File picture: Reuters/Shaun Best
File picture: Reuters/Shaun Best

9 unspoken rules in South Africa: Do you follow all of them?

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Nov 8, 2021

Share this article:

South Africa has a few unspoken rules in our everyday life that we somehow just know. However, if you are not aware of them or you would like a reminder, we list nine from Reddit users to get you started:

Now-now and just now

Reddit user F1_Guy said “Learn the difference between ’now-now’, and ’just now’.”

Yes, there is a huge difference. If you say you will do something ’now-now’, you will be expected to do it immediately. Saying 'just now’ will give you some time. If you say “I will do the dishes now-now”, what the next person hears is that you will do it this instant. If you say “I will do the dishes just now”, it means you will laze around and do them in an hour or so.

Koesister and koeksister

Reddit user Youdontspeakforme said: “Never confuse a koesister for a koeksister” – one of the best pieces of advice you can ever get. As dragonic87 noted, koesister is pronounced koesieste. The koeksister (with the k) is plaited, deep-fried and then dipped into a cold sugar syrup. It has a crispy exterior. The koesister is a Cape Malay dish and is usually flavoured with cinnamon, cardamom and mixed spice.

Braai etiquette

We as South Africans love our braai. But there are unspoken rules. Stu_Thom4s said “Don’t touch someone else's braai unless you're invited to do so.” While plasticLawChair warned people to not bring chicken breast fillets to a braai. There have also been several users saying to never come to a braai empty-handed (if you don’t bring, you don’t eat.)

How to find your car guard

Car guards are found often in South Africa, but also in a number of other African countries. They find parking spots for cars as well as ensure the safety of cars. And who doesn’t love their bright smiles and conversation? User @arbstrakzak said it perfectly: “Making eye contact with a car guard is a binding contract for car guarding services.”

How drivers thank each other

There is nothing like quite like two drivers communicating with each other using their lights. After all, it’s good manners. As @Initial-Plane561 said: “Also using your hazards to say thank you when driving. When I moved to the UK I was surprised they don't say thanks when driving.” It’s worth noting that the “thank you” can also be acknowledged.

Warning others of a traffic cop

It seems we have a number of rules on the road, none of which appears to be in the K53. Our next unspoken role is warning fellow road users of a traffic cop. @scruffymann dished this advice: “If you see a speed cop, flash your lights to warn your fellow South Africans.” Others agreed and several Reddit users advised the same thing.

Joining groups

I am sure we have all been in a position where we join a group of people, but we feel too awkward to say hi (my life hack is to join with someone, try it sometime). Well, it’s considered rude to not say hello. DoubleDot7: “If you join a group of people who are talking, it's considered rude if you don't interrupt them with a greeting.” Another user, spicysnakelover, recounted a story abouttheir art teacher, saying they were reprimanded for “being rude and ignoring everyone and not saying hello” when they sat down in a group’s company.

Oom and Tannie/Uncle and Aunty

In South Africa, we have many ooms and tannies and uncles and aunties – but they aren’t our relatives. We call people these names as a sign of respect.

crabbypoopiepants said: “Your oom and tannie might not be your relatives. Everyone 10 years older than you is an ’oom’ or ’tannie’. It’s a show of respect.

But @zeedinstein0 warned to be careful who you say it to, adding: “I know people in Cape Town don’t like to be called oom or tannie if they are mostly English-speaking people.”

Don’t be a ...

The last and most important unspoken is to not be a*******. While this is not exclusive to South Africa, it’s important that we all just be kind to whomever, whenever we can.

IOL

Share this article: