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Shopping

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternIf culture is how individuals and communities express their way of doing things and of seeing the world, and of how they acquire the necessities of their day to day existence, then shopping is a major part of our culture. And – as a visitor – you’ll want to partake of this cultural activity so that you can take home a sense of how we live – and lots of other cool things you can buy.

Now South Africa is not one of the shopping Meccas of the world with a vast array of international designer goods and electronic widgets at duty free prices. In fact, imported goods are quite expensive here so you would do well to limit your shopping to locally produced items. The obvious examples are local crafts and wines, but there is more. We have a well developed fashion industry, so you could buy some really quite unique items that will stand out when you wear them at home and, of course, South Africa is one of the world’s leading diamond, gold, platinum and jewellery producers, so you could visit a manufacturing jeweller and get a piece made up to your own design in a matter of days. Some may even be found on site at mines. You may also like to buy some really good quality locally made safari gear, and, of course, you will find a huge range of creative hand-crafted garments in local craft centres.

And – if you just really like to shop, you could visit a flea market, a farmers market, or even trawl the malls, which, you’ll find, are rather similar to those found elsewhere in the world.

One thing you will not fail to notice is the entrepreneurial spirit of African people. In South Africa, particularly, you will find people selling all manner of things at traffic lights. From the rather prosaic – newspapers and flowers – to the pretty bizarre – cell phone chargers and furniture – the side of the road is just another shopping precinct. Although you may find a lot of this quite odd, you should take the time to look at the beautifully crafted beaded animals, flowers, bowls and light shades on sale on South Africa’s thoroughfares.


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