One thing that I was weary of when writing this piece was how difficult it is these days to express an opinion without being dragged on social media or offending someone.
I’m not sure why but, in recent years, it seems as though there has been a lot of negativity in the air, not just within the walls of the university but within the country as a whole. Yes, there are many reasons to be despondent about our country, given all of the political, social and economic issues that we are bombarded with on a daily basis. There are, however, many things that we as South Africans can be proud of, with regard to the country as a whole and, most importantly, with respect to the people that we interact with every day.
As someone who has had the privilege of being able to travel outside of our borders, I can honestly say that there is no place like home. The people are what make the country and, in most cases, we are the friendliest and most welcoming people anywhere in the world. It’s that compassion that makes tourists rave about how great we are. So, why is it difficult for us to extend those same courtesies to each other?
South Africa is a place with great diversity and cultural influences. From our languages, people and food, to sport and music, our country has become known as a “rainbow nation” due to the melting pot of cultures that really makes South Africa a place I am proud to call home.
The diversity of the people is something that is very unique to our nation and something that should be celebrated rather than frowned upon. The fact that we are able to interact with people from all walks of life and, for the most part, accommodate everyone’s beliefs and traditions, is something that many other countries aspire to and commend us for.
As someone who is passionate about sport and the power that it can have in uniting people, I always think of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. That, for me, was one of the best times to be a South African. It was a time when all of the country’s problems seemed to just melt away and everyone was united.
Although Bafana Bafana did what they do best and disappointed us, the camaraderie among South Africans carried on long after the home team had been eliminated. South Africans began to rally behind other African nations, such as Ghana, that still had a chance of winning the tournament.
However, in the years since that amazing time, xenophobia has been a major issue in the country and people seem to have lost that sense of togetherness and support for one another. There have been many reported instances of racism, and it baffles me that in this day and age there are people who still think that they are better than others based on the colour of their skin.
While this might be a very idealistic and naïve view on the country at the moment, the fact is that we were united once, in the not-too-distant past, so why can’t we be united again?