2 March 2008

My blood is green and gold, part 2

My daughter was given an assignment at school recently to prepare a presentation on why she is proud to be South African. She came home a little disturbed, because she found this a very hard topic to talk about.
We have been, like so many South Africans, talking actively and vividly about fleeing the country of our birth, because, well, there are just so many reasons.
And, while talking about moving to a variety of other countries, we have been focussing on what our lives in these other countries could be like, and, in the manner of anyone trying to convince themselves to make a major change, we have been focussing on the positive aspects of these other countries. And, when one tries to convince oneself that a change has good options, the negative aspects of the current situation are always more defined.
So, it was with this clearly stuck in her head when my daughter started thinking about her presentation.
And, obviously, it has struck a chord with me too.
I love the country of my birth. Moving to another country is something that I am very definitely thinking about, but it is not because I do not love my country. But can I still call myself proud to be a South African?
Our crime rates are through the roof, our government is a joke. Financially, the people are suffering. There seems to be little or no regard for the sanctity of human life, and few South Africans seem to be environmentally conscious. These things combined make it hard to be proud.
If I want to tell other people about my country, these would typically be the first thigns that come to mind.
Because it is easy to forget about the joy the nation shared in 1995 when we won the Rugby World Cup as the hosting nation. And it is hard to remember that the first successful heart transplant was done in South Africa by a South African. And long forgotten is our golden girl, Charlize, who brought home an Oscar, and our swimmers who brought home Olympic gold.
And we forget that we have given birth to global companies like SAB, Dimension Data, De Beers and Old Mutual.
And who ever remembers that Johannesburg is the largest urban forest in the world, with over 6.5million trees scattered across the city.
Sometimes, it is important to remember the good stuff.
For me the most pride-worthy aspect of this country is its people and their tenacity.
Give us a crisis, and we will whinge about it for a day or so, and then get to work, finding innovative solutions to the problems. And this is our greatest strength.
And, while it may not overcome bad politics and the mistakes of the past immediately, it is the glue that holds us together and the foundation for a stronger nation and prosperous future.

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