Nadia Padayachi

Are we proudly South African?

2004-11-19 10:41

I've shared digs for a few months with a Motswana who was studying here.

(A Motswana is a resident of Botswana, Batswana is the plural)

We have a lot to learn from Botswana. It fascinates me at how interested, or rather infatuated they are with their country.

She was inspired and passionate about everything from her country, from economic developments to new industries. Patriotic beyond belief.

Every Motswana I know is a true ambassador.

If they don't know, they'll find out.

While having a conversation with her, if she didn't know some small detail about her country, she'd make a point of asking the next time she spoke to her family.

The Proudly South African campaign has started to change the mindset of South Africans similar to the way in which the black consciousness movement did for us decades ago.

It has been fantastic for us in the way it promotes and rewards economic growth to empower all.

It's time to take this one step further - to kindle the human spirit of South Africans. The benefits would surpass those of what the campaign has only just begun with.

Potential to evolve

I'm sure the people heading the campaign now realize that it has the potential to evolve into so much more.

It starts with our children, and teaching them this kind of ethos and incorporating this into our youth culture. Schools now encourage acceptance of people with different backgrounds.

It's time not to only celebrate it, but to learn more about this and to incorporate it into today.

It's not about teaching, but more about cultivating curiosity.

Steve Biko t-shirts

It has begun in a way - have you seen those Steve Biko t-shirts? Many of these youngsters don't know who they are wearing on their chests never his significance.

Che Guevara is another perfect example of this. The Cuban revolutionary has lost his significance. Mass produced 'memorabilia' on street corners and stores sell stuff emblazoned with that one iconic portrait.

Visit Robben Island, the Apartheid museum, the Voortrekker monument or experience a township tour if you've never been. Start as a tourist in your own city/town/dorp regardless of who you are. It's our history - we wouldn't be the powerful nation we are today if things were easy.

The proudly South African campaign should drive this.

It's not just about knowing our history and diverse cultures. We should know the intricacies, the details.

We all have an interest in our country and anything that happens in it. Why does South Africa have a nuclear power station? Koeberg affects everyone and is so dangerous, but desperately needed.

These issues may insignificant and small but they are not. They affect us in many more ways that people care to acknowledge. Our attitude is too blasé.

We can't always rely on the media to inform us, we have to have the hunger to learn.

Perhaps I'm being too idealistic, but being proudly South African is more than just a campaign. It's a holistic way of living in this country. It's an emotion of warmth, passion and pride. It's knowing who we are and what we represent as a nation.

A greater sense of identity can only begin with knowing this.

Nadia Padayachi is a publicist at a Cape Town publicity agency. She feels passionate about her country, but no way near how the Batswana feel about theirs. She aims to be like them one day.

Send your comments to Nadia

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