A Day for Two Flags
Every year for the past five or six years, I have watched the Fourth of July parade go down my street, had a barbecue, gone to the fireworks with my friends and all that jazz. Today, instead of celebrating American culture, I celebrated Xhosa culture.
On a tour of a market, at a place selling herbs, we were taught about an herb that chases away bad dreams and another that clears out your system. Then there was an herb that you were supposed to put under your tongue if you were ready to propose to somebody or when you walked by somebody whom you wanted to "get with." On another stop, we learned about apartheid and the history of South Africa; at another, we watched a man scrape all the meat off a cow's head.
The time we didn't spend on the tour was spent learning South African songs, games, and words. One of the girls on the New Brighton City Lads team (whom we played against earlier in the trip) started teaching us different clicks of the tongue, prompting massive poor attempts on our part, an extreme amount of laughing, and an ounce of spit out of every mouth.
Next she taught us a tongue twister. I am proud to say that I am the only one who was able to remember the sentence. The sentence, which means something along the lines of a porcupine was at the edge of a cliff and then rolled over on its back and slit its throat, has, by my counting,10 clicks in it.
Being teenage girls, it didn't take long for us to start asking about name-calling and curse words. Among other things, we are now able to say the words egg, foot, knee, brain, butt, head, and you are not right in the mind.
Originally, I thought we would be spending the Fourth of July explaining to South Africans various American traditions and songs. But then I realized that in South Africa, our culture is already everywhere -- in the music, on television, in the restaurants, in the clothes. We are the ones who need to learn about their culture, from their language to their food and rituals.
It's not like we didn't celebrate. Our coach Ian did remember to buy sparklers and we squawked the national anthem together at one point. But as our cake showing two flags demonstrated, this wasn't a day only for American pride
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