Another surge of Covid cases has seen Christmas effectively getting terminated for the international tourists that traditionally flock to South African shores at this time of year, but in true South African fashion, we look upon setbacks as merely that: setbacks. We embrace life with humour and are always able to see the positive, no matter how bleak things may look in the moment. We know that this too shall pass…
Not to be disheartened by the travel doom and gloom, The Daily Maverick – South Africa’s leading independent online newspaper – took to the press and released this wonderfully candid and reaffirming article, which we felt we didn’t want to try to put into our own words, as they already said it best. The writer was referring specifically to Giving Tuesday, which, according to the DM themselves is “essentially a global generosity movement where we repent for our overspending sins from Black Friday and Cyber Monday and give to those in greater need than ourselves.”
Enjoy (and UK residents please take this as tongue-in-cheek)…
Giving Tuesday is upon us.
The only thing many South Africans would like to give right now is two fingers to the UK for their knee-jerk (emphasis on jerk) reaction to the discovery of the Omicron variant by placing South Africa and our neighbours back on their travel Red List. The world followed and cut South Africa off, too.
As President Cyril Ramaphosa stated on Sunday evening: “The prohibition of travel is not informed by science.”
South Africans have become accustomed to crisis-surfing: load shedding, water shortages, insurrection(s), the pandemic, vaccine inequality, a bruised and battered economy. But the overwhelming reaction when the world cut us off (after despair) was one of pride. Social media exploded with gratitude and cheers for our epidemiologists who were the first to track TWO variants of Covid-19. And for their skills, transparency and integrity in disclosing the discovery. It was leadership.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that we have a lot to be proud of.
- South African scientists and doctors are renowned for being among the very best in the world;
- Our film industry is widely recognised as global leaders in their craft, welcoming foreign film crews who come to work with our talent and our landscapes;
- Our culinary expertise and restaurants feature in the top lists around the world;
- We breed innovation – Elon Musk and Mark Shuttleworth have changed the world of tech and are just two examples of what South Africa can produce;
- Artists and writers like Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Damon Galgut, Nadine Gordimer and Trevor Noah are South African names held on high around the world;
- We gave the world Jerusalema!;
- And then there’s the Springboks. Let’s not ever forget that we’re THREE-time world champs. Take that, England.
The best and brightest exist in this country – including the talent and grit of the journalists at Daily Maverick – and this is what we’re working every day to protect. If we can get the basics right, and ensure a functioning country for all who live here, we can all focus on creating a society where our talents flourish and thrive. No country, especially one as rich in resources and talent (and experience) as ours, should be endangered by a single travel ban.
As the move to shut international borders to South Africans showed, we’re on our own. It doesn’t have to feel as daunting as it might sound, though: if anything, every crisis we’ve survived has proved our ability to band together, knuckle down and – most importantly – help each other.
It’s hard to succinctly describe what it means to be South African. “Diverse” is one way. “Enjoys a dop and a braai” is another. But ultimately, what makes us South African is that despite our differences, when the chips are down, we’re good at standing together.
Right now, many holiday plans have been ruined, long-awaited family reunions have been postponed (again) and jobs and income have been threatened or lost. It feels like a knockout blow to a nation that was already on the ropes. And still, we support each other.
We agree wholeheartedly with their sentiments. “When the chips are down, we’re good at standing together”.
South Africa is an amazing country. Its scenic grandeur, its wildlife, its history, the fact that one man could unite 45 million people and bring them back from the brink of civil war (that’s Nelson Mandela, in case you were wondering)… Seldom before in humanity’s past has a nation been as divided as South Africa was during apartheid, yet we are still here, stronger together, building for a better future. No nation is without its struggles, and it would simply be naive to think that having come from centuries of struggle, the gap between the haves and have-nots would be bridged overnight just because of the advent of democracy. We still have a long way to go as a nation, but everywhere you look in this beautiful country it seems that people are determined to move in the right direction.
That, I think, is one of our greatest gifts. No matter what life throws at us, as a collective we stay upbeat. As individuals our humour and optimism is always evident, and even more so when you scale up to the entire country.
The heart of South Africa is its people, and the heart will always beat strongly.
When things open up once more – which they surely will do – this incredible country will be waiting to welcome international travellers back with open arms. Come and see what we’re all about!