Why this whitey is staying

2008-04-17 00:00

It’s better to remain silent and be thought the fool, said Abraham Lincoln, I believe, than to speak out and remove all doubt.

The Internet and those ghastly blogs give voices to all those who shouldn’t speak, let alone write. I’m no William Shakespeare by any stretch of the imagination, but at least anything sent out for public consumption enjoys the scrutiny of a spell check and an editor. What annoys me far more than poor grammar, bad spelling and the incessant use of slang is the ongoing negativity. When are South Africans going to get over themselves?

“We should cancel the 2010 Soccer World Cup.” I agree, we should rather host the World Cup of Moaning — we’ll win. We do little else. When so much good has occurred, why do we always focus on the bad?

I must say that I like Thabo Mbeki. There! I don’t understand politics and don’t care about it. I like his gentle voice, poetic speeches and his handsome face. He’s a gentleman. I like our president — it’s a choice. To me it’s part of being proudly South African. I battle with the idea of liking Jacob Zuma and his machine gun, but if I’m going to live here I have to learn to live with him. His people love him so he can’t be all bad. It will only make me miserable if I don’t. No one else cares really. If I moan, I only anger myself and spread the negativity.

“Life was so much better under the previous government,” I hear and read everywhere. Of course life was good. Life is always good for the tick while it’s still on the dog. Pardon the analogy, but it is the truth. And this big bad black dog we feared so much turned out to be far more the Labrador than the Doberman, if you ask me.

“Times are much harder now, crime, violence, poverty are out of control,” we hear. Of course they are. This is a revolution, not a Sunday picnic. Can you think of any revolution in the history of the human race (the only race, by the way) that ran so smoothly? Look at the gory bloodshed of the French Revolution and that was in a homogeneous society (I imagine Bloem students nodding in agreement, they always knew those Frenchmen were moffies). Of course there’ll be hardship, but we have to suck it up, I’m afraid. If we’re going to stay, we have to accept this.

“You cannot blame everything on apartheid,” moaner choruses lament. A colleague used to put it very nicely: “We made the poo we’re sitting in,” he said. When are we going to grow up and become accountable, I wonder? We cannot change the past, but we must acknowledge it and do our best to make the future better.

In 2005, I enjoyed the privilege of a Rotary Group study exchange to Australia. It was divine. Australia is all it’s cracked up to be. On the flight home, I sat next to a doctor now living in Melbourne. He lambasted South Africa and only had praise for Australia. His points were all quite valid.

Unexpectedly, the movie Yesterday came on. I was mesmerised. That is why I won’t leave, not because I have rights, but because I didn’t choose to be born here. I don’t believe in coincidence. It’s easy to leave. It’s harder to stay, keep the faith and face my duty.

I’ll be the last one here, the one to turn out the lights, as they used to say or, well, blow out the candle.

• Annette Harms is the general manager of a local software company. She writes in her personal capacity.

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