An accidental patriot

I’m gatvol of South Africa. Gone is the

dewy-eyed optimism of those heady years of freedom when Madiba made us the envy

of the world and our Constitution marked us as a ­sophisticated African

­democracy to watch.

My nationalistic fervour was sent screaming by corruption

perpetrated by those entrusted to serve, a president whose private life

generates global ­derision and a low-grade gender war that renders laughable the

notion of freedom for women.

My dissatisfaction with Mzansi finds expression in my driving. I’ve

­considered personalised ­number plates saying: Gatvol from Gauteng. Potty

Mouthed Patty would be more appropriate.

Political correctness evaporates when I start my engine.

I’m an

equal opportunity hater. I spit expletives at tentative out-of-towners, taunt

taxis and flash snail-paced gogos.

I was an unapologetic accident ­waiting to happen until I became an

­unwitting nationalist again after ­impulsively putting a flag destined for the

bin onto my car.

That piece of multicoloured ­material has had a magical

­transformative power and an attitude adjustment ­began immediately.

I became acutely aware of other cars adorned with a South African

flag. Then I began battling the urge to wave at strangers with side mirrors

­festooned with mirror socks.

Soccer mums in X5s who once ­elicited rage in me now evoke

collegial nods if they’re flying the flag.

I give the gap to taxis bedecked in our colourful national Y-front.

I even tootle along patiently behind rattletraps with Limpopo number plates

sporting ­fluttering flags on wonky aerials.

It’s like the heady days of simunye.

Plastic and polyester have

­reinvigorated my delight at our ­diverse society, reminding me that we – rich,

poor, black, white, women, men, taxi drivers, soccer mums and psycho

­journalists – are in it together.

It has reminded me that despite scary crime ­statistics,

corruption, rape and Jacob Zuma’s embarrassing ­shenanigans, we are mostly good

­people doing our best.

We are neither defined by the ­excesses of the greedy few nor by

the deviance of those who prey on others.

We can still build the society ­envisaged in our Constitution and

Madiba still ­remains a powerful totem that inspires pride.



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