South Africa is often taken and treated like a highly developed country, one which has a fully evolved society and is definitely civilised. This is completely justified and South Africans can sit at the table with any other nationalities and feel completely at home. There is one area, however, where South African people, especially the men, have not quite got their knuckles completely off the ground yet and that would be the area of fireplaces.
Fireplaces have a special place in the hearts and homes of South Africans. South African men feel that that fireplaces are their domain and they are very territorial about these fireplaces, meaning that just because you and neighbour have identical fireplaces, does not mean that either of you have the right to be scratching around in the other’s fireplace. This is not euphuism for South African men’s feelings towards their wives or girlfriends; it is a genuine description of how South African men view their fireplaces.
When these fireplaces are being built, the future owner will cluck around the builder like a mother hen, and being just as annoying. This is the main reason why most fireplaces in South Africa are built by the owners themselves, or if push comes to shove, it will be built or fitted by a friend, who will not want to commit murder to end the incessant clucking.
This love for their fireplaces is a reflection of the South African wanting to return to his/her prehistoric roots when fire was power and being able to make fire rose to the ranks of magicians. South African men need to feel the primal satisfaction that comes with making a beautiful fire, and part of this primal pleasure is comes from the fireplaces themselves, much like people would gather around the hearth in the old days, just so, fireplaces are where people can gather for warmth, comfort and conversation.
So don’t mistakenly think that South Africans are backward because of the relationship they have with their fireplaces just do not touch them, or you might end going back home minus a few essential digits.