consider myself to be a pretty patriotic person.
I was working overseas last year I would enthral foreigners with stories of my
African adventures, playing up the unrivalled beauty of our landscape and the
diverse cultures that populate our nation.
would impress them with stories of ubuntu and awe them with the tales of our
countries’ heroes who did away with the colonial shackles of our past.
nagged with ignorant assumptions about crime and questioned about the massive
social divide, I would tilt my head back and let out a condescending laugh that
said “how little you know of our country and what we have overcome.”
was part of the new generation I told them; the colour-blind children that
would pick up where our heroes left off, nurturing their ideals and fostering
would patiently explain how all countries experience crime and that we just
needed to be careful, belittling ex-South Africans for running away and missing
the best and brightest years of our history.
now I am home, and suddenly I’m not feeling so patriotic anymore.
haven’t returned to the rainbow nation I so ardently defended. There are no
colour-blind children ready to wipe clean the wrongs of the past, no heroes
left to fight for our future, no spirit of ubuntu to share the wealth of our
land, and no excuse for the violent crime that runs rampant on our city
I lived in Switzerland I didn’t know where we kept our house key, here I
incessantly lock the doors that guard my possessions.
arm my home with metal bars and electrified wires and walk to work clutching my
bag, waiting for someone to snatch from me what they don’t have.
country is polarized by our inequality.
I have been home, I have been mugged, harassed and scared with stories of rape
and senseless murder flooding my newsfeed.
night my car was stolen outside a restaurant in Greenpoint and now I lie awake,
waiting for the thieves to work out where I live from the house-keys that were
in my cubby-hole.
underestimate the importance of feeling secure, bargaining with our lives for a
bigger home and a better climate because we don’t want to leave.
don’t want to be like the expats I ridiculed, running away from our problems to
a country that is not our own.
let’s stay and be our own heroes.
captivate tourists with our own tales of bravery and our own courageous ideals.
raise a generation of Madiba’s and Biko’s.
I promise, it’s a lot more fun mocking bitter expats when you have a country
you can be proud of.
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