I wish I could get rid of the way people judge and place labels – i.e: stereotype. This is not about individual stereotypes, but rather country stereotypes. I’ll talk about race and personality stereotypes on another day.
I’m South African so people automatically assume life in SA is a certain way, when 9 times out of 10 they are wrong. To add, I’m Indian, so my some of my fellow South Africans find the need to judge and draw up assumptions of what Indians are like.
I’m not too sure which is worse, the South African stereotypes or the Indian ones? Though, the Indian ones can be pretty offensive and borderline racist actually.
But, today I want to clear up some of the stereotypes in SA,
People Think That South Africans:
Live in huts: people get shacks and huts confused. Huts are the traditional home structures for the Zulu clan and shacks are the informal structures in rural townships – know the difference. Yes, there are still traditional Zulu clans, and these people live in huts but it’s a small percentage and they do not live in the suburbs.
Have elephants for pets and lions roam the streets: it’s so sad that people believe this. What even makes foreigners think this? Possibly those silly American documentaries. I’m not even sure, but no… we do not have random wildlife roaming our streets.
We don’t have proper infrastructure or technology: This is so stupid. I’m not even going to get in to this, but if we can host a soccer world cup, I’m pretty sure we have internet and proper buildings.
That it is full of crime: Yes, there is a lot of crime. There is a lot of very sad and very horrific crime, but that can happen anywhere in the world. I’ve never been affected by crime (touch wood) except that I had my cellphone stolen when I was 15 years old. Not every square inch is dangerous.
That we don’t speak English: there are 11 official languages (sign language included!), but English is wildly spoken followed by Afrikaans and Zulu. My first language is English and I can hold a conversation in Afrikaans (it is like Dutch and I learned it at school) and I know the very, very basics of Zulu.
That we are all one race: why do we call ourselves the rainbow nation then? Obviously, the majority nationality is traditional Africans but there are many whites, Indians, Coloureds and Asians. Did you know, SA has like the most Indians out of India or something? Being South African is a nationality – just like being American, British or Canadian… those are not races.
That we are a poor country: we’re a divided nation when it comes to money. There are very, very, very poor parts of SA… but the same can be said about America, London, India and China.
How do people stereotype your country – and how annoying do you find it? … Or do you not care?
P.S: The top photo is of Olympic 2012 Gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh – SA is proud of our Golden Boy swimmer!