15 signs that you were born and raised in South Africa

Not all Africans are the same. South Africans are significantly different from many other Africans in the aspect that they are multi racial and multi-cultural. How do you then recognise a South African? Below some tell-tale signs you were born and raised in South Africa 😉

  1. “Howzit bru” in your world is a perfect formal greeting.

Unless they try very hard, South Africans are very informal in their speech.
This by no means lack of respect. They are just being friendly and approachable.

  1. You consider shoes an optional extra. Except when in church or boardroom – come to think about it – forget the boardroom…

The lack of formality leads to relaxed, casual wear. Knee length pants, casual shirts, flip-flops (or lack of thereof…)
In theatre… And in restaurant… And anywhere else! Dress code is very relaxed in most places and venues, unless specifically advised as „black tie event”.

  1. Your favourite student food was a half loaf of bread stuffed with chips and polony spiced up with tomato sauce and mustard…

Yes – this is South African kebab or a hamburger. Gourmet version (bread filled with curry) is called bunny chow. This is often chased with Jagermeister for better digestion. Or with Mampoer. Or at least a beer…

  1. Food is meat (read: only meat is classified as food). All the other stuff is just side dishes… And forget the green stuff!

Although South Africans do eat vegetables, they consume HUGE amounts of meat. Half a kilo steak with helping of woers (local sausage) or rack of ribs are not uncommon sight on a plate… With that, come fairly small servings of starch (chips, rice, pap) and even smaller servings of vegetables. One of my friends seeing my plate full of veggies asked me where was the food 🙂

  1. You are the only person in the world than can properly cook meat on fire. You mastered it in bush with your dad and your uncle – your 4×4 got stuck in a mud for couple of days and you could only eat what you caught.

South Africans (regardless of race) love outdoors. They spend a lot of their time camping in national parks and watching the animals. Hunting is also popular. South African men are very proud of their cooking skills, especially when it comes to cooking steak or potje (stew cooked in large cast iron pot on open fire).

  1. Women are not capable of preparing meat on fire. Don’t even try, if you are a women…

This IS for real! If you come to South African braai (which for sure you will, if you are in South Africa), there will inevitably be a group of men tossing and shifting the meet on webber braai and gossiping (boy, they do gossip…) and drinking beer. At the same time group of women will be in the kitchen preparing salads and deserts and sipping wine 🙂

  1. When overseas, you constantly search biltong. And no, fellow Americans – your jerky does not even come close to biltong. So you make your own…

Biltong is the famous South African snack of dried meat. Meat (beef or game) is first marinated in spices and then left to dry in well ventilated place. You can even buy biltong makers (polycarbonate box with fan and hooks) so that you can make it at home. In fact, any large plastic container can be used 🙂

  1. You run away when you hear “shaya wena”. Your nanny used to scream that at you before she hit your bum with a broomstick…

Domestic labour is cheap in South Africa, therefore a lot of young South Africans off all races would have been looked after by an African nanny or a carer (if not on permanent basis, then from time to time). “Shaya wena” means „I will hit you” in Zulu.

  1. Your name is Fannie or Lolly. Or Forgiveness. And you are a guy…

I was absolutely stunned to find out than many names sound like ladies names, but they are in fact men’s names… This is because South Africans have tendency to soften many words (including names). Sandwich is a „saamie”, swimming costume is a „cozzie”, mosquito is a „mozzie” pick-up truck is a „bakkie” and so on. Similar with names – many of those „softened” names exist as official names, but also many original African names have been translated to English (hence Forgiveness or Blessing…)

  1. You know the true meaning of „eish”

This is one of the most common words in South Africa. You hear it from policeman when you are caught speeding and say you have no money. And in Home Affairs when you enquire about progress of your visa application… And fortunately the word is easy to master…

  1. You sing you national anthem in 5 different languages

There are 11 official languages in South Africa… So having to sing an anthem in only 5 of them is a compromise, really…

  1. For guys: you wanted to pay lobola for your fiancée when you were in kindergarten. Now you don’t really like the idea any more…

Lobola is a customary payment for the bride made by the groom to the parents of the bride to thank them for bringing to the world such a wonderful human being as future bride 🙂 . Despite South Africans considering themselves pretty modern, the old custom is holding well… to the dismay of the potential grooms! And don’t think that you will get away, if you are white! I know mixed couples, were white husband still had to pay lobola for his black bride 😉

  1. You petted a lion, or a leopard before you were 5 years old. You still do it from time to time…

OK… South African’s don’t pet lions or leopards or cheetahs in the wild… But there are plenty rescue centres serving as petting zoos where the little ones are kept before they are released into the nature or reserve. Although there are some moral doubts about such activities, there aren’t many South Africans that haven’t petted little one some stage of their life…


  1. You accept load shedding as reality and part of life

South Africa monopolist, Eskom has huge problems keeping up with demand, especially in winter. And it’s not getting better, it’s actually getting worse, because maintenance is not done in time and cost more and more. So they cut the supply of electricity for a period of time. Area, by area. It is called load shedding. Somehow, South Africans got used to this and “make a plan”. Buy back up generators. Save files on computer all the time. Buy solar changers for their phones and tablets… You really, can live without electricity… For a short time…

  1. You can’t get South Africa out of your head. You think about it, dream about it scream about it. Good and bad.

I met so many South Africans that never travelled abroad. Not because they couldn’t afford it, but because they didn’t want to. The truth is South Africans love their country. Even those that permanently left, because they could not find themselves in the new reality after apartheid collapsed, love South Africa. That’s why they are so bitter and hateful sometimes, because they are not where they truly, really would like to be. The bitter expat is probably the one that misses his home country as hell. Things changed. Some don’t like it. But all love the country.


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