Today we have Nola Haney, Sales Manager for Barbour, joining us to share about a business trip she took to South Africa last Fall. She shared some of her pictures and adventures with us at a company meeting, recently, and we thought you'd enjoy hearing about her travels, too:
I went to South Africa on business in October 2010. Wow! Seems like a lifetime ago now.
Christian Art Distributors, Barbour’s exclusive distributor for southern Africa, invited me and acted as my host for most of the trip. I say “most” because I have cousin, Mary Gladman DeWitt, who lives in a suburb of Johannesburg and with whom I spent some time when I first arrived.
Mary met me at the airport and took me to a rugby game. I believe the teams were the Xerox Lions vs. the Pumas. Anyway, the favored team lost. It was interesting to watch, and my, the leg muscles those guys have!
Mary’s family treated me to dinner at Bomi, which features buffets of authentic local foods. It was all delicious. And Sunday afternoon they had a braai [barbecue] and I tried wart hog. Marinated, it is quite tasty.
Monday evening several Christian Art folks and I ate at MOYO, a very nice African restaurant in Johannesburg. Here I savored Springbok which is an animal similar to a deer or antelope. Moyo is as much an African experience as it is a restaurant. It is filled with African art and African music reverberates throughout.
South Africa is a beautiful country. The scenery was as varied as a country can be. Spring was just beginning so much of the north was cool and very green. The south around Cape Town was warmer and very sunny and many of its residence were enjoying the beaches. Christian Art also treated me to a game drive on a reserve in KwaZulu Natal. The KwaZulu area where we stayed was browner and very rural. This area would remind you of typical pictures you see of Africa with the tall brown grasses that sway in the breeze. However, it was cool here and I was bundled in several layers on the game drive. My hosts mentioned that they had not gotten their expected rain fall in August so the water tables were lower than they should have been.
Along with Johannesburg and Cape Town, I was also in Durban. I was very comfortable and never felt afraid on the trip, but I was rarely without a host either.
We made many store visits. There are some very large fashionable malls that could very easily be U.S. malls. South Africa is considered a third world country, but it has many 1st world properties. Many folks have good jobs in factories, and offices just as we have here in the U.S. They have nice homes and drive nice cars.
But there is much poverty also, as there are not enough jobs for everyone. There are many immigrants from other African nations who have fled to South Africa for refuge. These may live in what are known as townships—shack-like dwellings without electricity or running water. Some poor citizens live in low-cost housing which are shacks with electricity and running water. One electric pole might feed 7 homes.
Barbour books are found in the same markets there as here— Religious bookstores, church bookstores, General Market chains, Mall stores, Religious chains. And just as in the U.S. the general market likes to place all books from a Christian publisher in the “Religion” section even though you and I know fiction would do well in the fiction section, children’s’ books in the kids section…
Having seen and experienced the First/Third world phenomena I now can understand a little better the decision processes and needs of my customer better and hopefully can help them as they select the books for the markets they serve in South Africa.