Today I went to a church. In The Netherlands I’m not going to church. In the last couple of years I’ve only been sometimes to the church during Christmas. The church I went to today is a mixed church, it isn’t only for the coloured, whites or blacks. For this church it’s about creating a community no matter your colour. It’s a habit that people go to church on Sundays in South Africa. The first thing I noticed when we arrived is the warm welcome. People greet you nicely and you can get some coffee. Apparently it’s common at this church to grab a cup of coffee and meet people before the service begins.
I spoke to a local friend from the person that brought me to church and it became a quite interesting conversation during which he told me that he dropped out of school, did some ‘bad’ things along the way and has a regular job now. As I understood it he earns enough money to pay for the rent. He doesn’t want to go back into crime and closed that chapter in his life but because the earning via an honest job isn’t that much it sometimes really tempting to grab back to crime.
After a cup of coffee the service started, also this is quite different then we are used to in The Netherlands. For the first half our or so there is a lot of music being played by the band on stage. People get excited, clapping their hands. You could see that some people experience it as some kind of relief. After the singing the priest starts to talk.
In my opinion in The Netherlands the service is most of the time a bit old fashioned. But during this service the preacher takes a little part of the bible and translates it to today’s setting. He makes jokes, but also tries to make his stories easy to understand. He compared for example the ‘census’ that happens here in South Africa to the a part of the bible where people go home for christmas.
In South Africa every couple of years people from the government go by the houses and ask people to fill in this form that for example states how many people are living at their address, their age so the government can create statistics about the population of South Africa. There is no real population register in South Africa, that’s why the government organises the census. This is because some people can’t read/write and others don’t register a new born child because the father of the child is someone within the family. According to the priest God also does a sort of census when people go home for Christmas.
Another example is the comparison to the auto correct function on your smartphone. You probably had the experience yourself that when sending someone a message on your smartphone the auto correct changes some words so if your not careful you sent very weird messages. The priest compared this to a section in the bible that says people can start over. There is a sort of definite auto correct function in the bible.
Both comparisons (and maybe I couldn’t write them down exactly the way they were told) are easy to understand for people.
When I got back home it was time to just relax a bit, I read quite a few pages of the book ‘Age of Context’. It’s about the future of technology, first I started to read it in The Netherlands but most of the time other things came up. So when flying to South Africa guess what was in my hand luggage. 🙂
During the whole weekend we had no internet, so on Sunday evening my roommate and I walked to a club in the neighbourhood that has a free WiFi access point. In South Africa you buy a voucher for internet access but you need to activate it via the internet. So if you don’t have any internet well, then you can’t activate the voucher. When we asked the waitress for a WiFi access code she provided us with a really long number that she had on her phone, we tried and tried but her code didn’t work. She then phoned the IT guy from the club.
Interesting to see is that the meaning of free WiFi access isn’t the same as in The Netherlands. Free WiFi often means that there is a access point from an internet provider. In this case it was cell phone provider and you need to sent a SMS to a certain number containing the words “free” and your e-mail address. Then you receive a voucher code that provides free internet access for 30 minutes. We tried to activate the voucher as quickly as possible within the 30 minute limit. Because we first didn’t knew how to activate it on the website of Neotel, it felt a bit like mission impossible but we made it!
Coming back home, the internet was activated again and it was time to see what we’ve missed in the online world.