Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Since arriving in S. Africa five days ago, I’ve been keenly aware of the cultural differences between rural S. Africa, where we are staying, to life in the US, rural or not. There are of course language differences. Even though English is the official language of S. Africa, most S. Africans speak some sort of local dialect. There are clothing, housing and food differences. But I think the most prevalent form of cultural difference has been what is referred to as “African Time”. I know there are other cultures around the world that work off a slower clock than we do in the US, but to see this pace in action is amazing. There’s no hurry to get work done. There is no hurry to get anywhere. Even the waitress in the dining room walks at an extremely slow pace. At first I thought she was old or crippled because her gait was so slow, but then I realized that she just moves slowly, as do all of the staff people we have encountered. I’d equate their gait to the slow ambling gate of many gas station attendants in Oregon – usually the younger guys who just stroll out to the car, but those guys have a seemingly lazy, insolent attitude and that definitely does not seem to be the case here. Life is just lived a bit slower and that begins with the slow pace of the body’s movements. Maybe that’s because it is so often hot and it’s hard to move quickly in the heat. Maybe it is because animals are all around and quick movement calls their attention. We were told that the only thing that runs in S. Africa is food. As I think about what I want to take away from this trip, it’s not the souvenirs or the photos and memories of the animals, though we will have ample amounts of both. No, what I want to take away is a memory of African Time and I want to try to internalize a bit of it in myself.