10 Questions You Should Never Ask A South African

10 Questions You Should Never Ask A South African Overseas - Proudly South African In Perth

We’ve all been there – you’re travelling or living overseas and meet someone for the first time. As soon as they realise you’re from South Africa, the questions start!

These are my top 10 questions you should never ask a South African.


1. “Where is South Africa?”

Ag shame, I feel so sorry for the people who ask us this question. Clearly, they’re lacking in the logic department.

We’re one of the few countries in the world where our location is spelled out in our name.



2. “You can’t be South African – you’re not black?”

Even in the 21st century, with access to information at a click of a smartphone button, it seems that there are some precious souls out there that still think only black people are from Africa.

Newsflash – we have black South Africans, white South Africans, Indian South Africans, Asian South Africans, coloured South Africans and everything in between!

South Africa is a true melting pot of ethnicities and we’re proud of it!


3. “Did you ride elephants to school?”

Well, how else were we supposed to get to school?


4. “Do you have toilets in your house?”

No, we’re still using long drops and wish we could get real toilet paper.

We dream of wiping our bums with something softer than a leaf from the nearest bush.


5. “Can you say something in South African?”

Err what?

If you take a look at our list of official languages you’ll find 11 of them – but South African ain’t one!

Admittedly, ‘howzit my china, lekker lekker’ might sound like a foreign language but it’s just good old Saffa slang.


6. “But you don’t sound South African?”

How are we supposed to sound?

If Hollywood movies are anything to go by, we can sound like anything from Nicole Kidman in The Interpreter to Leonardo di Caprio in Blood Diamond.

No wonder people are confused!


7. “Do you have a pet lion?”

No, but I did have an uncle who had a pet hippo that slept in his kitchen. I always wanted a lion as a pet but my mom would never allow it.


8. “Where in Australia/New Zealand are you from?”

How to offend a South African in one easy step!

It’s like asking a Canadian where in the US they’re from, or asking a Scot where in England they are from.

No South African likes to be mistaken for an Aussie!


9. “Do you have internet in South Africa?”

Let’s face it, you could replace internet with pretty much anything – roads, electricity, running water, cars, houses, whatever.

There will always be people who think that if you’re from anywhere in Africa that you must live in a mud hut and send smoke signals to communicate with the next village.


10. “Do you know my friend Bianca? She’s from South Africa too.”

Hands down my favourite question to get as a South African overseas!

Someone asked me via email if I know someone because she was also a South African in Perth. I quickly pointed out to her that there are over 40,000 people in WA that were born in South Africa and she had no idea there were so many of us.

Laugh extra hard if they ask if you know their mate from Kenya!


What’s the most annoying question you’ve been asked as a South African overseas? Let me know in the comments and if you loved this post, share it!



About Author

Helping you move to, settle in, and explore your new home in Australia. Avid reader, beach lover, and horse addict. As someone who has emigrated, not once, not twice, but three times, I know exactly what you’re going through. The ups and downs of emigration are faster than a rollercoaster and I’ve been there – three times!


  • Garith Wheeler
    15th May 2019 at 3:59 pm

    Coming from Zimbabwe, now living is S.A – and hopefully moving to Australia in a few months.
    I get almost all of these Questions… especially “You can’t be Zimbabwean– you’re not black?” and “Do you know my friend Bianca? She’s from Zimbabwe too.” (this all from South Africans)

    And its amazing that you end up hating your home country while you are still living there… but once to immigrate… you’re suddenly the biggest patriot of your homeland…. I dare anyone to say anything bad about broken Zim. LOL

  • Corné Theron
    5th March 2020 at 7:22 pm

    We’re living in Finland at the moment and I’m studying Finnish. Just yesterday, my classmate asked if the all the African people in the language school all speak Afrikaans, since I am Afrikaans. (And by that she means Ugandans, Kenians etc) Uhm, no…

  • Ruth Vercuil Stonehouse
    25th June 2021 at 7:02 am

    I have lived in Spain for 39 years and am a Spanish citizen. The most irritating question I used to be asked very often, was “But which country in South Africa are you from?” This did not stop until Spain won the Football World Cup in 2010. Then FINALLY South Africa was on the world map!

    Another one was: “What do you you when you’re walking along the street and a lion crosses your path?”

    Kind regards,

    Ruth Vercuil Stonehouse


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