Guest Column

Our country is beautiful - warts and all

2019-08-03 09:00
City of Johannesburg

City of Johannesburg (iStock)

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We are in this together, every single South African working towards a common goal to be a better version of ourselves, and the only way we'll get through this is together, writes Good Things Guy founder Brent Lindeque.

It's the end of another month and the start of the tumble towards the end of the year. Debit orders are sucking our accounts dry and the news around the water cooler is dire, even on a good day.

The news reminds us daily that the economy is on the brink of breaking to the point that we may never recover from it. We're constantly hearing about how investors are pulling out of the country and just this week, stats on the tragic unemployment rate were released.

The mood of the country is tired; it feels like most of us have lost hope and are just trying to scrape by to make it to another day.

Mainstream media can often make us feel like we're on the losing side of a long battle with stories of racism, hate and crime filling our news feeds daily and making us feel such despair. But the truth is that those stories are only one side of the South African coin and in reality, we have so many things to celebrate.

Good Things Guy was a platform I created to showcase the good things happening in our beautiful country; to try to offer some balance to South Africans who often feel completely overwhelmed. I honestly believe that where there is bad, there will always be good, and the countless stories of ordinary South Africans doing extraordinary deeds are proof of this!

Remember the petrol attendant who gave away his own money to make sure that a random stranger would get home safely? Or that family who gave their car to a street newspaper salesman without wanting anything in return? There was also Vincent Cosa, a man who went viral on social media after bravely putting his life at risk to save a child from a raging river.

These are examples of just three of the more than 2 000 that we published in 2019 alone.

In the first half of the year, "ja well no fine" and "ubuntu" were added to the international Oxford Dictionary, we celebrated together after a tiny South African beach restaurant was named the world's best and we were reminded that we can be the solution to a problem after a Durban company employed 45 homeless people to help it advertise its brand.

I am not saying that life is not harsh in South Africa and I am not negating the fact that we struggle daily with high crime rates, political instability, HIV and the declining quality of government services in certain provinces, but I believe that there is a balance in life and news, and most of all, I believe there is always some good!

I also believe that sharing good news stories can change the mood and the internal narrative we all have of South Africa, but these stories alone cannot determine the current state of the nation. With many of our friends and family leaving the country for "greener pastures" and emigration sales becoming a standard on our social media feeds, it can feel challenging to be optimistic about the future of the country.

Perspective is needed!

After speaking to many people about South Africa, I have realised more than anything that even though the mood of the country may feel tired and hopeless, the truth is that the majority of the nation are incredibly positive about living here if you give them the space to talk about it! Many who have had internal conversations with themselves about the country are changing their own perspectives and seeing the potential, opportunities and life beyond the news.

Lee Brammall, a South African who left the country in 1999 but returned six years later, gained a new perspective when choosing to move back. She believes the common thread that resonates with us all is the beauty of SA and the beauty of its people, as well as our kindness.

"So if kindness is something we are known for, then I'm proud as hell. The day I landed on South African soil again was one of the happiest days of my life; the street vendors, the birds, the trees, the crickets and frog sounds at night, the kindness! There's no beating around about how we struggle as well. Crime, jobs, despicable taxis, all the government issues and the list goes on, but I guess I'd rather struggle in beauty and with really cool people than in ugly places with miserable moaners. Love our country, warts and all," Brammall proudly states.

Thapelo Radebe, another South African who commented, believes there is something special in our country, a certain magic in the air, something that you feel most when you are sitting by the dying embers of a braai fire watching the sunset. It's something that unites us and makes you never want to leave this place.

Ivy Bedworth, a South African resident who has lived here all her life, believes that South Africans make the country so incredible.

"The people. Our country is beautiful, I agree, but it's the people who've made me stay. We're full of hope, and we're kind, helpful, friendly, hospitable, generous, loving, and inclusive. Whenever I read stories of the hate in other parts of the world, I think that won't happen here," Bedworth explains.

Bedworth and her family thought of leaving South Africa in the 1970s, but when they came back and saw the smiling faces at the airport, they immediately found reasons to stay.

"In 1994, when two of my kids voted for the first time and we saw the joy and friendliness in the long lines at the voting stations, we knew we were right. Now my grandkids are being raised in the new world we made here."

Fatima Valiallah Bhyat, a South African who never wants to live anywhere else, loves our diversity, hospitality, our ability to get through anything and the ability to stand united when the need arises! She also loves our beautiful and colourful unique culture and the fact that we are the only nation in the world who knows how to make an awesome braai.

There's also another side to our country, one that can definitely alter our perspective; South Africa through the eyes of a tourist!

Amelia Goodhead, an international lifestyle and travel blogger from the UK, recently visited South Africa for the first time. She has travelled the world over and has openly said that both the Komodo Dragon Islands and Finland are her top travel destinations. But since seeing South Africa, the influential writer has listed the country as her ultimate number one go-to travel spot!

"South Africa is a place I'd wanted to visit for so long, but nothing quite prepared me for when I actually got there. The friendliness of the people, the wonders of the bush, the bustle of the cities and the whole vibe in general. I've travelled to a lot of places in this world, but South Africa has hit the top spot and sits proudly up there for so many reasons. It was the best trip I've ever taken and I really hope I have the opportunity to come back and do it all again."

Wendy Pfeiffer, another traveller from abroad, found South Africa as a holiday destination quite late in her life but has visited nine times in the last three years. She is already planning her next trip. She believes that she is more at home here than her actual home overseas.t

These are just a few testaments that talk to the positivity of the country, but they are all proof that when South Africans (and tourists) are given the space to celebrate and be hopeful about the country... they generally do.

We are in this together, every single South African working towards a common goal to be a better version of ourselves, and the only way we'll get through this is together!

It's not all bad, and there is always some good!

Our duty is to change our own internal narrative and give each other the platform to celebrate our country.

Wishing you only good things... always.

- Brent Lindeque is founder of Good Things Guy.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. 

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