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Our journey starts with a flight from Berlin to Frankfurt. There we take an Airbus 380 and fly to Johannesburg, Oliver Tamboo airport. After a 10-hour-flight we arrive around eight in the morning and are picked up and driven to our accommodation for the next two weeks: the Quest center in Vanderbijlpark, Vaal region. After arrival we discover the environment. Walking down the dry, flat paths along the road, we see a lot of unfamiliar plants and insects, as well as big walls securing most of the houses. There are no sidewalks, no Zebrastreifen or anything for pedestrians, it anyway seems as if we are almost the only ones not using a car.
In the evening, professor Susan Coetzee-Van Rooy, her husband Professor Bertus van Rooy, their family and some students from the North-West University welcome us with a typical South African dinner: Braai. That is the short version of the Afrikaans word Braaivleis which means “fried meat” and is a traditional barbeque. It is usually served with pap, a white mash made of grinded mileis (corn). Also some kind of spinach called morogo in Sotho or imifino in Zulu is being served. Beside the numerous variations of grilled meat we eat salad and a very sweet dessert and try typical South African Lager. While having dinner we talk about the language diversity in the country and the socio-political situation in the region.
The South African students translate their names into English, they stand for “success” and “progress”. Interestingly, none of the German students knows what their names stand for. As lingua franca we use English this evening, everyone having his or her own dialect. The South African students teach some of us a few Xhosa words, leaving us desperately trying to articulate the click-sounds of this language. Others have an interesting chat with Harrie, the son of Mrs. Coetztee-van Rooy, who is fluent in English. Surprisingly, he is not very proud of that, since he is better in English than in Afrikaans, his mother tongue. In the end of the evening, we have got a first impression of South African food, manners and people.
We are now looking forward to the cooperation with the North-West University in the next two weeks and are excited to find out more about the different languages and traditions here.
Text: Katja Wiegand, Joana Schmidt and Isabel Dückert
Online-Editing: Agnes Bressa, Translation: Kristin Hofmann
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