How to Travel by Minibus Taxi at FIFA 2010

How to Travel by Minibus Taxi at FIFA 2010

If you’re planning on visiting South Africa one thing that could make getting around that much easier is traveling by minibus taxi. After you’ve descended from the skies, caught a shuttle or ordinary taxi to your lodgings, getting around town is done fastest and cheapest by using minibus taxis. That’s because the country, generally, does not have a very good inner city transport infrastructure.

Surviving a Minibus Taxi Ride

Minibus taxis are typically white Toyota transporters with bright livery, and sometimes with thumpingly loud hip hop or kwaito (local black) music playing. They are mostly used by daily commuters from the black township or ghetto dormitory areas. But for surviving a minibus taxi ride there are a few things worth knowing: first is that there is a complex set of hand and finger signs to indicate to a taxi driver either your specific destination or the distance you with to travel. Some are universal, while others are very local. For example, hold your index finger up and it means you wish to go to town (the centre). Point it down and it means you want a local taxi to go somewhere close. This applies all over the country.

Okay, that’s a local joke: so where to? Soweto. But it gets more complicated. For instance, if you wanted to go to Diepsloot to the north west of Joburg, you’d make a wavy motion with your hand to indicate the notoriously bad roads there. Fourways is four fingers held up, Thembisa is a T, as in time out, Cosmo City in Soweto is a cupped hand C. And so on.

However, for the foreign mzungus waving soccer paraphernalia, the drivers will be much more tolerant. Just wave one down, anywhere (there are few designated stopping places, but traffic lights are best), and they are sure to stop for you.

Getting off is another matter. Unless you know you’re in a taxi on a bespoke route, for example headed for one of the stadiums, you have to shout to the driver where you want to get off, about 10 seconds beforehand (this is rather important). means you want to get off at the next traffic light. Or else just shout stop and the driver will stop whenever next he can.

While regular commuters are charged a set fee of around R5 or R10, depending on the distance, casual travelers can be charged randomly and tourists are always targets, even white South Africans, for making a quick extra buck. Knowing the going rate is a good starting point for negotiating. But irrespective of the fare, it’s still going to the cheapest and fastest way to get somewhere.

Other than in the stadium crowds, catching a minibus taxi is the closest you’ll come to mixing with the locals. It’s a vibrant and very African experience.

Top 10 classics to look out for when touring South Africa

Top 10 classics to look out for when touring South Africa

World Cup its been and gone, but there are still reasons to come to South Africa!OK, so the whole world came to South Africa for the first ever Fifa World Cup on African soil. Now that the dust has settled there are still many good reasons to come to this beautiful country warm sunny days, outstanding scenery, and a mutli cultural welcome from one of the most diverse populations in the world.

When people come to this country they might want to sample some of the really South African things that make our lives here perhaps unique and certainly more interesting.

To help visitors to South Africa get a feel of what makes us so different, I have put together this list of 10 essentially and uniquely South African foods and other products.

For South Africans there are some things that define our lives as South African because their presence in our lives is almost unquestioned. The following are some of my favourites. It is a personal list and I make no claims for either completeness nor originality. There are also quite a few that I have left off the list so as not to make it too lengthy. Things like Rooibos tea and potjiekos, mngqusho and mahewu, mpokoqo and amasi. OK so you don’t know what these are and maybe they are subjects for another Hub.

For most South Africans the items on this list are essential parts of daily life. As people in the UK will often speak of a Hoover when they mean a vacuum cleaner we in South Africa will often refer simply to “Mrs Ball’s” when we mean chutney or “Klippies” when we mean brandy. Why these names are so iconic will be explained as we go along.

This is not to say, unfortunately, that these things will always be around. Some quintessentially South African things have already in my lifetime disappeared, not without a trace, though. Things like a “tickey”, which originally referred to the old silver threepenny piece which was very small, but which survives in our language in two ways: a small person is often referred to as a “tickey” and when we want to describe a car’s turning circle we often say “it can turn on a tickey”, meaning that it has a very small turning circle. There was for many years a famous circus clown in South Africa who called himself “Tickey” on account of his diminutive size. I’m sure many people using these terms don’t know the origin of them any more, but that’s “progress” for you!

Anyone coming to this wonderful country should, in order to get a full taste of it, at least try to find and use or eat (or drink) some of the following.

If people in the US can think of something being “as American as apple pie” then we in South Africa can think of something being “as South African as Mrs Ball’s”! You might find things similar to these I present here but the South Africanness of these is clear, and unforgettable. So come to our great country and enjoy (and crime, while it is a problem, is not “out of control”as some would allege).

South Africans of all races are noted for their hospitality and friendliness. And the following are essential ingredients of that hospitality.

Disclaimer: I suppose I should tell everyone that I am not in any way connected with, nor am I paid (yet?!) by the manufacturers of, any of the products in this Hub.