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A few ways to spot other South African expats

By November 7, 2016October 3rd,

A few ways to spot other South African expats

November 7, 2016

For new immigrants, the yearning for home can sometimes be overwhelming. And with so many South Africans back home judging you for your decision to relocate abroad, it’s not always easy to share your feelings of loss and longing with others.

But there are few things that can light up your day like meeting other saffas in your new home. So when the longing becomes too much, why not go out scouting for South Africans in the streets. We give you some pointers which will help you spot the Homo Sapiens Safafricanus of the genus “Saffa” from a mile away.

Signs you’ve spotted a South African


The ones dipping their rusks in their coffee


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Loads of people around the world dip various treats in their coffee, but nowhere else is it such a custom than in South Africa. So if you’re sitting at your local picnic or coffee spot and see someone taking a beskuitjie from their handbag to dip in their warm bev, then you’ve probably spotted the lesser-spotted saffa.

The ones with the lamb chops and wors in their cart


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Getting real boerewors overseas is not that easy, so if you spot someone wandering around the meat aisle with a big pack of lamb chops, some form of sausage in their supermarket trolley, then you’re certain this person is heading for a braai. If they happen to have the biggest, fattest rump steak, coleslaw, two loaves of bread with cheese, onion and tomato in their trolley – then there’s a 100% certainty of fire, braai broodjies and South African kuier in their future.

The ones who give you directions which include turning at robots


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Another thing you won’t hear unless you’re into robotics, is any reference to robots when you’re seeking directions. So if you ask for directions or overhear someone giving directions to others on the tram, and you can’t tell their origin by their accent, then perk your ears – if you hear robot thrown into the mix, then that’s a saffa right there.

The ones buying bags of wood


Fire may not be a South African invention, but needless to say – it is a big deal in all South African cultures. If you’re seeing a lost soul searching for wood in the supermarket, in the camping area or around the holiday home, then this soul maybe a migrant saffa planning a big old fire in the back yard.

The ones putting ‘tomato sauce’ on their ‘slap chips’


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If you’re overseas, chances are you’ll ask for ketchup at the restaurant – if you ask for additional condiments at all. If, however, you’re at a restaurant and spot a family gratuitously squirting tomato sauce over their fries, burgers and hot dogs you may be in luck; you may be spotting a pack of saffas in their natural grazing habitat.

They address elders by their titles


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Talking about the antie above, if you happen to hear a conversation where someone addresses older people with “oom”, “tannie”, “auntie”, or “uncle”, then there’s no way you’ve not just overheard a saffa speaking. Go over there and introduce yourself!

Bare feet, sandals and vellies


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There are plenty of people around the world who believe that going barefoot is good for you. Some do it for religious reasons – others for health reasons – but in South Africa this barefoot trend is one which is especially popular during childhood. If you spot a flock of wild children running behind mum in the supermarket without shoes, or if they’re wearing leather vellies or worn sandals, there may be a chance that it is, indeed, a flock of saffas.

Of course, there are several other ways to spot a saffa – they may even be wearing the rainbow nation flag, cricket or rugby gear or some African tribal outfits. They may have rows of beads around their arms and necks. They may be walking around with a brown paper bag full of biltong. Perhaps they’re the ones scouring the supermarket shelves for marmite, chutney or chakalaka. Or perhaps you can simply hear them by the characteristic tongue-click of our local languages.

Either way, we hope you find a fellow saffa to warm away the longing soon. Share a Castle, share a braai and talk about the place of wildebeest, church bazaars and toyi-toying.

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