I was recently sent this text written by Jonathen Jansen – I’m not entirely sure the context but I thought it an amazing note – have a read . . .
My South Africa is the working-class man who called from the airport to return my wallet without a cent missing. It is the white woman who put all three of her domestic worker’s children through the same school that her own child attended. It is the politician in one of our rural provinces, Mpumalanga, who returned his salary to the government as a statement that standing with the poor had to be more than just a few words. It is the teacher who worked after school hours every day during the public sector strike to ensure her children did not miss out on learning.
My South Africa is the first-year university student in Bloemfontein who took all the gifts she received for her birthday and donated them – with the permission of the givers – to a home for children in an Aids village. It is the people hurt by racist acts who find it in their hearts to publicly forgive the perpetrators. It is the group of farmers in Paarl who started a top school for the children of farm workers to ensure they got the best education possible while their parents toiled in the vineyards. It is the farmer’s wife in Viljoenskroon who created an education and training centre for the wives of farm labourers so that they could gain the advanced skills required to operate accredited early-learning centers for their own and other children.
My South Africa is that little white boy at a decent school in the Eastern Cape who decided to teach the black boys in the community to play cricket, and to fit them all out with the togs required to play the gentelman’s game. It is the two black street children in Durban, caught on camera, who put their spare change in the condensed milk tin of a white beggar. It is the Johannesburg pastor who opened up his church as a place of shelter for illegal immigrants. It is the Afrikaner woman from Boksburg who nailed the white guy who shot and killed one of South Africa’s greatest freedom fighters outside his home.
My South Africa is the man who went to prison for 27 years and came out embracing his captors, thereby releasing them from their impending misery. It is the activist priest who dived into a crowd of angry people to rescue a woman from a sure necklacing. It is the former police chief who fell to his knees to wash the feet of Mamelodi women whose sons disappeared on his watch; it is the women who forgave him in his act of contrition. It is the Cape Town university psychologist who interviewed the ‘Prime Evil’ in Pretoria Centre and came away with emotional attachment, even empathy, for the human being who did such terrible things under apartheid.
My South Africa is the quiet, dignified, determined township mother from Langa who straightened her back during the years of oppression and decided that her struggle was to raise decent children, insist that they learn, and ensure that they not succumb to bitterness or defeat in the face of overwhelming odds. It is the two young girls who walked 20kms to school everyday, even through their matric years, and passed well enough to be accepted into university studies. It is the student who takes on three jobs, during the evenings and on weekends, to find ways of paying for his university studies.
My South Africa is the teenager in a wheelchair who works in townships serving the poor. It is the pastor of a Kenilworth church whose parishioners were slaughtered, who visits the killers and asks them for forgiveness because he was a beneficiary of apartheid. It is the politician who resigns on conscientious grounds, giving up status and salary because of an objection in principle to a social policy of her political party. It is the young lawman who decides to dedicate his life to representing those who cannot afford to pay for legal services.
My South Africa is not the angry, corrupt, violent country those deeds fill the front pages of newspapers and the lead-in items on the seven-o’-clock news. It is the South Africa often unseen, yet powered by the remarkable lives of ordinary people. It is the citizens who keep the country together through millions of acts of daily kindness.
After I read it I sat for a while thinking about MY South Africa.
I started to realise quite quickly that I used to be this person – I used to have this exact same view of, no matter how much bad there was out there, there was enough light in places to keep out the dark.
The sad truth though, if I have to be honest with myself now, is I’m not that person anymore.
I try as hard as I can to see the good in this incredible place and I’m a massively proud ambassador whenever I have to give comment on this country because I believe we deserve as much good publicity as I can get.
Our family and our business have been responsible over the years for massive quantities of people coming to South Africa and experiencing the brilliance of its lands and its peoples because we always believed that we had it in us to become a great country we just needed to be seen and experienced, and I while I still believe that, I now feel a deep sense of doom more days than not.
I feel a concern that there is too much going wrong for the good to keep it at bay. There is too much corruption, crime and injustice for us to handle and at some point the system is going to break – or have to be broken!
The government is lazy, inefficient and riddled with cheats and liars stuffing their pockets and their family’s pockets as fast as they can before they get caught, of this there is no argument. Education and healthcare are crumbling and the police force is an embarrassment in its operation and its corruption.
The system does not work and my sadness is that by not acknowledging the bad and only seeing the good is like ignoring the symptoms of a disease until its too late.
THE SYSTEM DOES NOT WORK and this countries future is in jeopardy should it continue down this path. I hope, with all the might of a young boy who dreamed of being part of a nation that could contribute on a global scale, that I am wrong but something needs to be done! Someone needs to start fixing what we are breaking and put a stake in the ground to show we cannot slip anymore.
I fear we do not have someone like this and MY South Africa may only exist in my boyhood dreams!