately 10,000 Zulu men enclosing on them. The Trekkers had guns and cannons; the Zulu only spears.
After about 3,000 Zulu men were killed, they finally retreated. The blood from the dead men than ran through the river gave it its new name; Blood River. Surprisingly, only three of the Trekkers were slightly wounded. Before Mandela became president in 1994, this day was known as The Day of Covenant or The Day of Vow to commemorate the Trekkers victory over the Zulu.Andre referred to this day as “Promise Day”. The white farmers would pray to God to protect them and their crops from the Zulu. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, it is now celebrated as The Day of Reconciliation and national unity.
I always thought of Africa as a whole, not realizing that South Africa was a country in its own. My assumptions of Africa have always been negative, based on what you read in the papers and see on television. All I have ever really seen are the starving people of color in desperate need of housing, nutrition and medical attention. That is not the case in South Africa.Although crime rate is astronomical and jobs are not readily available, they do have the resources of food, clean water and the medical attention they need.
Their celebrations and religious beliefs are very similar to ours in the United States. They celebrate New Year’s just as we do. They celebrate Christmas and Easter as most of us do. They also have a labor day which they refer to as “Workers Day”. They also have an independence day which they refer to as “Freedom Day”, which is the celebration of freedom and the first post-apartheid election held on April 27th, 1994.
Their election day is a public holiday. They also have public holidays such as Human Rights Day, Youth Day and National Women’s Day, to mention a few. Andre has assimilated to our culture very well. It was his dream to live in the United States and have the opportunities we offer that was not available to him in South Africa.
He is very content and happy living in the United States and loves that he is able to raise his son here. He has been here for 11 years and has adapted very well.