Ja Well No Fine – You Don’t Love South Africa – I’ll Get Over It!

Street vendors in South Africa (www.online.wsj.com)

My husband and I were invited to dinner two Fridays ago. We wanted to catch up with a friend from South Africa and he wanted us to meet his South African neighbours. As these dinners with fellow Saffas go – the conversation always reverts to the conditions in South Africa – how bad crime is – how corrupt officials are – blah, blah, blah!!

This dinner was no different. My husband warned me not to go overboard with my opinions before the dinner so I tried to behave myself. I didn’t comment when someone said things are so bad that you can only get medicine from Discem if you’re an ANC member. I bit my tongue when someone else said that Orlando Stadium would be empty when the Bulls played there. But it all got a bit too much for me – and somewhere between “I feel so sorry for people in South Africa now,” and “there are only foreign doctors in our hospitals” I had to plainly say that I was very positive about the country.

Firstly silence and blank stares. Then utter disbelief when I said that we should probably think about contributing to our country instead of berating it. “Why are you in Dubai then?” I was quizzed. I tried, in vain, to explain the concept of work experience and saving money. I tried to explain that my intention is always to return home. Ag, what was the point – I wasn’t winning and they thought that I was mad. Who cares?!

Then yesterday, we had sundowners and snacks with another South African couple. What a bloody difference! Jessica and Tshepo are also on their way to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup. Tshepo said that his brother sends him texts of what’s going on back home and its all becoming too much to handle. It was clear – we are all so excited for our country – positive but realistic – most of all, proudly South African.

I guess the reason for this post is this: all of us have our own perceptions about the way life is back home. And it’s just that – perceptions. Perceptions borne out of our own experiences and relationships. Actually, this is true for every part of our lives. Your attitude to everything will ultimately determine your actions and destiny in your life. It’s a fact.

Some people will never feel the electricity in the air when you drive through Jozi. Some people won’t appreciate the beauty of the Jacarandas in Pretoria or enjoy the “conversations” with the street vendors at traffic lights. I, above anyone else, must just build a bridge and get over it!

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2 responses

  1. What a lovely post. Good for you sticking up for us.Yes…it is not all good….show me a country where it is!

  2. l left South Africa in the mid 70s when my business was being affected by the failure of the last government’s policies, the subsequent riots and the war against civilians in the townships.

    l made this decision with a heavy heart but got on with it and became a citizen of another country, now more than 30 years later l still feel that South Africa is my “Heimat”,-we have introduced my new found friends to SA wine, braaivleis, potjie cooking and biltong. The downside is that our kids have grown up with South Africa as just another foreign country, they cannot speak a word of Afrikaans and my grand-kids are only half South African. Now that l meet so many ex-pats who have arrived here in the past few years l advise them to reconsider their decision to move abroad because once they have put down their roots they grow permanently as time passes and perhaps they should think about returning to contribute to the country they left,-if they feel that it is the right thing to do.

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