Culture Shock for the African in Canada – Part 2

First significant lesson I learn upon exiting the airport and heading home is that in Canada, interior places are almost always warm in winter while exterior places make you feel like one that bears the brunt of Rose’s betrayal in Titanic.

Now that I have actually experienced icy weather, my doubts about Rose’s commitment to Jack on that ship and specifically on that piece of door in the open ocean have been cemented. No, I will never get over it. She let him die people. It was freaking cold. He was freezing! I…I…I just can’t. 😭😭


On a serious note though πŸ˜€…. The thing is, most homes, restaurants, bars and just about any place with an interior is warm. The unwritten rule is that you have to dress for the weather when stepping out and then you take off the coat once inside. Remember my Big Shaq reference in part one (Mans not hot?) You are expected to take off your winter gear when you enter yours or someone’s home or a restaurant. You hang it somewhere.

The first time I entered the house and I kept the thick coat on, my sister tells me, “you have to take it off. The house is warm. You have to take off your coat when you arrive somewhere.”

No I DON’T. It’s stylish. More people should see me wearing this. πŸ˜€

So I ask her, “is that a Canadian law…like I could get arrested or something?” Because she looked serious telling me to take off my coat! I had just survived a literal cold war out there I just wanted to keep myself warm.

She tells me, “no, that’s because there’s no need for you to have extra warm stuff on when you’re inside. The heat is on so it’s very warm.”

She sounded so Canadian saying that. I could picture our ancestors scrapping her name off their records and mumbling amongst themselves, “we’ve lost another one.” πŸ˜€

If that explanation wasn’t clear enough, a few days later I would find myself at a club with friends exploring the Canadian night life and right at the door was a place where we could leave our coats at a fee, you know, like we check in outside items at the parcel center at our malls in Zambia except they charge you for it here. I thought “oh wow, this coat business is serious here!”

I remember how ages ago (way way back in time lol) my girls and I would wonder what to do with the extra clothes we had carried with us to the club because we didn’t want our parents to know what was going on under them. There was no ‘Department of Coat Hanging’ in Club Fairmount. We just sorta winged it, hoping no one steals em while we hit the dance floor.

I mean, I have never before felt so much pressure to take off my clothes in public! πŸ˜€ Back home, you walk in the way you came and you have the option to either keep your coat on or not and nobody really cares. But I get the Canadians. Due to the notorious winter here, people tend to dress really extra warm and if you keep all those layers on in a very warm place, you might just roast yourself to death!

Enough about coats already!Β 

Obviously the weather was a big shocker for me even though I had been thoroughly warned prior to coming but still it felt great to experience it. The idea of me coming in winter was to actually experience the famous Canadian winter which doesn’t make sense to people here because I keep getting these looks you know…like, “what the bloody hell is wrong with you visiting Canada in winter?” I can tell some folks would love to have my sanity examined but c’mon people, Beiber isn’t the only anomaly in the universe. πŸ˜€

You know how they say, “you can tell a conversation is boring when people start talking about the weather.” Well, that doesn’t apply here. If you’ve noticed, up to this point, I have done nothing but talk about – the weather! People in Canada talk about the weather 90% of the damn time! First few conversations I had with people had me checking my social skills y’all, questioning myself like “have I become that boring!? Because I have always believed that you only talk about the weather when you have nothing else to talk about. Now suddenly, everyone is talking to me about the weather!

Seriously, I couldn’t keep up at first. I could feel the enzymes in my tummy doze every time the weather came up in a conversation. I tend to talk too much, about anything and everything. Am telling you, if they used to charge data for talking like they do on our phones, I would probably be in debt right now. But over here in Canada, I have found myself talking less and less at social events because I can’t stand any more talk about the weather.

I only came to understand why the average Canadian is so obsessed with the weather when my sister educated me about it.

“The weather here changes rapidly,” she said. “It determines the activities we do, how we dress, whether to change the tires on our cars and so on and so forth.

“Everything revolves around the weather here. That’s why people can’t stop talking about the weather.”

Lightbulb moment, k’ching. Enlightenment! Alellu~~~

I am the girl that has worn knee high leather boots in summer and have dressed in barely nothing in certain winters. I don’t care what the weatherΒ  is like as long as I look hot goddammit! But I learnt humility here people. πŸ˜€ I have been tamed and whooped by the weather, thoroughly and severely.

