Wednesday, 16 January 2013

You know you live in South Africa when.....

You know you live in South Africa when.....
15 January 2013

Our amazing, magnificent, glorious country is breathtakingly beautiful.  Not just her countryside, beaches and scenery, but her people too.  Our rainbow nation.

How many other countries have eleven official languages?  Yip, that’s right.  It’s not a typo.  ELEVEN languages!  I can’t even name all of them.  Most countries have one.  At a push, some have two.  But not us.  Go big or go home is our motto.  Eleven languages – take that!  Wait no, in fact – beat that!

But though we get many things right, sadly there are still some things we seem to get ever so wrong.  We don’t do the death penalty (which kinda suits me, to be honest – I don’t like the concept, I’m a bit of a wuss), and our prisoners are able to vote in elections.  Even those who have been forcibly removed from society for life.  A society where the incarcerated receives better care than our elders.  Our schools are full, yet our pass rates are dropping.  Our politicians are fat and predominantly lazy.  Our policemen and women are underpaid.  Our medical staff too.  Our national airline carrier is forever on the brink of decline.  Our broadcasting corporation embroiled in controversy too.  Unbiased broadcasting and news coverage?  Perhaps not.  The ruling party will always carry favour – they foot the bill after all.  Even though the taxpayers are the ones who ultimately pay.  Our only power utility company is battling to fill the power needs of the people and soaring electrical prices are the norm.  There is no real back-up plan to supplement our needs - both immediate and long term.  Sadly corruption is rife – and in the very highest office – our President’s to be exact.  Our soccer players perform poorly and our cyclists get killed.  Our farm labourers are striking and many other unions to.  This in turn having a knock-on effect on several industries, pushing up our cost of living and making the poor even more so.  Food prices always rising and petrol too.  Our townships are overflowing and people fight over toilets.  New born babies die in inadequately equipped provincial hospitals.  Our teachers are not always properly qualified and nepotism is prevalent in many sectors of our economy.  Jobs for family and friends, the order of the day.

Yet, for all of the doom and gloom, our country has a magical and unique charm all of its own.  Something we’re just doing ever so right.  It is the pearl of Africa.  The brightest jewel in the continent’s crown.

Where else in the world can you walk into a KFC and order a Streetwise Pap for two?  Where you do lots of your shopping from friendly gap-toothed vendors whilst waiting at a robot (or traffic lights for those not in the know).  Where you see the entrepreneurial spirit in action every day.  Where people have a nation pride that is astounding and humbling and makes our blood pump green.  Will the hype and hoopla of the Soccer World Cup in 2010 ever be forgotten?  And the sense of pride and camaraderie we all experienced during and after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.  The very overwhelming feeling of one-ness and unity we rejoiced in.  A feeling that our rather fragile, troubled and restless people craved and desperately needed at the time.  A country where our former elder statesmen and President, though a convict himself, is revered and loved by his whole nation.  Forgiveness is a vital key to our make-up.  A country that is known for its awesome sense of humour and beautiful women.  A country whose qualified labour force is yearned for across our borders.  Some of our technical people are highly acclaimed in their fields and are regarded as forerunners and innovative thinkers.  A hardworking nation.

Our children, the “now generation”, are growing up less colour blind.  Less and less aware of ethnicity.  We are morphing into a wonderful and eclectic melting pot or numerous different cultures.  So vast and diverse, it is hard to see where one ends and another begins.  Where our cultural identity has become a sort of fanagalo (assortment).  Everyone’s best bits are included.  Some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Ramadan, some Christmas, some Diwali, some Chinese New Year, others Tweede Nuwe Jaar.  Everyone eats a variety of foods incorporated from all of us.  Our constitution is lauded as one that makes ample provision for the employment of physically challenged or differently abled workers.  People are not discriminated against based upon their sexual orientation.  Gay and Lesbian marriages are allowed and are in fact legal.  The informal employment sector is huge.  Our children are taught tolerance and acceptance of those that speak differently to them.  Look different to them.  Act different to them.  Eat different food to them.  Are indeed different to them.

My children have many different friends – Muslim, Jewish, Asian, Black, Afrikaans, Indian, Coloured.  They’re all just friends – equally welcome in our home.  Some friends wear glasses.  Some don’t.  Some friends more weighty.  Some again are skinny.  Some are more affluent.  Others less so.

I rejoice in this culture and feel blessed to be a part of Mother Africa.  What better home and training ground for my kids?  May we all live to learn and internalise all Africa is teaching us.

She is wise.


  1. It is wonderful to read an optimistic view our fantastic country.
    I love being South African.

  2. if there are people who dont enjoy being south Africans.... lol please think again becoz i love en enjoy being.. we hve de most beautiful history about our country, and we shoud put our pride aside and share our beautiful country with other people ...... lets stand up tall an say we are proud to be South Africans ....