CELEBRITIES IN AFRICA
WE ARE HEADED TO SOUTH AFRICA!
Who knew that the Gupta surname (no, not Sanjay Gupta) carried so much weight in Africa? After my husband had told me that we were heading to South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg), I couldn’t help but to lose all composer and start doing a “Momma, Africa— Happy Dance” in the middle of our living room. Yes, we had video of this but if you know my husband the video we could have replayed here for you is now long gone; the phone has long been lost.
However, here is what it looked somewhat like.
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRLINES-THE ONLY WAY TO FLY
As an African-American woman, I had always wanted to go to Africa to see where my family “roots” had originated. However, I didn’t anticipate that going with the surname Gupta would give me so much notoriety. When we got off the plane, we weren’t dropped off in the middle of a jungle like many people presume. In fact, the stewardesses on our plane were some of the best we have ever encountered. They truly understand customer service and anything we needed on South African Airlines they helped us get expeditiously. The food was outstanding, 5 stars, and we weren’t even seated in first class. With soft melodies of African music flowing thru the plane there was a sense of serenity that came over me while I subconsciously noted that most of the passengers were not of a brown hue.
THE GUPTA EMPIRE OF SOUTH AFRICA
Once we exited the plane, in Cape Town, SA, I was astonished to see all the modern amenities that we enjoy in the United States. When we finally got to the customs security counter and handed the guard our passports with utter excitement the guard looked at my husband and I, and shouted “Gupta, OH MY GOD, you are Gupta!” My husband and I now excited and confused, quickly replied back, “yes we are!” The guard then said, “It is an honor to meet you, you know Gupta’s are celebrities in South Africa.” We looked at each other in awe and said, “Really. Why?” The guard went on to say that, “There are two Gupta brothers that have amassed a fortune via various business ventures in South Africa and they have ties to the President of South Africa.” He then asked us, “Are you related to them?” My husband motioned, “No, I’m not.” We then scurried on to our hotel with this new found knowledge.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A CELEBRITY?
At the hotel we were again greeted with glee. The hotel manager welcomed us and stated that the hotel had a private car on hand for us. I looked outside as he gestured and saw a Mercedes Benz with a driver all set to take us wherever we wanted to go. I looked at my husband, swenched my eyes and said, they must think we are related to the Guptas’ of Cape Town. With amusement we hurried off to our room to look up “the famous Gupta brothers of South Africa.” After finding them on the internet, I told my husband that he could actually look like one of them if he grew out his hair a bit more.
We decided that we would use the hotel amenities provided to us, of course the private driver and all. Who were we to say no, given that the driver was complements of the hotel and we are Gupta’s after all. With our private driver at hand, we found out the history of South Africa and visited every attraction that South Africa has to offer and climbed numerous mountains. We wanted to experience all things that South Africa has to offer. With that said here are 10 other fascinating things about South Africa; particularly Cape Town and Johannesburg that we learned while being celebrities:
1.) South Africa has exquisite vineyards and they are everywhere. No vineyard is like the other. Most vineyards are owned by Dutch.
2.) South Africa is diverse. You would think that because you are in Africa that there would be more “Black” Africans than any other ethnic group but this far from the case. After conversations with our private driver we found that it was common for Africans and Indians, Portuguese etc. to intermix.
3.) South Africa has cuisines for any palate: Indian, Irish, African, French etc. We got into the most prominent,5 star French restaurant, in South Africa that boosts a 6 month to a year waiting list because of our last name.
4.) South African’s wonder why African-American’s don’t come to Africa. South Africa is a premier vacation destination for Europeans.
5.) South Africa is awe strikingly beautiful. So much so that my husband and I with our new celebrity discussed moving there the entire 2 weeks of our visit. I might upset some with this but it is even more beautiful than San Francisco, CA. There are rolling hills of countryside, beaches, Safari’s, and mountains with amazing history that brought tear to our eyes.
6.)South African’s are friendly. Everywhere we went people offered to help us. Without knowing that our last name was Gupta.
7.) In Africa, you will find that people saran wrap their luggage not only to keep pest out but also thieves.
8.) South Africa is modern. There are upscale shops and multi-lingual schools everywhere.
9.) If you are African-American, South Africans will try to help you determine where your family is from or figure it out. My husband is Indian so they said he would be from Durban, and I looked like I was from Cape Verde.
10.) Luxury cars are everywhere. The dichotomy between the poor and the wealthy is eye opening and heart breaking in South Africa.
***Bonus-I never understood what it meant to be Black in America until we were in South Africa. Not Black as it relates to the color of my (brown) skin but in regards to existing. I mourned being devoid/lacking knowledge of the continent of my family’s origination and only being able to trace “my roots” back 150 years. In addition to knowing my native tongues (now all the more for my daughter’s sake).
Have you been to South Africa? What has your experience been like?