Around the World in 80 Days, Day 47: “Proper Africa”

Zachary and I spent last night in São Paulo, Brazil after a long flight from Johannesburg, South Africa.  South Africa, as I will report in my article on that country, is not very African.  The white population there has much more in common with Europe, as they will tell you, than they do with the African continent.  Speaking to one Afrikaner, I told him that I had been in Nigeria.  He grimaced.

“That’s proper Africa, there.  I am not a fan.”

“You have been there?”

“Yes.  For business.  I hated it.  I will never go back.”

“Why?” I asked, knowing the answer I would likely get.

“We had to go everywhere in heavily armored vehicles with security guards.  Scary.  Does everyone still seem to have an AK-47?”

“Yes,” I said with a laugh.

São Paulo is, well, different.  The largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, it is all but unknown in the United States.  Although we are only passing through São Paulo, I have been here before and can tell you that it is a very interesting city.

In 2008, I was invited to speak on the campus of Mackenzie Presbyterian University, an enormous institution in the heart of this city.  The invitation came from university president Augustus Nicodemus Lopez.  As his unforgettable name suggests, he looks like the Most Interesting Man in the World.  Augustus was very interested to stimulate the thinking of his students on a variety of Christian issues.  I participated in a university debate on Intelligent Design.  The debate was a bit of a comedy due to translation issues.  I would say a few words, pause and wait for a fellow standing beside me to translate it into Portuguese, and then I’d say a bit more.  It doesn’t make the presentation twice as long, it makes it three times as long.  Afterwards, a man said to me: “I liked both lectures: yours and his.”  Amusingly, it seems the translation didn’t exactly mirror what I had said.

A Catholicism that is weak on biblical theology and biblical understanding in general prevails in this part of the world.  I will report more later.  Right now, my flight is boarding…

Catch up with Zachary’s Vlog! His latest episodes feature some authentic Nigerian cuisine and a South African safari. Watch below, and enjoy:

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