If you ever visit a different country or some far away place, feel free to take advantage of the wanna-be tour guides who are taxi drivers to get an understanding of the area or country that you are visiting. They will tell you the nice places to visit and what foods you might wonna try. They will give you a breakdown of the weather patterns in different cities. They will tell you what Mzansi means.

When I reached Durban at 10minutes past 1 last Sunday, there was no one to meet me at the airport. (But don’t tell my mum that because she will sue someone. Hehe.) Turned out there was some kind of mix up and the person meant to pick me wasn’t communicated to.

The flight from Johannesburg was short and sweet. 50 minutes. The in-flight snack is what was out-of-this-world great. It tasted as good as it looked.

I don’t remember what it was called. But it made my taste buds sing.

Earlier in the day, my family had seen me off to the airport.

Bunny & Kajune on Sunday at 4:30AM. Bunny was saying "Do you know we are going out of Kenya?" Hehe. She thought the airport is out of Kenya.

My KQ  flight which was scheduled for 7:00 but delayed to half past eight “due to bad weather.”

Because I knew the name of the hotel I was going to stay I took a cab. One of those metered cabs where you pay based on time. I loved this cab because every few minutes, the driver would be called using some equipment fitted in the cab and he’d confirm how far he has gone(because it is being monitored anyway).

The taxi driver was called Ndlovu. Not NDOVU. That’s what I heard at first. lol

So, what is Mzansi? I asked Ndlovu after I had ran out of questions. He told me Mzansi means bottom. South Africa is called Mzansi because it is right at the bottom of the map of Africa.


South Africans are warm and chatty. At first glance.

Come and sit with us! Called out a group of ladies at the cafeteria yesterday. After all the “Where are you froms” and “Do you know so and sos’ one asked me if am married. I said yes. And do you have kids? I said yes, two.

“And…how long will you be here?”

“Three weeks.”

She wondered out loud if that wasn’t ‘too long’ staying away from my family if you know what I mean. We laughed it away.


Fast forward to today’s lunch time. “So what do you do in the room alone?” My new ‘friend’ asked me.

If this was Facebook I’d answer “Nkt! What do you think I do? Count my toes to see if they are ten?”

“I watch TV.”

“Oh, just TV”, she said.

Here is what I didn’t tell her:

I pray. I take long scented baths. I sing aloud. I catwalk. I think. I miss my girls. I remember their good grades and I smile. I watch TV.I rehearse my presentations with the full length mirror as my audience. I dance. I file my nails. I make coffee. I mute the TV and listen to music. I plan. I scheme. I write. I drink my coffee…


It’s winter here. I’ve got me several of those long coats they wear in movies. When clad in them, I feel like a movie star. Because of my dreadlocks, they are speaking to me in Zulu. They think I am one of them. I am home in Mzansi or so I think. That’s until my what-do-you-do-in-the-room-alone ‘friend’ tells me “I must take you out sometime.”

Is something wrong with that statement or am I reading too much to it? Then she adds

“Are you on Facebook?……… I’ll look you up so we can chat”


Note to self : I seriously need a PLAN for this weekend. I’d ‘go out with’ my new “friend” if I didn’t think there was something creepy about her. Maybe she’s just nice and I am the one who’s uptight. Maybe I’ll just call Ndlovu and he’ll drop me to town.

Wait, I think I know someone we went to school with, who lives in SA. I might just have a plan for the weekend after all.



18 comments for “Mzansi

  1. August 17, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Hahaha!! Mrs Mwiti this post is so hilarious! Maybe you are reading too much, go out with her and if things get ‘complicated’ you can always call Ndlovu.

    • August 17, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Thanks Murugi. Haha. Good advice. 🙂

  2. August 17, 2011 at 11:58 am

    ‘The taxi driver was called Ndlovu. Not NDOVU. That’s what I heard at first. lol’…   *chuckle*  ‘Mzansi – Bottom’ For a minute I almost had that twisted… Enjoy the travel and bring stories!

    • August 17, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      Clearly I am not the only one who got that twisted for a sec. For a moment I regretted asking… Haha

    • August 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

      Lol exactly what I almost thought when I too read Mzansi means bottom!

  3. Wembe Wa Mugumo Tree
    August 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    @Mrs Mwiti
    Thank you for this post, as always its a good read, however allow me to play devil’s advocate just for one second and support your new “facebook friend” from Mzansi-
    foreigners visitng Kenya for the first time are often puzzled when they see two men walking holding hands on our streets or even open parks….yet to us Kenyans its not unusual to see two good male friends walking hand in hand, sometimes even extended family relatives can clasp the hand of their “not so young” nephew while strolling about during a family outing
    Maybe “facebook friend” is simply being friendly the Mzansi way? end of advocacy, and do enjoy your stay there in S.Africa!

    • August 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      Yenyewe.But can you imagine another dude telling you “I’ll chat you on Facebook.” Weird, no?

  4. ptah
    August 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Mzansi fo Sho
    In KZN Zulu’s are predominant so you are more likely to be spoken to in Zulu. In Gauteng, everyone  speaks to you in their language (9 national languages in SA, excluding English and Afrikaans). To force them to switch to English, speak back to them in Swahili|Kikuyu – works like magic.
    Your dreadlock self must have a lot of company in SA…many men have dreadlocks.

    • August 17, 2011 at 9:26 pm

      Lmao* Must try that some time. Next time I am asking someone
      “Ati atia?” then I watch them n see what they do. Haha

  5. August 18, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I know what you are experiencing the winter of RSA is like no other but what we are experiencing now in Kenya is close to theirs.  What I love about this post is you talk about some critical elements that sometimes we forget at the JKIA and pick up when we return is the things that are form the base of us as individuals and shape our values.  I usually pack my Bible and Journal but to be honest I never open it because I get so carried away by the itinerary and it becomes more and more difficult to slot in a time to just spend it praying and reflecting (a routine I do when I am at home).  You have challenged me…I need to be able to do this regardless of what my schedule looks like when I travel.

    🙂 Please keep posting more stuff I enjoy reading your posts

    • August 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      It is when we spend time with ourselves that we realize the things that are important to us. The things that make us who we are. I appreciate your comment. Will do another post soon!

  6. August 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Oh, you are in SA? Travelling a lot lately I see (I am jealous). Take it easy and enjoy SA, often we interpret others’ cultures with our own cultural eyes and we are bound to sometimes misinterpret stuff. I remember when I first went to India I used to see men hold each other in a way that would raise eye brows in other quaters but later learnt that it was quite meaningless and normal in their context. If you happen to spend some time in Jo’burg, make sure you visit the Museum of Apartheid, I found it to be quite an experience

  7. Maureen Lacia
    August 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I love reading ur posts!You are a good writer!

  8. August 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    “Count my toes to see if they are ten?” That totally killed me. #dead#.  Your post made for a good read. Interesting.

  9. Sue
    September 3, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Your snack in the pic looks like a wrap

    • September 16, 2011 at 11:47 am

      It is! Now you made me hungry…..

  10. October 4, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    lol, ati i count my toes and see if they’re 10.
    good humour! 

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