Things A Foreigner Loves About South Africa: The Social Life

Canada, as everyone knows, is awesome… writes Phil Maloney from Maple and Marula. We invented all the best stuff in the world, like the internet, steak, clothes, and Beyonce. OK, like, maybe we didn’t INVENT all that stuff, but we HAVE it in Canada. And, to America’s constant surprise, we also have running water, electricity, and a shocking lack of igloos.

I knew only one of these guys before being invited away for a weekend with them. I’m not even kidding.

I think I’ve made my point. Canada rules.


But when it comes to hanging out and having a social life, I’ve gotta be honest – we kinda suck. We’ve all got a small number of close friends, and we hang out with them. All the time. So if you get sick of Craig and Fariyal (no, Craig and Fariyal, not you. The OTHER Craig and Fariyal. Everything isn’t always about you. Gosh!), you’re kinda stuck hanging out with just your wife and kids, which we all know is super duper lame.

This is where South Africa shines.

I promise that no matter where you are or what you’re doing here, you’re going to run into somebody who will invite you to their house for a lekker braai. Out for dinner? You’ll meet your new best friends.

Grocery shopping? You and the person behind you in line will bond over how ridiculously slowly the checkout clerk is moving (it’s a thing. South Africans, if you’ve never been grocery shopping in literally any other country than South Africa, please don’t get all defensive. Your checkout clerks make sloths look like energetic toddlers who just ingested several bags of incredibly pure cocaine).

Burning tyres on the freeway in a riot (adorably referred to as a strike here)? Bust out the boerewors – you’ll be friends for life. Cause you know the old saying: “those who light stuff on fire and throw rocks at all the cars driving by together, stay together.” Or something like that. I’m not really good at remembering adages.

My point here is that you’ll make boatloads of friends in South Africa. Too many. I was wildly and incredibly popular back home in Canada (because of course I was), but my social calendar was nowhere near as full as it is now.

We literally plan months ahead, and so do our friends, because every weekend in the foreseeable future is full of events and gatherings.

And don’t think you’ll ever get away with attending or hosting a quick little get-together. When you invite South Africans to your house for what you think is going to be a quick little snack, they’ll pile into your home lugging cooler boxes filled with brandy, Coke, and wine. They’re settling in for the long haul.

And when you show up at their house, you stick out like a moose’s ass in a bouquet of flowers if you don’t do the same.

I literally don’t even know who 2 people are in this picture. But I promise you we’re going to hang out again soon. (Thanks Jacky for the picture!)

There’s no drama. There are no expectations. There’s just a genuinely fun-loving, accepting spirit on full display. When I tell people here how incredible their social lives are, they look at me like I’m crazy. To them, this is nothing special – just life. To a Canadian, this is a mind-blowing immersion in South African culture. Their only pre-requisite is that you know how to braai.

Way back when I started this blog, I posted about how over the top South Africans are when it comes to birthday parties. Guys – this larger than life attitude isn’t just limited to birthday parties: this is how they live their lives EVERY SINGLE DAY. Everything is an opportunity to laugh and love being alive. And I’m OK with that.

So Saffas, hats off to you. Your social life is in my top 10 list of things I love about South Africa.

By Phil Maloney

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