Sepp Blatter’s spectacle is here. Just about. Which means intrepid tourists - unfazed by mild insurrections, crumbling roads, strikes, crime or the myriad botherations that make South Africa wonderfully unique - are packing. Here’s what to pack, where to go and how to apologise for colonialism.
The sundry foreigners readying themselves to head to South Africa for the 2010 Fifa World Cup must be facing a quandary. Do they bring a mini-generator with? What local phrases should they learn? And exactly how do you play a vuvuzela with a lion chasing you down a suburban street?
Following his groundbreaking documentary “Krugersdorp – City of the New Future”, The Daily Maverick asked Brendan Jack for advice. A writer, producer, director and comedian who dreams of working for world peace with Bono, Jack is the star of “Crazy Monkey”, “Straight Outta Benoni” and “Footskating 101”.
Daily Maverick: How many local languages do foreigners need to know to get by?
Brendan Jack: You’ll only need to speak in Rands. Currency is our most widely understood language.
DM: What local phrases could be useful?
BJ: “Sorry we tried to colonise you. Our bad.”
“Can I just pay a spot fine for talking on my cellphone while driving?”
“Do you sell any bigger wooden giraffe statues than this one?”
“I’m from Namibia, don’t charge me European prices.”
DM: What should tourists bring with?
BJ: Evian water. It’s expensive here. A passport.
DM: What can first-time tourists to South Africa expect?
BJ: Malls. Spanish flags on cars. Animals roaming freely – in zoos and game reserves. Fellow Americans.
DM: How can tourists ensure they don’t fall foul of Fifa?
BJ: Bring sunscreen in case they confiscate your non-Fifa sanctioned sports cap.
Fifa will be monitoring you at all times. Fifa is your friend.
DM: Are there special procedures for paying homage to Sepp Blatter?
BJ: There’s the Sepp Blatter tribute dance, which you’ll learn on arrival at the airport.
You could also friend him on Facebook and send him encouraging messages.
DM: What lesser-known local attractions could hold appeal?
BJ: The Owl House in the Sneeuberg Mountains. Knysna Forest – aka Middle Earth. (Before it was changed to New Zealand.)
DM: What about undiscovered attractions?
BJ: The Bunny Park in Benoni has more bunnies than the Playboy Mansion, except the whole family can go. The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Roodepoort is great for a picnic or a drink before work. There’s a very rural golf course near Victoria West in the Karoo. You carry around and play off Astroturf mats. Phone them for directions. And then there’s De Aar. Because wherever you go, there De Aar.
There’s Charlize’s old house in Benoni. Not that interesting, but it’s the birthplace of SA’s Marilyn Monroe. The Lakeside Mall in Benoni. It looks like a Mississippi riverboat and has a mine dump next to it. There’s also an overgrown park nearby, where you can organise liaisons with strangers on MXit from Durban Deep in Roodepoort. The Wisteria Lane of Footskating. Just leave before nightfall.
DM: Any places foreigners should avoid?
DM: What basic political knowledge should visitors know about?
BJ: You only need to know the words “Julius Malema” to set South Africans off on a 10-minute rant. Once finished, the aforementioned South African will feel that you’ve bonded politically.
DM: How will foreigners know the difference between Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema?
BJ: One of them will be spraying champagne on the working class as you speak.
DM: What must visitors know about the vuvuzela?
BJ: The thin side goes in your mouth. It’s impossible to play more than one note and it’s said to be even more difficult to master than the French Horn.
DM: How can visitors soak up South African culture?
BJ: From an air-conditioned hotel-supplied van shuttling them to the stadium.
DM: Any special dress code so that the foreigners can fit in?
BJ: White tourists should wear Madiba shirts. You won’t stand out at all. Also, Panama hats and moonbags (the Yanks call them fanny packs) will help you become “invisible” to locals. For the Brits, a shirtless look with crab-apple red skin seems to be popular.
DM: South African wines are an obvious choice, what about lesser known beverages and cuisine?
BJ: Pre-mixed Brandy-and-Coke takes the guesswork out of pouring it yourself. Nik Naks chips and a boerie roll – served on a paper plate. Afval, which is basically intestines. There’s a reason it sounds awful, but if you want something different…
DM: What do visitors need to know about our local currency?
BJ: It’s easier to pay in war bonds than with R200 notes.
DM: How can visitors take a little bit of Africa back home with them?
BJ: If you’re famous, then via an adoption agency. Also, buy an overly long wooden giraffe statue that doesn’t fit into carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, we don’t make convenient mementos like snow globes. Mostly because we don’t get snow.
By Mandy de Waal.
While we have your attention...
An increasingly rare commodity, quality independent journalism costs money - though not nearly as much as its absence.
Every article, every day, is our contribution to Defending Truth in South Africa. If you would like to join us on this mission, you could do much worse than support Daily Maverick's quest by becoming a Maverick Insider.
Click here to become a Maverick Insider and get a closer look at the Truth.
"We spend the first year of a child's life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There's something wrong there." ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson