Although his somewhat laid-back approach to life sometimes caused my mother too instantly turn grey, my father always taught me to stay positive and present a smile despite the situation. Over these past few weeks however, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to do so with all the horrific acts being committed both locally and internationally. The US shootings in Connecticut cost 28 people their lives making it the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. The public rape and murder of a woman in India made global head-lines and brought a nation to tears. Finally, the death of racing hero, Burry Stander, has led to a nationwide outcry for justice and change. Furthermore, we South Africans are facing an unravelling government, a constantly striking labour force and a steadily growing crime-rate.
After all of this had been said and done, I started to search for some reasons why we as South Africans should still be smiling. I felt it important to remind all South Africans that we are blessed.
1. The South African:
Your first reason to smile is because you are a South African. I have been fortunate enough to go on a number of overseas trips and whether you come across Westerners or Europeans, one thing they generally all agree on is that we South Africans are extremely friendly and fun to be around.
Let’s just make it clear that if you contribute to crime in anyway, you are NOT a South African, you are a flea on a dog.
Just the fact that we as South Africans are exposed to so many different languages, cultures and religions is a reason to smile. Growing-up I spent weekends visiting friends in Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu households. There are things to be learnt all around us and from each other, not to mention all the great food.
South Africa has produced countless stars, from performing artists such as and Charlize Theron and ‘Die Antwoord’, to business tycoon Mark Shuttleworth and comedian Trevor Noah. South Africa has talent to offer, without a doubt!
I’ve put sport by itself because South Africa as a country has a huge sporting culture. Currently our test cricket team is number one in the world while several sporting stars such as Chad le Clos shin in an individual capacity. Individuals like Ernie Els and Victor Matfield have provided years of entertainment and I see nothing but a bright future for South African sports across all disciplines, so smile.
5. Fauna and Flora:
It is no secret that South Africa has much to offer in this regard. South Africa is the only country which contains all six floral kingdoms. The Cape Floral Kingdom for example has 9,600 plant species, 70% of which aren’t found anywhere else in the world. On Table Mountain alone it is believed that there are over 1,500 species of plants, more than the entire United Kingdom. On the other hand, The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent. These are just two examples of locations where there is much to be seen. Finally, approximately 900 bird species are found in South Africa alone, which represents 10% of the world’s total bird species
The South African coastline stretches more than 2500kms from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast to the border with Mozambique on the Indian Ocean. Apart from the many breath-taking views and locations, our coastlines boast a vast marine life as well as catering for the needs of extreme sportsmen and women. South Africa hosts various international surfing competitions as well as other sporting events.
Another reason for us as South Africans to smile is our well performing tourism sector. This serves as proof for what we can offer. Every year thousands flock to our shores. The Department of Tourism aims to increase the industry's contribution to the economy from R189 billion in 2009 to R499 billion by 2020. Ultimately we have more than enough to offer.
Regardless of all the negativity seen in our newspapers and pain felt on our streets, we as South African still have a lot of reasons to keep smiling.