South Africa

Roger’s Multi-Cultural Family Living in Cape Town


Roger is a Kenyan currently living in Cape Town, South Africa as the proud father and husband in a truly multi cultural family. His wife is Austrian, and sons were born in Botswana and Scotland. Read more about Roger’s experiences raising children in the beautiful city of Cape Town, and what surprises people most about his home country of Kenya.


Tell us a bit about yourself. How would your friends or family describe you?

I’m from Nairobi in Kenya but have not lived there for almost fifteen years. I currently live in Cape Town and I’m an IT Professional working at the University of Cape Town. My family and I have moved around a bit over the years and moved here a couple of years ago from Edinburgh. We have two cheerful little boys and we hope to stay in Cape Town for the medium term at least. It’s very nice here.

I like simple things and perhaps might be described as a simple person with an open mind towards most things. I’m sure that a penchant for good ale would be added into a description of me at some point.

Can you tell us a little about what inspired your move from Kenya to South Africa?

I left Kenya in 1998 to go and study in South Africa. I quite enjoyed Johannesburg and ended up getting a job and staying there for four years before moving on to Botswana and then the UK and eventually ending up back to South Africa again ten years later. It has been quite an amazing period in my life during which, and most significantly, I got married and we’ve been blessed with two lovely boys.

If you would describe yourself as multi-cultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why. What culture do your kids most associate with?

Though it might not be very obvious to my friends, I’m very proud of my culture. I come from the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya but do not speak the language very well. Why? I really can’t say. It’s just one of those things that baffle everyone including my parents who have other children who speak it flawlessly. I understand it perfectly, but the words just don’t roll of my tongue the way they should. I’ve been practicing for many years but have finally resigned myself to the fact that eyebrows will always be raised whenever I try and speak it.

Multi-cultural? I would say yes. My first born son was born in Botswana where we lived for five years, and his brother born in Scotland a few years later. We really loved living in both those countries and I would say absorbed a lot of the local culture and still have very good friends there. Oh, and did I mention that my wife is Austrian?

My kids are what I recently discovered to be third culture kids where they don’t identify with either parents culture and adopt amalgamate cultures from outside where either parent was born.

Can you describe a typical day for you?

When you have little children, there’s no such thing as a typical day. The morning always begins explosively with a an ever varying mixture of drama and emotions stretching from wet beds to lost cardigans as we attempt to herd our charges through the morning motions of getting them ready for school. A more complete description of a typical weekend for us can be found in this piece I wrote a while back. Are weekends with kids fun?

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

Cape Town is a very beautiful city that has endless opportunities for having a good time. It’s a bit like going on a beach holiday and never leaving. Having to work during the day does little to dull that feeling. Even as I write this, I’m looking out the window at Table Mountain and thinking that I will never tire of the view. Even the traffic is nowhere nearly as bad as some places I’ve lived in. It takes me twenty minutes to drive home from work.

The absolute worst thing about this place is the latent racism. I still get stared at when I go into the local pub and I’m consistently the only person of colour. I’m guessing that it will take a couple more generations to see the apartheid hangover finally end. I don’t let it bother me too much though and I go where I want, when I want, and people eventually just get on with their lives.

What books or films would you recommend someone who’d like to know more about your country?

Barack Obama’s book Dreams From my Father has a section about his experiences in Kenya that capture many aspects of our culture very well. Excellent book that. The recent movie The Third Grader is not too bad, though it only captures a small aspect of the whole culture. There’s a lot more to Kenya than that. A book that I’m currently reading – One day I will write about this place by Binyavanga Wainania – quite nicely captures my experience of Kenyan culture.

What language or languages do you use on a day to day basis?

I mostly speak English and get to speak Swahili and some Sheng whenever I meet my Kenyan friends. I very rarely speak Kikuyu. I listen to German being spoken in my house all the time. It’s almost as if I’m not there. I understand it quite well though, but shy away from speaking it unless cornered. My three year old is already better at it than I am. 

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

Kenya has a very vibrant night life and a populace that loves being in it. It is my opinion that it is because Kenyans are very friendly people who love their beer and love to laugh.

I think this always catches a first time visitor to Nairobi by surprise. In my opinion, that was once called humble, it is the party capital of the world.

May 11, 2012 3 comments

Street fashion on five continents

Thanks to the internet you don’t need to travel to see what people are wearing in other parts of the world. Here are five sites to take in the different street styles on five continents.

North America: New York, USA

The king of street fashion blogs for many people is The Sartorialist. He has been photographing stylish New Yorkers since 2005, and The Sartorialist is now a design influence in its own right.

Europe: Poland

Pretty and stylish Lula Street shows that Poles have plenty of individuality when it comes to dressing.

Africa: Johannesburg, South Africa

Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko lives and works in Johannesburg. She featured young South Africans from the streets of Johannesburg in her series “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”. See some of the portraits on Afronova.

Asia: Tokyo, Japan

We’ve written before about the original fashions on display in Tokyo. But different districts of Tokyo have a distinctive style of their own. On Tokyo street style you can find fashions from Harajuku, Shibuya, Omotesando, Daikanyama and Ginza.

South America: Buenos Aires, Argentina

On the Corner shows colourful and alternative fashion found on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Agostina, a 23 year old cook, from On the Corner

Do you have a favourite site for street fashion that we haven’t included here? Share it with us in the comments.

Read More:
Ever tried making your own Mongolian boots?
Street style from Finland
Fashion freedom in Japan

September 15, 2009 Comments disabled

Busy South African mum

Harassed Mum is written by LauraKim, a free spirit from Pretoria, South Africa.

She writes about her busy life as a single mum who is also studying. Exams finished this week so we would also like to say congratulations!

Not too busy to stop caring about others though – The South African blogosphere is currently campaigning to help out their friend who needs help for her son and LauraKim is one of the main organisers.

Thanks a lot to Louisa (previously featured in 123 South Africa on Blogs of the World) for taking the time to suggest some of her favourite South African blogs. This was one of them and we hope to feature more in future.

Now let’s hear from you. Do you think being a mother in South Africa sounds different to your country, or are there many things the same?

Read more:

African blogs from Blogs of the World
Vegan in Mauritius: an original food blog

June 11, 2009 4 comments

123 South Africa!

123 Blog Myself is written by Louisa who lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She’s about to start a new job, a reminder that life in South Africa is not an endless round of Braais (South African barbeques). Although the braai does get mentioned quite often…

123 Blog Myself is a lively account of life in South Africa. Louisa writes that she enjoys her cat, friends and the outdoors and it shows in the blog. She also enjoys seeing blog visitors from other parts of the world so why not head over and say hello?

April 22, 2009 2 comments