Wednesday, February 27, 2008

South Africa

This truly is a fascinating country. Unlike America, where we have our so-called 'melting pot,' in South Africa many groups of people have settled here and have kept their cultures and their languages. I ate with a seminarian last night who speaks a total of seven languages! And they can shift from one to the other without any problems. The classes here are taught in English, but the professors speak German, and the students speak a variety of other languages. I am hoping to learn more about this as I am here, but in addition, the Lutheran Church here has congregations from all these different groups, and they work together pretty well. There is a German-speaking congregation down the street, and on campus a Zulu (I think) and English speaking church meet on Sundays. The different cultures that exist side by side here make it a very different place than I am used to.

On the other hand, as we drove through the countryside, I was struck by how similar things are while being completely different. I saw tons of cornfields (some with Pioneer signs!), some soybean fields, a lot of cattle, and even some pig farms. There were even a couple pivots! But then we also saw subsistance farms scattered all around, where people lived in mud huts and tried to scrape a living from the land. The terrain in some places was little different from Indiana or Nebraska, while we also saw spectacular scenery with low mountains. We found a KFC in every town, and expensive car dealerships, but right next to them was evidence of great poverty. The contrasts here are incredible, especially in the rural areas. Finally, we just got done with a long walk downtown. Pretoria is quite similar to a European city (or so I've been told), but there are aspects that are distinctly African. Almost everything is in English, but the language on the streets is usually something else. I have enjoyed my time here a lot, and learning about this country and the Church here has been great. I better get going, I'm keeping a student waiting!

No comments: