Cape Town, South Africa, and Canada

I’m in Cape Town right now, and as Graham mentioned in his previous post, it’s a magical place. With its mountains and oceans (more that one!) and vineyards and beaches and cheese and seafood, it’s a most splendid city. I’m going to be here for work for one to two weeks (i.e., I have a great job).

I’m staying in a charming 100-year-old house, a bed and breakfast owned by a colleague’s accommodating in-laws. My suite even has an outdoor shower that opens up to a stunning view of Table Mountain. A morning run (which I enjoyed in the early morning sunshine of Cape Town’s long summer days) followed by a shower-with-a-view is pretty much the best way to start the day.

I like visiting South Africa because it feels like Canada in a few ways: cosmopolitan; naturally beautiful and varied; and, “new” (in that a lot of the “old” buildings are only a couple hundred years old). But it’s hard to get a real feel for the place as a visitor. It’s got a political and social texture that feels distinctly South African but that is not immediately graspable to an outsider.

Nevertheless, I’m fascinated by South Africa’s story and am very curious to see where this richly diverse country goes. Being a Sri Lankan/Canadian who now lives in Zambia with my German/Italian/Irish/Ukrainian/Canadian husband, I’m particularly curious about South Africa’s race-story. I often have to remind myself that SA has been a free and democratic country for less than 20 years old. So while there’s probably lot of storming and norming ahead, there’s also the great possibility of forming a post-racial society.

Canada is by no means perfect, but I believe we’ve done a great job of creating an incredibly tolerant and inviting society. I’m so proud of this that no matter what my ethnic background is or how long I live abroad, I will always call myself a Canadian and will always call Canada home.

Even though I know South Africa’s story isn’t and won’t be Canada’s, I still feel a strong affinity for this place. And I look forward to enjoying its warm hospitality for the next couple weeks.

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