Updated: Jun 12
As the majority of people in Europe, I didn’t know anything about South Africa before my experience there. It sounded like an exotic county, far away and very different from my homeland. Why not trying?
When you explore a destination on holiday, you can’t go so deep into the country to discover it real soul as when you live there for a longer period. This is why my working and studying experiences abroad allow me to have a sharper perspective fo the world.
Thanks to my working experience at Spanish Farm Guest Lodge, a luxury property in the Eastern Cape, I gained a great knowledge of South Africa, its inhabitants, culture and traditions. The beginning was quite hectic: I used to live in a breathtaking place similar to heaven, but I soon realized the importance of the security issue, the controvert social situation and the political instability.
South Africa is a country where everybody asks you how you’re doing.
At home, on the road, everywhere, even if it’s the first time they meet you, there's this habit of being interested in your daily mood. And we're not used to it at all.
It’s an extremely eco-friendly country that protects its beautiful nature and wildlife as much as possible. Its landscapes vary a lot: from the wild savannah in Kruger Park to the endless and spotless beaches of Plettemberg Bay.
Nonetheless, as everywhere in the world, there are several issues.
First of all, SECURITY. The property where I was living had electrical fences all over and I was not allowed to go out for a walk all by myself. Once I received a call at 3AM from someone trying to enter the gate to break in, I’ve been forbidden to drive to Cape Town alone after 10PM or to go hiking in an unprotected park, I felt unsecured and threatened several times when I was alone.
Criminality rate is quite high and this is mainly due to the gap between rich and poors in the country. The poorest part of the population is often kept with a lower level of education and some of them think they can obtain a personal revenge with violence, arms, riots and death.
South Africa experienced a real separation between black and white people during the APARTHEID era. To give you an idea, there were separate hospitals and schools, separate cooking pods even in the tiniest restaurant and it was almost forbidden to have any kind of contact with someone with a different skin color.
Despite the end of this period in 1994 and the importance of Nelson Mandela, the difference is still marked. Especially in the Cape Town area, the size of townships is unbelievable and thousands of black people live in poverty, straggling for their everyday life to maintain their family. The white part of the population has Dutch and English origins and a great part of the country richness is in their hands, even if they only represent 10% of the total population. No matter the differences, the skin color, the social status or lifestyle, everyone has a special bond with this land and will tell you << I’m proud to be South African >>.
South African POLITICAL situation is unstable due to the previous president who didn’t help the country to develop and to reach high levels of sophistications despite all its resources, (natural, minerals, intellectual and so on). This is also the reason why internet connection is still quite primitive in some areas, there are water shortages and electrical breakages. Last year, people were obliged to follow WATER restrictions, for example they had to respect a limited time to take a shower, which is extremely hard to believe for us.
Now, after 5 months in deep contact with this country, I can realize how I ignored all this before because of the lack of knowledge we have in Europe about South Africa. We simply consider it as one of the numerous countries of this continent. I waited a few days after coming back to Italy to think about the past months, I wanted to be more objective and to tell something real and authentic about South Africa.
This country conquered my heart and soul, no matter the difficulties and the freedom that I was used to and that I’ve been missing so much.
I met wonderful people, always helpful and extremely kind, a wonderful manager, a lovely family, true friends, a wonderful staff. But, most of all, MAMA AFRICA took care of me as a daughter, filling my eyes with stunning landscapes and magic wild encounters, showing me its deep cultural and social face, creating memories that I will never forget.
Discovering the differences in the world, gives you another prospective of your personal reality, it makes you aware of what’s outside your comfort-zone and enriches your personal knowledge and personality.
I feel like I added another important chapter to my life and I couldn’t be prouder.
Dankie South Africa, thanks Mama Africa.
To discover more about South Africa, click here! You'll find articles about my Kruger Park safari, the Wine Route, the Diamond Museum and a lot more!