On Saturday, I went to my shopping town to meet with some other PCVs and buy some groceries, which means I ride through about 85km of rural African landscape. We start out “deep-rural”, which is the mental picture Americans have of Africa, then go through rural Afrikaner farmland, which is like an exotic Iowa, then wind up in the First World, my shopping town of Vryburg. I decided to tweet the things I passed by yesterday, so I’ll copy my tweet-a-thon here, so you can have a mental picture of what MY part of deep rural South African is like. Breaking the stereotypes, yeah!
-Several Afrikaner farms, with corn fields yellowing in the crisp fall air.
-Cowpies in the dirt road.
-Donkeys in the dirt road.
-Waist-high anthills poking through the waving bushveld grasses.
-Short, shrubby trees and innumerable thorn bushes.
-Rusty, barb-wire fences surrounding empty grazing fields.
-A woman emerging from the shacks where farmhands live.
-A small purple cross on the side of the tar road.
-One massive tree and one small hill.
-A windmill water pump.
-A manure pile twice my height.
-A fancy braai area in the middle of nowhere.
-A street light…in a field.
-A dumptruck full of people and furniture.
-Afrikaans signs, which means I am in Vryburg!
Essentially, I live in the heart of Afrikaner farmland. So a lot of the rural area has been developed into farms or grazing fields. However, those stand rights alongside the stereotypical African “bush”, which is called veld or bushveld here. It’s crazy to see modern cornfields next to the wild bushveld….but that’s where I live! Nearer to my village it is more veld and less farms, but as we approach Vryburg, the opposite becomes true.
So, rethink your mental picture of Africa. It’s not all the Lion King!