Are you representing SA well?

2016-04-01 20:37

I'm a member of a few international travel groups on facebook and I recently saw the scariest thing ever - a member said she met a South African guy who invited her to SA but told her it's a bit dangerous for white people.

I couldn't understand why a South African would say something like that. When it comes to racial issues we are not living in a colour-blind, post-racial era but we have come a long way.

As a South African I consider myself as “brand ambassador” for my country. It's my duty to educate people who are interested in learning about my culture and country. But, after countless dialogues with people abroad and it has become clear that most don't know anything about our beloved country and the media isn't helpful. Western Media dominates our media, yet they are less exposed to news from our country or maybe they don't really care. It's actually crazy how most South African's know a lot about countries like the US even though they've never been.

I was in Turkey for 2 months and not once did they say anything on the news about #FeesMustFall yet everytime there was a bombing in Turkey my friends and family would call and ask if I'm okay because it's all over the news in SA.

I sat next to a Mexican man on a flight to Greece. He was asking me about Nelson Mandela and he didn't believe me when I told him he had passed away a few years ago.

It's so important to research and let go of stereotypes before travelling to another country and next time you meet someone who doesn't know much about SA, share this with them:

• There is no “best season” to visit SA… because ALL seasons have unique experiences to offer!

• South Africa is known as a 'rainbow nation’ because of its cultrural diversity. We have 11 official languages and most South Africans are multilingual.

• Yes, we have high crime rates and extremely high electric fence walls but did you know South Africa is the only country to have developed nuclear weapons and then voluntarily given them up later. Fortunately we never have terrorism attacks.

• We are the world's 7th largest wine producer. Our vineyards account for 4% of global wine output and SA is home to the largest wine cellar in the world - The 22-hectares KWV Cellars in Paarl, Western Cape.The wine industry is biggest permanent employer in agriculture and contributes 2% to our GDP.

• Most people live here but have never been to the "safari". So when you do go, look out for the big five and make sure you don't hunt and kill our animals - we don't take that lightly.

• Our constitution is one of the best in the world, it considers basic human rights and it was one of the first in the world to allow gay marriages.

• Yes, Cape Town is beautiful but it's so touristy. We have 9 provinces and other amazing cities to explore.

When meeting people remember that small things make a great impact. Every country has it's problems and even if you don't like the president at least pretend to be proudly South African.

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