Tea and Biltong with the Queen:
In my last column I wrote about isolation versus belonging, and missing the feeling of being part of the bigger picture, a contributing member of an exciting society. I’m cheating a little with this article as it’s not so much about what I miss but rather a continued look at this attitude I described previously.
Now, I’ll concede that South Africa is still a rather divided nation in some sectors, but I do think this is diminishing, especially with the younger generations – for all the reasons I gave here. Racism is something I now tend to associate with older people – products of apartheid who refuse to (for several reasons) change the way they see the world and how they treat people. When I encounter racist youth I am always pretty surprised, and saddened, but I do think these people are the exception rather than the rule.
These racists are both white and black, and the very nature of racism is that it defies logic so you cannot reason it away. I find it very hard to accept this and often “take the bait” and try to make people realise the falsity of what they believe, but in my most rational moments I must accept that this is a losing battle.
With that little disclaimer above, I will say that I believe the over-riding attitude in South Africa is one of amazing optimism. We have so much to overcome, but we were recently found to be the 7th most business-optimistic country in the world, according to a report by Grant Thornton. Other reports suggest that finances rather than ethnicity is now the major deciding factor in terms of where we choose to live – and while divisions in wealth are not a good thing, they are more easily overcome in a growing economy as ours than racial tensions.
If you’ll forgive the bastardisation of a cliché – we now have a South African dream. Unlike the original (read: american) version, this is not a dream of being handed everything on a platter – this dream is not about a land of excess and easy rides. I think the nation dreams of “just rewards” and that my children will compete against yours in a fair world. That is a pretty respectable dream, in my view.
The following quote is taken from an old (2004) BBC article on change in South Africa:
“Where things have changed for the better – where houses have been built, where black people now feel free to go anywhere they choose – this is often taken for granted.
Where things have not changed – where people remain unemployed or live in terror of crime – there is a deep scepticism whether any political party has either the ability or the will to do anything about it. ”
I think this duality of the public opinion of the time is very well expressed, but I would add to this to bring it up to date. We are a nation waking up to personal responsibility and power, we are no longer asking for solutions to be given, but striving for them ourselves. I see this everywhere: in expats marching in London, in various protests and demonstration all over South Africa, in internet discussion forms and websites, in politicians increasingly panicked attempts to explain themselves.
I guess where I see involvement, other may see unrest and dissatisfaction, but I invite them to don a pair of (lightly) rose tinted glasses and get out on the streets (peacefully) or get vocal about our concerns. Action must lead to action.
- Things you wouldn’t think you’d miss: Self-determination & positive attitudes
- Things you wouldn’t think you’d miss: all for one
- Name, shame and blame SA expats?
- SA Rocks has become more than a blog
- Bad days – are we allowed to have them?
Popularity: 3% [?]