I have often heard my South African friends using the phrase “only in South Africa”. This phrase is something that has always slightly amused me and I guess because I don’t live here has flown a bit over my head.

Today I experienced something that I would put in the “only in South Africa” bucket of stories of mishaps and oddities that occur in this beautiful and vast country. We have started delivering several educational sessions with one of the local schools over the next 3 days. Each day 60 kids.

The task consists of rotating grade 7 kids (11 years old) across 4 conservation topics (solar system, energy, web of life and population and natural resources). The natures valley team have been planning this for several weeks, printing documents, buying pencils, organising lunches for 60 kids, determining how the facilitators topics will manage the number of kids in each session. All of those things that you naturally plan in advance when hosting such a session.

We are all set to go at 9:30 this morning – no kids. The bus arrives late because they needed to all have a picture taken with the bus – super excited about their trip out of school!  So they finally arrived not 60 kids but 84 kids plus 3 teachers and a bus driver – note only 1 bus!

Understandably the teacher didn’t want any students to miss out on the opportunity, so instead of booking another day session when they were in planning discussions they just thought they could just add kids onto the bus without telling anyone…not enough paper, pencils, food…. ummm does it qualify for only in South Africa?

This got me thinking about my friends and how to elaborate on their amazingly unique country. So I thought I would share some snippets that I found, so you really do know that you are in South Africa!

  1. They call the traffic lights “robots”.
  2. You have to hire a security guard whenever you park your car – everywhere!
  3. Hijacking cars is a profession
  4. The petrol in your tank is really worth more than your hire car
  5. Apparently more people vote in a local reality TV shows than in an election
  6. People say “I will be with you Now now” but this can mean anything from a minute to a month!
  7. South Africans understand the time difference between “now now”, “just now” and “right now”.
  8. Where else in the world can you get a newspaper, sunglasses, a car cellphone charger, your car windows washed, flowers and all sorts of toys at a set of traffic lights?
  9. Apparently they paint their car registration on the roof
  10. You don’t stop at a red traffic light, in case somebody hijacks your car.
  11. The dissatisfied employees DANCE in front of a building to show how unhappy they are.
  12. Everyone knows someone who has met Nelson Mandela.
  13. They go to “braais” (barbecues), where you eat boerewors (long meaty sausage-type thing)
  14. Eating month old dried meat seems to be an acceptable snack.
  15. Taxis appear to have right of way on all roads, circles (roundabouts) and traffic lights.

I am sure that there are many many more and I am sure that many visitors to the UK laugh at our quirky ways too.  My “only in South Africa” experience is alright with me!