Tuesday, March 26, 2013


     Driving through the countryside in South Africa is an interesting experience. Whenever we drive from Port Elizabeth to Grahamstown we see monkeys crossing the road in front of us. There have been times when I have braked to avoid running over one and have swerved slightly to avoid one.  Yesterday, I swerved to miss a tortoise crossing the road. On occasion we see a monkey at the roadside looking as if he wants to cross the road. He either darts across the road at full speed or stays still.

     Usually it’s goats that align the road, are standing on it or crossing.  In the townships donkeys roam free but they have learned to keep to the sides of the road.  Here in Grahamstown cows have free range throughout the town and have the right of way.  Drivers pause to let cows cross the streets or slowly drive around or through them.  It’s an interesting experience making way for  cows.  I asked a Xosha African, “Who owns the cows roaming in the township?” He said they belong to certain families.  I asked, “Doesn’t one ever get butchered by someone in the night?”

He said "No. Such a thief would be killed, so it doesn’t happen. The Xosha people have respect for cattle and ownership as do other tribes."

     In the townships there are many dogs, most of them skinny through malnourishment. In fact, most Colored and White Afrikanse families own a dog for protection. Besides a dog, there are iron bars on their windows and iron bars on front and back doors.  The homes of these people are quite fortified.  In a way, it’s almost like the wild west days in America, as depicted by Hollywood movies, where homesteaders break a window in their log cabin to shoot at attacking Indians or bad guys. The gated communities are surrounded by 7-8' brick walls with five strands of electric wire running atop, a warning to intruders: “Stay out, or be electrocuted!”  However, despite these precautions, break-ins are common, usually when the owners are away.

     It’s surprising to me the number of White Afrikaans who go barefoot in the stores and on the streets, especially young kids, teenagers, and even adults.  I have yet to see a single Black African
walk barefoot down town in stores or on streets. You would think it would be the other way round, but this is not the case.

     The African women have wonderful hairdos, many intricate styles, even with teenage girls and younger. I have asked women how long it took to do their hair and answers ranged from two hours to half a day. With little girls it can take longer as they can’t sit still for long and need breaks to run around and play.

     There are African women who are beautifully dressed in bright colored dresses. You see them every day in town, many with head wraps, fabric hats, and headdresses.  Some wear elaborate woven hats with beadwork attached. They are quite striking in appearance.  

     One thing that is picturesque are the uniforms worn by members of African churches. Each church has its own uniform. There is a street in the Grahamstown township called Church Street  because it is aligned with five different churches: Apostolic, Baptist, Methodist, Congregational, and Seven Day Adventist. As I drive along this street on Sundays I see members emerging from their churches wearing their respective church uniform. It’s an attractive sight.

     Women wear long dresses or skirts, blouses and hats. Men wear shirts and ties and some wear coats. Boys and girls wear assorted Sunday best. Despite poverty and living in shacks and small sub standard cubicle houses, efforts to look their best for church are most commendable. The pastor is dressed in a suit; some pastors wear a robe.

     One church, and I’m not sure their denomination, the women wear blue and white dresses with a blue nurses hat.  Another denomination the women wear red dresses with a hat.  There’s one church with women wearing brown skirts, white blouses and assorted hats. There’s also a church where women have a small short cape attached to their uniform somewhat resembling a sailor. These church goers look good and spiffy and are a nice sight to see on the streets on Sundays.  

     South Africa is a very interesting country. I like it here. There’s all kinds of food in the grocery stores, the fruit juices are excellent with many varieties, the bakeries are excellent, and there are several kinds of meat reflecting the different African animals. Of course the animal parks are always worth a visit, and being Port Elizabeth is by the sea, there is ample seafood. The culture is interesting, and just as Ron enjoys driving his UTA bus, I enjoy driving our 2011 Nissan Tida all over the place.  As for our Church, the work goes forward, the young missionaries are very dedicated, and the members of wards and branches are warm and friendly. It’s enjoyable to mingle with them and contribute to the Lord’s work.

Elder S


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