Things British people will never understand about South Africans

I’ve been living in Cape Town for 6 years. 6 years that have felt like 6 months. I still feel new here. I feel like 10 years is when I have to start thinking that this is serious and that I’m actually a proper Capetonian. Until that decade comes, I’m still learning about South Africans because they are freakin’ weird. I thought the Brits were strange with our incessant need for tea, queues and soap operas that rehash the same story line every 2 years. No, Saffas have some odd habits, sayings & mannerisms, these are just a few of them that I still can’t get my head around.

Now. [phrase] “I’ll be there now.” This roughly translates to “I’ll be there in approximately 30 minutes.”

Now, now. [phrase] “I’ll meet you there now now.” Meaning, “Dude, like, I’m not down with these time restrictions you’re setting on me. I can’t commit to anything less than an hour.”

Just now. [phrase]  “See you just now.” = “See you at Christmas.”

Saying things wrong. Yog-urt instead of yo-gurt and fur-head instead of for-head. In fact, I can’t even spell how they say forehead because it makes no sense (It’s how I imagine a seal would sound if it tried to pronounce forehead).

Lateness. The running joke is that Cape Town is called the Mother City because everything/everyone takes 9 months to arrive. This becomes less funny when dealing with late dinner guests/business meetings/deliveries etc. Tragically, I am now entirely Capetonian. I haven’t arrived early for anything in 3 years.

Indicating. Florence Lawrence (Canadian) invented a turn indicator for cars in about 1914 and South Africans have been ignoring them ever since.

Hibernation. As soon as the bad weather sets in, people go missing. If you want to find them, check under their duvet covers. With a lack of insulation in most people’s houses, no one really wants to go out. Genuinely, you can not see friends for 3 months because of the weather.

Butter. Rocking up to a braai and being offered margarine as “butter”. No, that won’t and never will be butter, stop desecrating the name of dairy you peasant!

Butter part 2. Having people rock up to your braai and eating ALL your butter.

Drinks. Adding coke to wine. WHAT IS THAT!?

Ons Gaan Nou Braai. Starting a braai (BBQ) at 6 and not eating till midnight. People used to think I was such a grumpy biatch (they probably still do) but I was just hangry all the time. Now, I rarely accept a braai invitation unless the chef signs a contract stating that the meat will be on the fire by 5:30pm.

Thinking that London IS England. “Oh you’re from the UK? Did you live in London? I have a friend called Pete, he lives in London. Do you know him?” Ya lady, Pete ran the entire town and we used to chat via tin can telephones.

Can you think of anything that I’ve missed?


You Might Also Like


  • Reply Jenny Coulson October 7, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Okay, I need you to send me a voice note that clearly depicts how we say “forehead” – because I had no idea we say it differently?! (May have tried to say it out loud like a seal. Still not getting it. HELP.)

    • Reply Shante Hutton October 7, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      I have just sent you my best seal impression…..

  • Reply Andrew October 11, 2016 at 6:06 am

    forrid 🙂

  • Leave a Reply