This was my first time in two decades travelling to another African country and my first time ever travelling to the south of Africa. While I had heard a lot of things about South Africa, I didn’t think I would encounter these funny, sometimes serious, events. But not all of them were from South Africans by the way. Let’s start from the Cape Town Airport.
1. Immigration decided to search my bags before I exited the airport
For my journey to Stellenbosch, I took two large bags, a bag three-quarter the size of the large ones and a small bag to carry my laptop and documents. I think this caught the attention of the immigration officers and I was picked to be searched. The immigration officer who searched my bag was shocked on seeing the contents inside. In my bag were plates, cups, bowls, a utensil, cutlery, books, red pepper, Tom Brown, milo, sugar, besides clothes and footwear. She asked me, “Mr, why are you in South Africa?” And I responded, “I am here to do my PhD, and it’s for a period of three years”. To which she laughed and said, “Oh man, you really came prepared”, and sent me on my way.
2. For one week, I fed on Milo and biscuits for breakfast, and then Tom Brown and biscuits for lunch and supper
This was my own fault. While I couldn’t get to exchange South African currency in Ghana, I should have done so at the Cape Town Airport. I had just 50 rands and a few dollars on me, but I didn’t want to exchange the dollars, in anticipation of payment of the first instalment of my bursary. Sadly, the unexpected happened: my bursary delayed, and I had to survive on 50 rands. Thanks to my wife, she had asked me to take along a small cooking utensil. She had also loaded my bag with containers of roasted corn powder and sugar, Milo, biscuits, and some cutlery and bowls. That’s how I ended up taking Milo, Tom Brown and biscuits every day for one week.
Yesterday, I asked one of my house mates what she thought was happening, and she said she thought I was finding it difficult to like the food here or that I just loved Tom Brown so much that I couldn’t do without it.
3. My liquid soap got stolen, and someone drank off my fruit juice
I am not sure if this was some kind of welcome event for me. Anytime I remember this incident, I get as shocked and surprised as if it just happened. Why would anyone steal the liquid soap I bought? And on top of it, someone drank off my fruit juice.
4. I came with lots of heavy clothing thinking it will be winter
I don’t know how I kept thinking it would be winter in South Africa when I arrived. I had been told later that it was the reverse of Europe’s, but the primacy effect had caught up on me and my subconscious mind kept believing otherwise. And here was I under such unimaginable heat from the scorching sun. Alas, my senses came back to me: it was summer! Luckily, I had brought a few shirts and shorts. On the good side, I won’t have to buy heavy clothing when winter arrives in May/June.
5. An Afrikaans girl said she hates me and I smiled
On a very hot afternoon, I saw some Afrikaans kids playing outside and tried befriending them. But one of them, a girl of about six or seven was unsuccessfully asking her younger sister to stop being friendly. So she turned to me and said, “We don’t love you! We hate you!” I smiled and replied, “That’s okay, I’m cool.”
6. A house mate asked if I smoke ganja, and when I said no, he asked of my age
I was in the lounge watching the late news when a house mate asked if I smoke ganja. (He was holding one in his hand just about to smoke). I smiled and said, “No.” Then he asked, “Do you drink?” Again, I said, “No.” Can you believe the question he asked next: “How old are you?”
7. A lady looked in my face boldly, and with full knowledge, passed out gas during a meeting
We were in a meeting and the lady seated next to me looked into my eyes and said boldly, “Let me just free myself”. Immediately, she raised her right butt and passed out gas. I was torn between clapping for her and saying “well done”, or ignoring her and focussing on what was being discussed at the meeting. Looking back, I think I should have said, “Well done, beautiful girl.”
8. A friend asked if garden eggs (egg plants) were chicken eggs
Once I got notification from my bank that our bursaries had been paid, I rushed to the supermarket with a friend. I wanted to prepare some soup asap. I love soup. I asked where I could find garden eggs in the food market. She looked at me (obviously confused) and asked, “You mean chicken eggs?” Of course, I couldn’t have laughed. Cultural differences.
9. I shared a house mate’s laptop charger for one week
South Africa uses an M-type plug, but I didn’t know this. Since I had only 50 rands on me, there was no way I could buy one until my bursary had been paid. So, I had to adopt a strategy. I will normally use my mate’s charger overnight and return it the next morning. It continued until I bought an adapter. It was kind of embarrassing, but I couldn’t help it.
10. A barber thought a journey to Ghana could be made in a day by bus
I was at the barber’s shop and I got into conversation with the guy cutting my hair. We talked about Ghana and how things were relatively cheaper. But for some reason (and I don’t know why), the guy thought that one could make a journey to Ghana in a day by bus, and he was thinking of purchasing some items from Ghana. But when I told him those items may have to be shipped, he was surprised and asked, “How long is Ghana from here by bus”? I couldn’t help but laugh.
There are other things I could add like some people disturbing my sleep with rumpus sex. I will share those details with my wife only.