analysisBy Orkula Shaagee
After spending 21 days criss-crossing South African cities of Nelspruit, Rustenburg, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg, our reporter, who was in the Nelson Mandela's country for the 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, brings to you some of the behind the scene stories that were not reported.
Right from my first point of call at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, the reception was warm.
Based on recent diplomatic row between South Africa and Nigeria, following the deportation of some Nigerians at the airport in South Africa over yellow card related issues, I was expecting a tough reception at the airport, but it turned out to be a warm and friendly reception, as I spent less than five minutes getting clearance from the immigration and other security agencies.
In fact, in all the four cities I stayed and Pretoria where I only spent a few hours on transit, the people were receptive and exhibited a high level of friendliness to visitors.
However, some of the South Africans I interacted with were blunt in pointing out that Nigerians were noted for engaging in fraudulent practices, a situation they said made every South African to be afraid of having anything to do with Nigerians.
After the South African national football team, Bafana Bafana crashed out of the tournament in the quarter final stage, the South Africans adopted Nigeria as their national team, with only a few against the Super Eagles.
I remember the day we played Cote d'Ivoire in the quarter final at Rustenburg, a young man, who was supporting Cote d'Ivoire at the initial stage, retreated in the second half to give his support to Nigeria when he discovered that many of his countrymen were in support of the Nigerian side.
Excellent roads network
South Africa has good network of roads, as the quality of roads I saw while criss-crossing the former Apartheid enclave was a beauty to watch.
It was the same story from Nelspruit to Rustenburg through Pretoria where I spent seven hours on the road, and the close to eight hour trip by road from Johannesburg to Durban; making one to wonder the magic used in making the roads solid.
I was made to understand that as part of efforts to ensure that the roads remain smooth and without potholes, the municipalities have instituted awards for persons who report to the authorities a pothole on any of the roads.
Despite spending over 30 hours on the South African roads, I only came across an accident scene once, and that was the night I was returning from the Super Eagles team camp at Milpack Hotel in Johannesburg.
South Africa is not an oil producing country but it does not lack the commodity, as all filing stations are stock with the essential commodity.
The restaurants in South Africa are dominated by light foods, as the Spas and Super Spas only provides chips, chickens, fish, soft drinks and juice drinks.
But there are few restaurants owned by foreigners, particularly Nigerians where solid food can be found. Besides Durban, where I spent one day, Nigerians who travelled for the Nations Cup enjoyed Nigerians dishes available in restaurants owned by Igbos and Yorubas in Nelspruit, Rustenburg and Randburg in Johannesburg.
It was therefore not difficult getting eba, pounded yam, semovita with egusi, ogbono, draw and white soup; as can be found in the Nigerian cities of Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna and host of others.
The major food crop in South Africa is maize. As you travel around the country, one observes cultivation large maize farms dotting both sides of the roads.
Besides using local foods, maize is used in South Africa by the brewery companies for production of beer and other drinks, while the bread and other smaller companies use it as flour for their daily production.
Politics and economy
While the political power of South Africa is in the hands of the blacks since the advent of democratic rule in the 90s, the economic power still resides with the white, who employs the blacks to do the jobs.
The Chinese are the recent entrants into the South African economic sector, with a few big malls, spas and production industries.
The South African economy is strong, with most of the major global players establishing their presence in the country. The country's currencies, rand and cedi are exchanged at 80 to a dollar, unlike the Nigerian naira that is currently exchanged at 157 to a dollar.
Most of the world automobile companies like Mercedes Benz, Kia, Tata, Ford, Peugeot and Toyota among others have opened shops here, selling used and pre-owned cars.
Security is one of the paramount priorities of the South African government, as the police and other security agencies in the country mount surveillance all day and night to forestall security breach.
Though the security operatives in South Africa are not as visible as those in Nigeria, they appear to have their eyes in every nooks and cranny of the country.
I remember the day I arrived Johannesburg from Rustenburg with Ishaku Kigbu of Leadership Newspaper, after checking into our hotel, we went out to look for a Nigerian food alongside Kunle Oyewusi of Ogun Radio and Television; and immediately we left our hotel, the policemen in a van accosted us and asked for our papers, which we provided before they allowed us to go.
We were shocked at the development, since we were not the only black people on the street, but we were later made to understand that it is their daily routine to flush out illegal immigrants from the from the country.
I had a personal experience of how well organized the security operatives work in South Africa and the vibrancy of the security operatives in the country, when on the day Nigeria was to play her second group C match against Zambia, I and Mr Asuelimen Osasuyi of the National Pilot went to the Riverside Mall to sent our stories for the day, and while we were leaving the business centre, I lost my complimentary ticket for the match.
I immediately reported the matter to the security men at the Mall, who promised to use the CCTV to track down the person that picked it. The security personnel collected my phone number and promised to get back to me later. It did not take more than 15 minutes when he called me back to come and collect my ticket.
Crime wave in South Africa, I was told has reduced to a minimal level, at least during the period of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations championship.
There was no major case of robbery or theft, but there were few minor cases.
Rustenburg, where Nigeria played her last group C match against Ethiopia is noted for criminal activities. The people her go to bed early, as a result of this act, while the police patrol the streets all-day to arrest the satiation.
A Nigerian living in Rustenburg once said in the day time, you can walk the streets a freeman, but in the night, you can be attacked and your property taken away before onlookers.
Social life and hospitality
Social life in South Africa is on the high, just as the level of moral decadence is equally on the high. In all the cities visited, there are big posters on the streets from medical doctors advertising for abortion and pennies enlargement.
There are a great number of parks, casinos and night clubs where young people and the elders go for fun seeking and entertainment after the day's work. Many visitors, who indulge in night clubbing found home in South Africa during the Nations Cup fiesta.
There are good number young girls, most of whom have children in their teens, who are ready for an outing with a man on a first meeting. In fact, I read in one of the South African newspapers while I still there that that primary school girls under ten years are South Africa do get pregnant.
Therefore, it is not a surprise story or a crime to hear an unmarried lady tell you that she has two or more kids.
A South African driver ferrying us from Omega Guest House in Nelspruit to Stayeasy Hotel, where the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board members and staff were accommodated, told us that South African men are lazy and don't like working while the women are cheap and prefer to look out for men to provide their needs.
He said a South African lady would be ready to go out with a man she met for the first time in her life time, just for the man to part with a fortune.
Religion and others
Religious worshipping in South Africa is at its lowest ebb, compare to what is obtained in Nigeria, as churches and mosques are not easily seen on the streets of Nelspruit, Rustenburg, Pretoria, Durban and Johannesburg.
Also, throughout my stay in South Africa, I never held any shout from any quarter in the name of a pastor preaching to his congregation; not event a shout of an Imam calling for prayers.
I was told that the few churches in South Africa were imported into the country by some Nigerians. Mr Chris, a Yoruba man and owner of Omega Guest House where I lodged throughout my stay in Nelspruit is a pastor with the Redeem Christian Church of God, but you could hardly notice it, except for a few restrictions placed in the hotel.
An average South African is contented with what he has and would not go the extra mile to amass wealth. From my interaction with a few of them, I came to understand that they tell the truth.
But poverty exists on large scale in the country, particularly outside the municipalities, as the down trodden lives in shanties and make-shift house built with zinc and woods.
In the Orlando area of Soweto, I saw family members living in a single room made from zinc and woods.