There is so much doom and gloom about South Africa. Historical statues are being defaced, the country is plunged into darkness at least once a day because of poor maintenance, xenophobia is rife, violent crime is high, and still on the rise, rhino and elephants are being poached, unemployment is at a laughable level. I could go on and on…but I won’t. There is enough negativity in this country without me also still laying an egg about it, because honestly, I’m pissing against the wind. I choose rather to focus on what I feel is positive about our country.
1. Many parts of the landscape are beautiful, like the Natal Midlands, the Garden Route, and even the arid Karoo. Our landscape constantly changes, yet desert to forest to sea, our country has breathtaking scenery. How often have you actually taken time to just look around you and see this country’s beauty?
2. We have 11 official languages (granted, I can only speak two fluently), but how many people can say they love you in eleven languages? *MTM makes a mental note to learn “I love you” in all of the official Saffer tale. I know “Eish Wena, you bounce my taxi” isn’t one of them.
3. We can eat worms and not be thought of as weird. I was watching something on TV a while ago where a guy cooked mopani worms in/on the radiator of his car. I remember some of the people I was with shuddering at the thought and I said, “I’ve had them – they taste like peanut butter.” This did not convince them because apparently a lot of stuff I eat tastes like peanut butter. But still – mopani worms…you have got to try them at least once; like oysters, you may hate them, but you can tick them off your bucket list. And yes, I have had oysters – I seriously don’t understand what all the hype is about.
4. Depending on what part of the coast you live, you can still swim in the sea without your dangly-bits shrivelling to the size of raisins or standing at such attention you could very well use them to cut glass. Where I live the water isn’t exactly lukewarm like the KZN-coast, but it is always warm enough to go skinny-dipping (and hopefully not become an appetizer to a Great White – shark, that is!)
5. We have a sense of humour. Because if we didn’t, we’d probably all have chewed our wrists off by now, or necklaced our neighbours, or defaced their cars with rotten eggs or toilet-papered their houses. Our ability to laugh at ourselves I believe, sets us apart from our more staid British and serious European counterparts. Seriously now, one only has to take a look at Zapiro’s cartoons to know that we are able to laugh in the face of whatever adversity comes our way.
6. Our people dance when they’re happy, and even when they’re upset about something. There is no need to tango in the cobblestone streets of Argentina with a dark stranger; you can sommer toi-toi with a local in the potholed streets of wherever the action is.
7. The weather. Yes, the weather. I haven’t traveled extensively, but I have been to Dubai in their summer and it was hotter than a jalapeno popper laced with habenaro sauce. I’ve been to Singapore in their winter and while I am a pluviophile, I don’t fancy getting caught in a torrential downpour without an umbrella, and I will not be seen dead in one of those traveler’s poncho’s. They look worse than the black refuse bags we sometimes don to protect our precious skaapwol truie from shrinking in the rain.
8. We’re hard workers. Well, most of us are. Not all of us can earn millions just sleeping in Parliament, now can we? Granted, most of us are middle class people who earn just enough to pay taxes and bills and then not have anything left to spend on the luxuries of a R208 million compound. Many South Africans are proud of our jobs and have a strong work ethic. It is those select few that keep the economic machine moving ahead, albeit how slowly.
9. We don’t bat an eyelid when tourists get attacked by wild animals, because we quite simply verstaan that they are wild. Sure that cheetah in the breeding program may have been hand-reared, but it still has natural instincts that override this. If you want to go game viewing, keep all your hands in the vehicle and sit the hell down.
10. We love sport. It is one of the few things that unites us beyond the lines of colour and culture. I remember the privilege of being able to attend a 2010 World Cup soccer match in Cape Town (possibly because at that stage the 2 Km fan walk nearly killed me because I was so overweight) – there were all sorts of food stalls and the atmosphere was electric. Nobody cared if you were black, white, yellow or Teletubbie (yes, they were there!) – we were just happy to be part of something spectacular. I had no idea what was going on (I’m a cricket- and rugby-loving girl myself) but I was shouting “Laduma!” just as loud as the rest of them.
I don’t deny that there are times when I become incredibly despondent about what is happening to this beautiful country because of people’s intolerance and ineptitude; that there are days when I wish I had enough money, or dual citizenship so I could simply just leave, but this amazing country, with all her faults and troubles, is my home. The power lies within me to determine if it is a happy one, or not.