South Africa is not just about colour. It’s much more subtle – and much more fun – than that.
When I was here three years ago, I spent quite a bit of time in suburbs like Bellville learning about the Dutch Reformed Church and its community. It’s almost always unwise to think that people and situations may be alike – but I sensed that they would be a bit like the Ulster Protestants. And they were – decent, kindly, hospitable, upright. A bit cautious about outsiders. They were people who had put their faith in a package which combined religion and politics and now felt that they were losing. They kept home baked biscuits in Tupperware boxes. I liked them and felt at home with them.
Yesterday, Mark and I decided it was time for a haircut – if you want to know about a place, get your hair cut there. My hairdresser turned out to be a long way from Bellville – coloured, frizzy hair died auburn and very camp. I don’t have much hair so there was time for a chat. I always have problems with the sticky-out hair at the top – ‘No problem’ he murmured. ‘My ex-partner had hair just like yours. I’ll cut it the way I used to do his’ And so he did. And we chatted about how South Africa is changing and how he wanted to move to Italy – because Australia is too much like South Africa. And he did ears and eyebrows and beard – eyes covered in case bits of beard jumped up and stung them. And with a waft of talc and perfume it was done.
Welcome to the new South Africa!