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Old 07-07-2013, 10:08 AM
 
Location: Montreal
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Is it fair to characterize white South Africa as either an Anglo-Dutch or Anglo-Afrikaner society?
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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Are you asking whether one of those is better or whether either of them is acceptable? There are plenty of white South Africans who don't speak Afrikaans at home and probably almost none who speak Dutch at home. I wouldn't call it Anglo-Dutch or Anglo-Afrikaner that much more than I would call Canada Anglo-French. White South African is White South African as much as Australian is Australian or Canadian is Canadian.
The difference isn't really the Dutch (or English) influence as much as the extreme racial/class divide. White South Africa is a minority, albeit an incredibly powerful one. There's not really another country in the world in that same situation anymore.
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Old 07-08-2013, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Montreal
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What I mean really is that Afrikaners and Anglos in South Africa live in many of the same areas, whereas in Canada, the French are largely in Quebec (and some in Acadia) and the Anglos are largely in the other nine provinces. Of course, South African English has a considerable Afrikaans influence in terms of some words and the accent and stuff like that. Furthermore, the legal system in South Africa shows more mixture of English and Dutch laws than the Canadian one (in which only Quebec has French law, and that, only on a provincial level).
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Old 07-09-2013, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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That's true. There aren't really provinces that are as Dutch as Quebec is French, but there are areas of the cities that have more Afrikaans speakers and areas that have more English speakers (and areas that have more Xhosa and all the others, of course).
It's actually an interesting thing that when you fly into Toronto, all the signs are in English and French, even though there are very few French Canadians in Toronto, but when you fly into Cape Town, there's hardly any Afrikaans anywhere, even though there are tons of Afrikaners in Cape Town.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:07 AM
 
Location: Montreal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steel03 View Post
That's true. There aren't really provinces that are as Dutch as Quebec is French, but there are areas of the cities that have more Afrikaans speakers and areas that have more English speakers (and areas that have more Xhosa and all the others, of course).
It's actually an interesting thing that when you fly into Toronto, all the signs are in English and French, even though there are very few French Canadians in Toronto, but when you fly into Cape Town, there's hardly any Afrikaans anywhere, even though there are tons of Afrikaners in Cape Town.
Isn't it a function of Canada having an Official Languages Act and South Africa not having an exact equivalent? And from what I remember, as a Canadian, there are many more signs in French in the airports than on the street in such anglophone Canadian cities as Toronto, Halifax, or Winnipeg. Are you saying that in a place like Cape Town, the signs (both in the airport and on the streets) are all in English?
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:03 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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You're probably right. In Cape Town, it depends where you are, but generally most signs are in English only.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:06 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Originally Posted by steel03 View Post
It's actually an interesting thing that when you fly into Toronto, all the signs are in English and French, even though there are very few French Canadians in Toronto, but when you fly into Cape Town, there's hardly any Afrikaans anywhere, even though there are tons of Afrikaners in Cape Town.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought in the Western Cape, while the coloured (mixed-race) majority speaks Afrikaans, the white population is pretty overwhelmingly English-speaking these days.
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Old 07-11-2013, 04:26 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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I haven't been in Cape Town long, so I am far from your best source on this, but yes, that's my understanding too. You do hear a lot of white South Africans speaking Afrikaans, but everyone pretty much speaks English as a default in public interaction.
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Old 08-03-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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I'd like to ask as I have never been to South Africa and have read its history how white US tourists fare in South Africa cities and the countryside. What can they expect on their travels? Thank you.
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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Well I'm a temporary resident from the US, so I can't come at that question from a completely local perspective. I haven't experienced anything too horrible.

The thing about South Africa is that it's a collision of Western and African culture (and Cape Town adds Eastern culture to the mix as well). There are places where you feel like you could be in Melbourne, and other places where you feel like you're very very very far away from anything you've ever known, and those places are often within a few kilometers of each other. I was talking to a (white) woman the other day about Apartheid, and she said, "the laws might be gone, but nothing's changed and nothing's changing." Then there are other places that feel like a bad imitation of the West, like Western society imagined by someone who's only seen it in movies - misspellings in advertisements, a strange fascination with KFC, common phrases and wordings that would seem cliched in the UK or North America. It's a very weird experience. I don't think there's anywhere else in the world in the same situation as South Africa.