Let me end the weather talk here but best believe it will pop up every now and then. Am starting to catch Canadian Feelings already, ya feel me? πŸ˜‰

Next shocker obviously was seeing the city for the first time. And this is somewhat of a reversal because…you know how they say North America is first world and Africa is third world? I kind of expected to see some Star Wars or Neverland shit going on in the air and just about everywhere! Forgive myΒ French but I needed to explicitly convey my feelings there.

I mean, no offense, but I expected to see honey coloured roads, candy growing on trees you know, like the Sugarcandy mountains described by the tamed raven Moses in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I expected to see flying ships transporting people to work, pink and yellow flying cars, buildings so out of the world I would be rendered speechless.

But no my people. It turns out everything out here is very ‘normal.’ I thought about every African city I have visited and still, nothing appeared out of the ordinary. I had to remind myself that maybe when they say first world, they mean continents that are exceptionally economically strong and not necessarily places that don’t look like *cough-cough* [whispering~~~] “shitholes.” πŸ˜€ I couldn’t help myself. Forgive me.

Downtown Ottawa

I do have to say though that yep, Canada is like 50 years more advanced than my home country in terms of economics, politics, and generally how systems work to make life easier for the citizen which is funny because I think my country is very much capable of getting there and should have gotten there many years ago. I have never believed, not even once that Zambia or any other African country is poor.

In most African states, it’s more an issue of how best the ones holding power can enrich themselves and rarely ‘how best can we empower our people and build our country with the resources we have.” It’s like we got so messed up envying the whitefolks that colonised us as they lived off our riches that all we do now is selfishly amass power just so we can turn ourselves into them – except this time it’s the African himself doing it to his fellow Africans. SMH

Yes, I can be very political sometimes but oh well…back to the fun stuff!

Let me talk about partying in Canada, house parties to be more specific. Have you ever attended a Christmas party where there was more talk and less dancing? Not where I come from and at least not in my experience! When Africans say party, they really mean just that: PAR-TY!!!! Not that the parties here are boring, NO. They’re just different.

Canadians talk at parties. They have full blown conversations at parties. Am not kidding. I mean, it was at a Christmas party (not the traditional family christmas party but just a regular friends hangin party where I was my sister’s plus one) that I learnt someone was a descendant of Lenin…or was it Leon Trostky? See I wasn’t even listening! I had zoned out and started imagining Azonto playing in my head while I chimwemwe danced, turning left, right, left right, shake, shake…clap and clap…ayoba! πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ

There was a party going on in my head while in reality someone was talking to me about what their dog likes doing. And naughty dog I must say. I had an ex like that. I could barely make out the beat or the lyrics playing from the stereo (yes, I just said stereo am going to hell πŸ˜€.) The volume was at negative 10. I could hear the devil tempting the fella standing fifteen feet away to check up on his mistress a second time.

I mean, am all for social hangouts and meeting new people but in Africa we have another word for that. We don’t call it a party ah-ah. The most I have learnt about people at a Christmas party for friends is their name, what they do for a living and if the song playing is their favourite. Next thing would be “thats my song, lets dance!” And this happens at actual parties not those ones organized by the church folks were everyone pretends the holy spirit forbids them from catching a rhythm unless they about to break into a tongue-tantrum.

On the other hand the family christmas parties are awesome here in Canada (or maybe it’s the family that’s awesome? Hehehe) Having been raised in a Jehovah’s Witness home (although am not a J-Wit anymore), there wasn’t even talk of Christmas in my home, only when the folks were telling you why “we don’t celebrate and what you should tell people about the truth.” My mother is probably rolling in her grave right now seeing me talk about enjoying Christmas like this. On the flip side, isn’t it fun to know that the dead are conscious of nothing! Haha. Am gonna dedicate a whole post on my family Christmas experience because it was that much fun and enlightening.

Moving on to – dating! πŸ˜€ I know a couple of friends that are dying to hear about my dating escapades but hang on a little longer, that might come in part 3 of; Culture Shock for the African in Canada.

They say, “don’t kiss and tell” fortunately, I didn’t kiss…much at least so I can tell right!? πŸ˜€ Let’s just say that so far, I have learnt just how relationships amongst Africans are so so very different from folks out here in North America. And that is both a good and bad thing!

More about that and many other cool stuff in the next post. Cheers.


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