For information on travel in South Africa, I suggest you click on the link below. It belongs to my friend, Mike Gregory who lives in Cape Town. His page is a wealth of information on South Africa.  

http://www.backpacking.co.za  

I corresponded with Mike on the net, and we ended up staying with him at his home in Cape Town for a few days in March 1998 (along with his 2 neurotic dogs). Mike is very interested in any information you may glean during your travels in South Africa, such as cheap places to stay, Inet Cafe locations, etc. You can E-Mail him at  mgregory@iafrica.com

Myself, my ex-wife Megan, and Mike Gregory (center) at his house in Cape town.

 

My Personal Impressions of South Africa:

(For what its worth, these are my impressions of South Africa based on my limited exposure.)

Vancouver seems to be swarming with expatriate South Africans (mainly white) these days. Most I have talked to seem to be very pessimistic about the future of South Africa under black rule, which is why they are in Canada, I suppose. I was very interested in visiting South Africa and see for myself what the "new" South Africa was like and if the Rainbow Society is in fact a reality.

My first exposure to the new South Africa was on the South African Airways flight from Harare to Johannesburg when I found myself seated to a black South African school teacher. He seemed somewhat reluctant to converse with me at first, but soon opened up about what it was like to be a black South African under Apartheid and what the changes have bought. He seemed quite concerned about the daunting prospect of getting the bulk of Black South Africans educated to a level where they can realistically perform the sort of jobs that are now held by white South Africans. He left me his phone number in Cape town and invited me to visit him. To my regret, I misplaced this and never had the opportunity.

My next South African, was of course Mike Gregory whom we stayed with in Cape town. Mike has an optimistic view of the future and is a confirmed African. I can't imagine him bailing out to Canada or Australia. The country obviously needs a lot more people with this attitude if it is to survive.

During my travels up the coast, I conversed with many South Africans, mainly white. Most seem quite concerned about the future, especially those with children. There is a type of reverse discrimination occurring in the country because of affirmative action. We have experienced this in North America with the same issues of colour and also gender. Its a tough call. On one hand, the inequities have to be addressed, but it makes it tough for young people to find employment if they are white.

I was struck by the still obvious presence of large squatter towns on the outskirts of what appeared to be quite wealthy white dominated towns along the coast. I don't know whether I had some sort of naive impression that these would be gone by now, but they still shocked me somewhat. Most white South Africans I met, went out of their way not to appear racist. I think this is to their credit, it must be difficult not to be racist, considering the history of the country. There seemed to be a widespread respect for Nelson Mandela among South African whites I met, and most seem more than a little worried about what may happen once he steps down. After visiting the Robben Island Prison where he was held for 18 years, its hard not to have a lot of respect for the man and his current commitment to creating an integrated society. As far as integration is concerned, there seems to be a fair bit of evidence that this is occurring in the Cape town area, but I saw little evidence of it elsewhere.

South Africa is a beautiful country and it would be nice if it manages to be the first African country to make a successful transition to a prosperous multi-racial society, but I have my doubts.