So, these guys turn up with AK47s and offer me protection ...

Life in South Africa, with 'Cisce' switches and HAAAARRRD driving tests


Death of Nelson Mandela - the aftermath

"The country was in mourning. I've never felt anything like it"

The Register: It looks like you were in South Africa for the death of Nelson Mandela. What was that like?

Lawrence Hunt: I wasn't just in South Africa. On December 6, 2013 (the day after his death), I was in Mthatha (mm-ta-ta), Mandela's home town and the royal city of the Madiba clan. People were wailing and sobbing in the streets, holding his picture. A group of students marched, holding his picture blown up huge onto a poster with "Never Forget" in Xhosa underneath.

Our job in that town was cancelled and we were told to come back to Queenstown "where it would be safe".

I'm not sure how the rest of the world thinks, but white South Africans, especially Afrikaners, are convinced that 1994 would have led to a bloody pogrom against white people if not for Nelson Mandela, and my boss was sure that now Madiba had died, Zuma and his fellows would launch their attack. Of course it was nonsense, but we're back at that racial tension issue again.

The whole country was in mourning. I've never felt anything like it. People I'd speak to, who before had had nothing but contempt and mistrust of black people, spoke about him like he was a saint. [Hopefully, there were no ill-advised selfies - David Cameron and Barack Obama please take note].

It was a time everyone could come together. Suddenly, both sides had something they could agree on - a great man had died, and we were all poorer for his loss.

Can you top Lawrence's tale? It'll take some doing, but we're always on the hunt for more expat tales, even if they don't involve AK47s and Nelson Mandela. Let us know of your adventures by dropping me an email. ®


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021