You can travel the whole world but, I promise you, no place on Earth will match the beauty that is South Africa. Just like several other African countries, our country has been through a lot, but when it comes to keeping things fresh, hilarious and slightly spicy, South Africa is the best place to extend your vacation from two weeks to… FOREVER.
In the midst of the all the unfortunate events such as femicide, weak currency, a failing economy, unemployment and, more recently, COVID-19, I wanted to share with you guys why I love being South African. There is so much that makes me proud that I don’t even think I could consider packing my bags and leaving (unlike some people).
Below is a comprehensive list of things that make me proud to be a South African, and falling in love over and over with my country. Perhaps some of you, hopefully, might be able to relate with this:
We are generally super friendly: There has never been a moment where I met another South African who was not interested in making small talk about something mundane, like the weather. South Africans make friends faster than you can actually say “best friends forever”! Because many of us have been raised to treat each person like a neighbour, (“it takes a village…etc” and “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu) we always take the time to greet each other and exchange pleasantries as if we have the same family doctor.
We turn the worst situations into funny moments: Be it Bafana Bafana or politics, death or coronavirus, we know how to make light of trying situations. From comedians like Trevor Noah, Kagiso Lediga and Nick Robinowitz, to the infamous virtual streets of Black Twitter – we love to laugh with and at each other. It’s a gift if you ask me. South Africans could be going through the worst drought and you’d still manage to find everyone laughing about it and trading niceties on social media.
Always lending a helping hand: Remember when you thought people just take and take, and never give anything back? Well you are wrong! South Africans use social media as a way to connect with the rest of the world and as such, in the midst of laughing at our misfortune, we take the time to help those in need. We make calls to donate to single moms, to school kids, feeding the homeless and running marathons in the hopes to donate towards causes that make South Africa a better place. Still not convinced? How about that time we made #KFCWedding trend and organised a whole wedding, gifts and a honeymoon through the power of social media? Yes, sometimes we may not exactly know where our tax money goes and it does little to improve the country, BUT we are always there to help.
South Africa is the most diverse country in the world: With 11 official languages, it’s almost unfathomable to be South African and not know how to speak at least two of them (this also includes tsotsi-taal). We have found a way to reinvent the way we speak to one another seamlessly regardless of which Tsonga phrase you manage to hlokoloza in a sentence – oksalayo, jy verstaan my mos!
A food baby is a way to show love: Food is a universal love language in our country, and you can find some of the best cuisine on the continent right here in South Africa (change my mind!). My favourite dish is being tripe and morogo which can often be found in the canteen ko kasi or in your local weekend market, but I think it’s best enjoyed in the northern parts of South Africa from where the dish originates. I especially appreciate that when it comes to being a good guest and local etiquette, eating as much of the food on offer is actually considered good table manners – literally no one will judge how much you’ve eaten!
Every city and province has something different to offer: Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal – what do all of these have in common? Absolutely nothing! They’re all unique and tell their own stories through expansive landscapes, music, cultures and the people.
Home-brewed music: South Africans are known for coming up with their own genres every decade. We had kwaito, we had hip-hop, then gqom was a huge thing, and now we have Mapiano, or the “yanos” as the millennials like to call it. We can take any sort of instrument or beat, turn into art and watch as everyone falls in love with rhythm and gets lost on the dancefloor! This type of creativity has blessed us with gems such as Sho Madjozi who took her Tsonga upbringing and allowed it to inspire her musical career, incorporating it into to various sounds that have now taken the globe by storm.
Most of us are allies of the LGBTQI: Don’t get me wrong, some South Africans still has a long way to go with regards to understanding and accepting the ideals sexuality, gender and identity, however, we are working towards something that will change the narrative! And what better place to foster and nurture that change than in a country with the most accommodating laws in support of the LGBTQI community? Inclusivity is changing the way we work, converse and identify with the world and I am a proud ally of the LGBTQI community. Unlike other African countries (where the ignorance is real), many South Africans are increasingly open to supporting, accepting and protecting people who don’t abide by sexual and gender normative constructs and I am HERE. FOR. IT!!
A sense of community: With a lot of negative things happening around us, there are always people on social media, in our communities, at work, school and churches ready to offer a helping hand. We are known for our warmth as a nation and always trying to make our people laugh no matter the demographic.
At the end of the day, working towards a South Africa we can all proudly call home requires constant work and dedication on behalf of each and every one of us. The only thing remaining, however, is for people to acknowledge our past so that we can all have conversations that project us towards a better future. In short – IT IS UP TO US.