Recently, I did a little bit of travelling. I was meant to do a whole lot more than I eventually got to do (because of a little disagreement I had with reality about the location of my passport), but I did get to see a whopping ten countries or so. And it was great, it really was. In Europe, the public transport works, the internet is faster than a long-legged dog on short grass and everything is “oh so clean”. But it made me fall in love with South Africa again.
And I think that we need a reminder about why this place is so great. Sure the government has huge problems, sure our unemployment rates are high…and let’s not even mention the crime! But we have a lot going for us. The weather beats most other countries, hands down, EVEN if you include Cape Town’s ferocious wind and Joburg’s crazy hailstorms. The people are amazingly friendly. Where else can you laugh with strangers without any effort? And the pulse this country has? The cheerful and friendly street musicians, the smiling faces, the random stranger joking in queues, the dancing petrol attendants, the beautiful landscapes, the culture, the languages…I can go on and on…
We have developed a culture of negativity that needs to change. All so often I see status’ on facebook like “This country is f***ed and we should all leave.” or “the ANC only looks after their people”. Have we forgotten from where we have come? How many countries have moved into democracy without civil war? How many countries have made such a vast changes in less than 20 years? Forget the “them/us” debacle, it is time for a collective “we”. Forget “leaving” it is time to grow.
Look at the world cup, look at the Nobel Peace Prize winners, look at all the tourists that come back time and time again. There is unity here, even if we don’t quite see it yet. How many of us have met travellers that have vowed to come back here and live? There is good reason for that.
South Africa has a vibe. A pulse. An energy that is hard to come by anywhere else. We have fantastic wines, we have fantastic beaches, we have mountains and lakes. We have a constitution that is world renowned. We have the big five and whale watching. But more than anything else, we have swagger. We have attitude. We laugh with everything we have. We work hard and party harder. South Africans get involved. They take everything to the maximum! PASSION! We are passionate eaters, passionate dancers, passionate fighters, passionate lovers and passionate fans.
There is something here. Something great, something that can make us a country that will compete with anyone on any platform. Passion is something that the world has begun to forget. The global community has begun to sink into a dull state of apathy. Let us remind ourselves, let us remind each other and let us remind the world, what it is to be passionate! What it is to be South African!!
I have hope for this beautiful country. And I am not alone.