So what does all that mean? Well, I confess I haven't really figured it out exactly yet, but it's a cultural dynamic that I've never seen anything like before, and it makes me completely rethink American history and the way we handle race relations in the US, and also it makes me just detest European imperialism more than I ever thought I would, and it makes me feel bad for black and coloured South Africans for the domination of their history by white Europeans, and it makes me feel bad for white South Africans for having to live with the guilt of Apartheid so close behind them. But at the same time, would the country really be better off if the Portuguese and Dutch and British hadn't colonized here? Look at the state of the rest of Africa - I mean South Africa might not have it perfect, but it's in much much better shape than most of the rest of the continent. It's complicated, but it's something I'm really really glad I've been able to see in my life, and to be a part of.

Now of course, MOST Americans who visit South Africa don't really see any of that. They might do a township tour if they're adventurous, but most of them stick to Camps Bay, Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, Cape Point, then hop on a plane to Kruger National Park for a few days of safari before flying home. I like the Waterfront and Camps Bay a lot, but that's no more South Africa than Miami Beach is America. So for the most part, US tourists stick to the shiny bits and don't really experience much that will throw them too far out of their comfort zone.

But here are some things an American tourist can probably expect to encounter:

* You will get harassed on the street. You just will, guaranteed. Every day, more than once. More than twice, probably, even in the nice areas like the Waterfront. Begging is an epidemic here since the unemployment and poverty rates are so high and the rich-poor gap is so extreme. They can spot a tourist from a mile off and range in aggressiveness from a simple "Sorry brother?" as you pass to following you and talking at you for two blocks or rapping on your bus window until the light turns green. They'll usually leave you alone if you just ignore it or give them a firm "no," but you get a few who swear at you and every once in a while maybe one who gets more angry (some highlights: "someday you'll ask me for water and you see what I say," he yells as he runs after me down the street; "this is why you people always get mugged;" "why are you so afraid of me?"). Very very few of them would ever actually harm you, though unfortunately it's a lot less safe for women, but it can still be quite scary.

* You will spend either way too much money or not nearly enough money. The Rand-USD exchange rate does weird things to your head, man. It's about R10 to $1, so you'll routinely do things like pay R130 for a meal or get R2000 from a cash machine. So it's a little strange using 100s to pay for groceries and stuff, but it also seems to be the case that R10 has about twice the purchasing power of $1, give or take, depending on the thing you're buying. So you can often get a full meal with a side and a beverage for the equivalent of $4-6. It's gone back and forth for me feeling like "I'm hardly spending any money on anything because it feels like I'm spending way more than I am" on one end to "I'm going to accidentally spend all my money because everything is so cheap here and I keep thinking it all costs nothing" on the other.

* People are not patient or helpful by default. Americans like to talk about the Northeast being so unfriendly, but it's not at all. People say Joburg is friendlier (will find out for myself soon), but in Cape Town at least, you need a very thick skin, especially dealing with the service industry. It's interesting because all the Capetonians go on and on about how they're sooo laid-back and "haha! don't worry, he's not late, it's just African Time" and "TIA, man, TIA - This is AFRICA." But I've gotten the sense that the culture is a bit more... impatient and self-centered than laid back. Can I say that without sounding judgmental? I've met a lot really wonderful, friendly, patient, helpful South Africans, that's just my assessment of the society as a whole, at least in Cape Town.

It's such a beautiful place and a very good one to visit, but there's no getting around the fact that it's still a developing nation whose darkest chapter is still within living memory. It's a challenging vacation spot - definitely several steps higher on the adventure scale than anywhere in Europe, the US & Canada, or Australia & New Zealand - but well worth it.

I hope that helps!
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