I have a love / hate relationship with this country.
It’s the little things that get to me. It’s the way taxis take to our streets with total abandon and a sense of entitlement that infuriates everyone they cut in front of and crash into.
It’s the way, after all this time, after all the fights we’ve fought, snot-nosed political troublemakers can step into the limelight and set us back twenty years every time they shake their fists in the air and bark their angry, idiotic words, inciting hatred and violence.
It’s the way a friend of a friend got robbed or stabbed or shot for his cell phone and we all heard the news and said “Thank God it wasn’t worse”.
It’s the way politicians get away with blue murder completely scott free, irrespective of what they’ve done and it’s the way we all bitch and moan about it until we are pulled over for drunk driving and get off on a R50 bribe.
It’s the way I’ve never, not once, wound my window down to give a beggar change. Their faces disappear from my mind the second they vanish in my rear view mirror. An endless parade of ghosts.
It’s the way we can’t forget, no matter how hard we try, that there was a time in this country when our fathers and their fathers before them committed atrocious acts of violence and cruelty because they allowed themselves to be governed by a system based on ignorance and fear.
It’s the way we live in eternal uncertainty, of our government, of our future and of each other.
So why stick around? If there’s nothing left to fight for, why fight at all? There’s a whole world out there full to bursting of greener grass, why not just leave?
I stay in South Africa because underneath everything, I love this country to pieces and I know that I can’t live without it.
Things get bad sometimes and sometimes it feels like we’re backsliding and like the precious balance that we’ve tried so hard to maintain is toppling, but if there’s one thing no one can deny about South Africans, it’s that we are a people who understand more than any other nation on this earth how powerful hope really is.
From the concrete skyscrapers in Jozi to the open, untouched valleys of the Eastern Cape; from the sugarcane fields of Kwa-Zulu Natal to the baking hot deserts of the Karoo and the proud oceans that wash the shores of this beautiful, haunted country, we are a people who are united by the hardships we’ve suffered and the moments of triumph we’ve shared.
And what better way to celebrate everything we’ve achieved than by inviting the world with open arms to experience what it’s like to live here, under the arching, golden African sun and the endless blue skies that stretch on above us, come summer, autumn, winter or spring.
The beauty of it all is that on some days we might be coloured people, waiting by the bus stop to commute back to Khayalitsha and on others we might be white people from the northern suburbs of Jozi, driving our Audis home after a long day in and out of meetings.
On some days we might be black children, kicking a soccer ball in the streets of Alex and on others we might be Indian women, dressed in brightly coloured saris behind tables of fragrant spices at the Oriental Plaza.
On some days we might be Chinese people and on others we might be Greek. On some days we might be Lebanese and on others we might be Afrikaans or Sotho or Zulu or Venda.
But today, we are all of us South Africans.
What a great day today is 🙂