A friend who lives in France. who by European racial standards is biracial, told me that travel is not something black South Africans do.
My friend is married to a South African and, according to his observations, we like to party and stay in one place. In his opinion, our idea of travel is driving down to the local Cubana.
As insulting as this might sound to others, I’m sort of on the fence about his view. The reason is that we are, for the most part, still playing catch-up with our developed world counterparts.
Images of overweight, greedy politicians taking their mistresses or side chicks on holiday with hard-earned taxpayers’ money still dominate social media, to the point that the average white person is under the impression that all people of colour enjoy holidays that are funded by the gravy train. This isn’t the case.
Black people live in the depths of black tax and suffer from tremendous guilt when it comes to supporting immediate and even extended family. This isn’t an excuse, it’s our sad reality. We also love the lavish lifestyle and often find ourselves spending large amounts of cash on holidays that could be better used buying gogo’s groceries or paying outstanding bills.
For a black person going on a holiday and saving up for it is really a very deeply emotional experience. A part of you wants to boast about how marvellous and incredible your life is, and how brave you are for daring to explore unseen territories.
However, the other part knows that once you post those colourful images of the hotel room, exotic meal, the business class flights … you are done.
Suddenly, cousins you never hear from are calling and nagging for rent money because, in their eyes, you are wealthy. It’s really an uncomfortable position to be in, having to explain to your family where you got the money.
Few people in your family will understand that you may live on three months of pilchards just to afford that one week’s getaway in a three-star hotel stay in Thailand, which is one of the few places South Africans can still afford to visit.
Nor will they believe that your fabulous matching three-piece designer luggage set is just a really good knock-off from China Mall.
Most of all, no one knows that you sacrificed months of girl’s nights and weekend pizza just to save for your holiday. There’s also the additional low banking fees account that needs to be opened in order to pay for shopping sprees, daily snacks and maybe even some club hopping while you’re on holiday.
There’s no glamour having to ride the low-cost and extremely dodgy Golden Arrow bus to the Durban July or hanging out at Park Station guarding your luggage with your life and a small can of pepper spray. But your holiday picture won’t show this.
Yes, for black people, especially unmarried women, travel is a definite luxury that probably only happens once every two years. But the months of saving and the life lessons that come with an “eat, pray, love” holiday adventure are well worth the sacrifices.
Just make sure you block all family from your social media accounts if you are going to post your holiday pics!