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A letter to a stranger about my home country, South Africa

TeenyPen lives in Texas, and has been to South Africa and loved it. He is writing a gender critical critique of the Bible:

I wrote:
Oh my goodness, that's brilliant. I am looking forward to your book. You are being cagey about the title I guess it's not settled yet, so I guess I shouldn't press you. I have filled it into my iCal (digital calendar) to remind me in 2 years time to check for it. It impresses me when people actually do something, like you.

Cape Town is great. People are so open and sharing, if you know them. And the culture stuff is good too. And there is no more beautiful place in South Africa, unless you like desert. My favorite places are north. It's quiet and the roads are open and there are no people. Now and then you see strange looking bushes. People are helpful and don't try to take advantage of you. There's little or no racism up there, people have lived together, sharing minimal resources for decades, and it's made them generous. We stayed with a friend in Fishhoek last, and she just moved right out of her house and gave it to us, and stayed with another friend of hers around the corner.

People think differently in all the other provinces. Gauteng (where Johannesburg and Pretoria are) is vile because it is so insanely money-grabbing. But Johannesburg offers art and culture like no other place in South Africa. Because there is money floating around, and the companies are right there that are being forced into social responsibility, there is something really happening in arts and culture. However, Joburgians hate Pretorians and Joburgians have their exhibition openings at 6 'clock in the middle of the week. It is impossible to wade through the traffic to Johannesburg after work, and they know it. It would take two hours. An ordinary trip to Joburg, not at peak time, takes 40 minutes, which would leave 20 minutes to spare, have a coffee or something. But no, the Joburgians slap it right in the middle of peak time. Oh well. We go through once or twice a month and cruise the museums, and exhibitions, and festivals and things. It can be scary because there is tons of poverty and stuff, and crime and fear. But if you can be cautious, you will be fine.

When I went overseas I went hunting for the perfect museum. And I loved Auschwitz for it's emotional content. But pretty much the other museums I went to didn't throw me off my horse. And two years later I went to Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg. (I wanted to show you where that is on Google Earth, but it looks like it's not up, or it's there but not too clear. It's southward of Constitution Hill, where we hold our Women's Forum meetings. Ironically, over the area there is a National Geographic square that's title is 'Wasteland') Anyway, Museum Africa turned out to be the best museum I have ever been to. They had a display on Apartheid architecture (how architecture contributes to the oppression of a people), with street sound, and mazes of information where you walk through and stop here and there to watch multimedia displays. And there was an art display of one of our most brilliant artists, Willem Boshoff - on fortunetelling, and a display on what it is like to vote in the townships. And, and, and... I was there the entire day, and I got through about half. And then after you can go next door and pick up some divine food at the Middle Eastern takeaway, and then off over the road for stand-up comedy or jazz.

Oops, I am rambling. Must get back to work.

...

Nope, I am an enthusiastic ex-student of a University though, does that count? Where I studied Feminism. I consider myself an activist, but I operate in a vacuum. I guess I could fathom out a divine book on how to sustain feminist energy in a vacuum. I am an enthusiastic, and militant, feminist. But, no one I know would admit to being a feminist, and most people I know (almost every person I know bar one or two) would actively undermine my efforts. South Africans have a staunchly patriarchal legacy, men and women alike, and you kinda have to work around that. I have tried the bull in a china shop technique (which befits my size [6 foot, 230 pounds]) but have had to graduate to the ambivalent fairy technique (very difficult at my size). The difficulties of the situation keep me awake during the day, which is good, and keep me awake at night, which is also good - sleep can be such a time-waster. I have a ball. At the end of the day I have more energy than most people around me - their complacencies are their soporifics. I bounce around most days like Odie - you know, from Garfield.

I am proud of bunches of things in South Africa too. Every time I think of leaving, I end up with a stream of cons consisting of things I would find hard to give up here. How come you are chained to Texas, and in the Land of the Free, of all places? Terribly ironic.
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