Humbly South African?

by - April 26, 2012

I used to work on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Our guests were predominantly American. When they see your name badge or ask you where you’re from and you tell them, you usually get an array of responses. Some people say clever things like “South Africa, where in Australia is that?” To others, Madiba comes to mind and sure, they think he’s still president, but that’s fine. Others think of Apartheid and look at you like you’re the enemy. Others think of Rugby because they’ve seen Invictus (I prefer the District 9 view of South Africa myself).  And now… we have Die Antwoord to contend with.  …Sigh. 

Patriotism is supposed to be some sort of virtue. We encourage it in our children, we support heritage day and all things “proudly South African”, but why? Somehow we’re supposed to feel unified by the fact that we all live within the same border and be proud of that, but what else do we really have in common?

Rugby? - When you watch it I go shopping.
Biltong? - I could live without it. 
Phuza Thersdays? – The more you drink the more I don’t like you.

National heritage day is now also known as ‘Braai day’. We base our national identity on the fact that we cook meat outside. ...Because no one else has, I don’t know, cook-outs, or barbeques?

I don’t even really like my fellow South African. Thank goodness we're not at war because there is no way I would risk my life for the jerks in the 4x4's and beamers who treat me so badly in traffic everyday. We are not the same, clearly I can't relate to your culture and then there is the whole thing of you being a jerk. I don't want to be part of a nation of angry impatient people so if you can't be proudly South African when you're behind the anonymity of your windscreen then you can keep your patriotism, I don't want it.

Apart from sport and the support of Charlize Theron, here in South Africa our issue with the e-tolling system is the closest we’ve come to unity since that time when Apartheid ended and we all bought matching peace T-shirts.

The truth is, when the rugby is over, people are only really patriotic when they’re overseas – that’s when they feel foreign so they try to convince themselves that they belong somewhere. They sit around drinking rooibos and eating niknaks and remind each other how hardcore they are for surviving the crime.

We are constantly told to support things that are South African, but why? I’m so so sick to death of people telling me to listen to South African music and watch South African movies. I refuse! It’s 2012, for crying in a bucket, we no longer have any excuses to suck in these fields. Technology has evened the playing field and if you’re going to make crap I will not support it. I will happily watch a movie or buy music if it is ‘good’ and plenty of SA bands and some films do fall into that category and are therefore in my collection. How will the quality of the stuff we make ever improve to an international standard if the message we’re sending is “As long as it’s local, mediocrity is good enough”? 

It’s not that I don’t like South Africa. I like living here and there are LOTS of things that I love about it, I just don’t want to have to be patriotic. Yes, I am South African, but I like food from China, movies from India, television from America, music from all over, gelato from Italy and cars from Japan.  Coming from the land of Faith like Potatoes, Load-shedding, electrified fences, the angry drivers of William Nicol, Die Antwoord, Jacob Zuma, Jacob Zuma’s wives, Kurt Darren, Leon Shuster, Juju, Jack Parrow, and people who refer to traffic lights as “Robots”, I sometimes struggle to be proud of my nationality, but it’s home and I like it so can I not be humbly South African instead, please?



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