Monday 1 June 2015

South Africa: The postscript

Not to my liking
One of the big revelations I had with visiting South Africa was that I had very high expectations and I basically had to demand that standards rise to meet them.
This was first with attitudes, then service and other minor irksome things that one could well do without. It transpired that I visited South Africa more as a European than as a black man.
Very little of what I had to show in expression or desire was African, yet in many cases, where black South Africans met me, they first defaulted to one of the local languages until I intimated that I did not belong.
In any case
In fact, the honest truth is I did not attempt to belong, adapt or imbibe and it made for a slightly unpleasant experience for me. Suffice it to say, I will not be on the next all-frills free junket to South Africa for much, if I could help it.
I did eventually encounter some good South African hospitability and friendliness, but it was well too late for my first impressions to be supplanted, the lazy, laidback, uncaring, lackadaisical pace to what we Europeans have fought to be serious about was just not to my liking.
If anything, I will much prefer Cape Town and its seeming quaint English town look, the people compared to the many Johannesburg residents seemed a bit more friendly and fun. My 11-hour stay quite made up for what I decidedly endured for two weeks.
Not at ease
Along with the other elements of society that left me quite torn and sad as the poverty, the insidious segregation by reason of means and opportunity, the unfortunate state of leadership that seemed to be in it for themselves and worse still that two people on a protest died at the nuzzle of police guns, in one week, the beauty of such a wonderful creation of nature and nurture can never compensate for the grinding reality of the majority of South Africans.
I went to help solve problems by meeting people and understanding what issues they encounter daily in the performance of their duties. What knowledge I gained was more than useful, it was very helpful and quite needful too. I met a few people I would be happy to call friends and some others about whom the least is said the better.
My conclusion
I doubt I will recommend a visit to South Africa to anyone except under extreme duress, but hey, that is just one opinion out the millions that will no doubt think much differently about that great country.
The scars and wounds still run deep and it is with every hope and consideration that I will say again, 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' – God Bless Africa!

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