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Published: October 27th 2008
The countdown until I return home is now under a month, and I can’t believe how fast the semester has gone. I’m looking forward to the cool, fall weather in the U.S. South Africa is heading into the summer months and while many of you might be jealous to know that I’ve been wearing shorts and t-shirts for the past week, I’ve always preferred the cool fall weather over the heat.
To borrow a phrase from Greg Easterbrook, an ESPN.com columnist, the “Christmas Creep Up” has hit South Africa too. I’m sure that stores in the U.S already have their Christmas decorations out, and malls are hastily setting up the platforms for Santa Clause. In previous years, radio station 100.3 WNIC in Detroit started playing Christmas carols 24/7 on November 1, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re playing them again as I write. Stores here had Christmas stuff up two weeks ago, even before Halloween, and it is weird to see Christmas sales alongside summer sales as well. There’s something about Christmas trees and beach umbrellas that just seems out of place, kind of like how I’ve never been a fan of The Beach Boy’s “Little Saint Nick” Christmas
carol. The Beach Boys are a summer band who sing about surfing, girls and sunshine. When they sing about Santa, it’s like if Eminem were to perform in The Sound of Music; it just seems out of place.
But without further ado, here are the answers to my South Africa final exam. The answers are in CAPS, and I’ve provided a little explanation with each one.
1) Who was the recently ousted South African president?
B: THABO MBEKI. Mbeki resigned in September after his party, the ANC, recalled him and basically refused to support him in Parliament. Say what you want about the U.S political parties, but at least their disagreements never lead to something this extreme. Zuma is currently the head of the ANC and is essentially a shoe-in for the presidency in the 2009 South African elections. Obama is the U.S President-elect, although if he were to visit South Africa, people would bow before him and let him walk on their backs like Xerxes in 300. Mandela was the first president of a democratic South Africa in 1994.
2) During my semester, I climbed one of the highest peaks in Cape Town. What is this peak’s name?
C: DEVIL’S PEAK. Devil’s Peak is over 3,000 feet tall and is arguably the most prominent landmark in the Cape region. Dante’s Peak was a 1997 volcano movie starring Pierce Brosnan. Pride Rock is the name of Simba’s home in The Lion King, and to my knowledge, Nelson Mandela’s Peak doesn’t exist.
3) What is the name of the famous island where “Shark Week” was filmed?
A: SEAL ISLAND. I went shark diving in the renowned “Shark Alley” region, and the great whites don’t live there year round. Rather, Shark Alley and Seal Island are essentially rest stops for the sharks to pull off and eat during their swim around the world. Think of Seal Island as the sharks’ equivalent of a McDonald’s or one of those joint Wendy’s/Tim Horton’s rest stops on the Ohio Turnpike. Amity Island is the name of the island in Jaws, Isla Nublar is the name of the island where Jurassic Park was located and to my knowledge, Nelson Mandela Island doesn’t exist.
4) What is the name of the castle located in the city of Cape Town?
B: CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE. The castle, which I consider more of a fort, was built by the Dutch in the mid 1600’s and is the oldest building in South Africa. Hogwarts is the name of the castle where Harry Potter goes to school, Cinderella’s castle is a tourist attraction in Disney World, and to my knowledge Nelson Mandela’s castle doesn’t exist.
5) “Rafiki” means this in Swahili.
B: FRIEND. The next time you call someone Rafiki, they may think you’re insulting them, but you’re really just calling them a friend. Rafiki was a baboon-type monkey in the Lion King and was a loyal friend to Simba. To my knowledge, Rafiki does not mean Nelson Mandela in any other language
6) South Africa is famous for the “Big 5.” The “Big 5” consist of:
A: ELEPHANT, BUFFALO, LEOPARD, RHINO,LION. Maybe it’s just my Americanized way of thinking, but the buffalo and leopard don’t immediately come to mind when I think of Africa. I usually think of a giraffe or zebra right away. Charizard, Venusaur, Blastoise, Pikachu and Jigglypuff are Pokemon, and the five individuals are prominent South Africans: Mandela being South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994, Player is a 9-time major golf champion, Theron is an Academy Award-winning actress, Matthews is the lead singer of The Dave Matthews Band, and du Toit is an Olympic swimmer.
7) What was the name of the rapid that caused our entire raft to flip on the Zambezi River?
C: OBLIVION. There were 15 class IV or V rapids on the Zambezi, and Oblivion is the one that did our raft in. Commercial Suicide was so big that we had to carry our raft around it. Oh F--- is what we yelled approaching every rapid, and to my knowledge, there isn’t a rapid named after Nelson Mandela.
8) Young lions are born with these on their paws:
B: SPOTS. Young lions are born with a bunch of spots on their paws that eventually fade away as they grow older. None of the lions received scars from evil wizards or were cloned in Jurassic Park, and to my knowledge, no lion has a Nelson Mandela birth mark.
9) What position did my elephant beanie baby play in football?
C: LEFT GUARD. At the very least, I hope you got this one right because it could save your life one day. Remember, elephants build up a lot of momentum when they charge, so if you’re running from one, run in a zigzag pattern. At left guard, the elephant doesn’t have to move in a crazy pattern or be super athletic like a quarterback or short stop. To my knowledge, Nelson Mandela’s advisor wasn’t a beanie baby elephant.
10) If there is a large gap between wave troughs, or if the froth from the waves is moving out to sea, this is a sign of a…
A: RIPTIDE. Chances are by the time you realize a riptide is forming, it’ll be too late, but if you’re on life guard duty on the Indian Ocean, this is helpful to know. The Perfect Storm was caused by three colliding hurricanes in the North Atlantic Ocean in the fall of 1991. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about an economic recession, so I won’t even go there, and to my knowledge, when Nelson Mandela arrives places, he has no affect on tidal currents.
11) Which of the following people is NOT a UCT alumnus?
D: NELSON MANDELA. Yes, Mandela was educated at the University of South Africa in Pretoria. Ebert is a famous film critic who did his graduate work down here and Isdell is the former chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company. Little did I know last spring when I was getting vaccinated, but Theiler is a UCT alum who won the Nobel Prize for developing a vaccine for yellow fever.
12) Who was the billionaire imperialist who wanted to build a railroad from Cape Town to Cairo?
C: CECIL RHODES. Rhodes had plenty of ambition, and he’s a very controversial figure in African history because of his imperialist ideas. John Hammond was the billionaire who owned Jurassic Park, Bruce Wayne owns Wayne Enterprises and moonlights as Batman and to my knowledge, Nelson Mandela wasn’t a billionaire or imperialist.
If you got a perfect score, congratulations! I can’t promise you any reward, but maybe you’ll feel smarter regarding the country at the southern tip of Africa. Hopefully I’ll do as well on my exams as you did on this one. After my exams, I grab my fedora and whip for the final time and head on my Last Crusade to Namibia. I don’t plan on adopting a baby while I’m there, but this is Africa, and Africa is the Joker of the world, where nothing goes according to plan.
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