Friday, November 19, 2010

Culture Chaos II

I feel like I don't have a culture.

Not a singular one anyway. Sure, I was born Zimbabwean. But what are Zimbabweans anyway?

I am a mixture of everything.

I am feeling somewhat amused by culture these days, and am amazed at how much it affects and influences who we are and the the decisions we make.

Perhaps I am able to see this more clearly because I have been ripped out of my culture and thrown into others a few times. Being in Korea was so freeing – there was nothing that made me feel compelled to wear frilly baby doll dresses like the Korean women, nor bows and ties etc ( I kid you not, stop laughing!)

Growing up as a kid, driving into South Africa on holiday every couple of years was a BIG deal. Ask any Zimbabwean. The first stop for us was always Messina, and without fail I would buy a cream soda can of soft drink, my brother a raspberry one, my mom a lemon twist and my dad a coke. And oh the chocolates! Do you know, we'd buy a couple of bars of different chocolates and then when back in Zim after our holiday, my mom would cut up one bar into four pieces and we'd each have some – that was SUCH a treat! Yip, fizzy drinks in cans and chocolates were a real treat, at least to us!

Moving here 5 years ago was funny. Although I went to university here, I never noticed a big culture difference until South Africa became my next home and returning home was not an option.

South Africa is a lot more materialistic than Zimbabwe - there is a larger disposable income and also just quite frankly more shops and things that are pleasing to the eye. Do you know, Harare, the capital city, had no malls until a few years ago – really. They built them all when I was a teenager I guess. And they're huge sprawling malls that are uncovered – the sky is the ceiling. So if it rains, you just have to run between the shops! If you drive down any street in Zim, especially now, you will see LOADS of people walking alongside the road (that's partly due to no petrol therefore no cars and high unemployment) – but what struck me on a recent return visit to Zim was how simply these people on the side of the road are dressed. Here, on the road past my house, the people that work along it to work pay way more attention to fashion than I do! (Not that it's hard mind you, it just isn't something that has played a large part in my life!)

Another thing that tickled me pink was the white crockery. We sold everything in Zimbabwe before we came down here as we couldn't afford to freight it here, and thought we'd just buy everything again here. I remember thinking how plain and boring all the white stuff was – there was so little colour, so few options if you didn't want WHITE!

But here's the thing...clearly this South African culture has worn off on me, because now – I own white plates! Groan!

But it got me thinking on a larger scale – how much the culture of where we live affects us. This South African culture has rubbed off on me. I feel the obsession with fashion rubbing off on me as well.

I know some Americans who have recently married South Africans, and the differences they face are huge – such vastly contrasting approaches to life. It also made me think though, about our culture as Christians and the world much have we allowed the world to erode who we really are? How different are we really to the world? Are we different at all?

food for thought.....

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