'Crime in SA scares me'

Moving back to South Africa, Georgie Marques battles to adjust to the senseless crime consuming our country.

I consider myself to be a pretty patriotic person.

When 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.

I 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.

When 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.”

I 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 their beliefs.

I 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.

But now I am home, and suddenly I’m not feeling so patriotic anymore.

I 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 streets.

When I lived in Switzerland I didn’t know where we kept our house key, here I incessantly lock the doors that guard my possessions.

I 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.

Our country is polarized by our inequality.

Since I have been home, I have been mugged, harassed and scared with stories of rape and senseless murder flooding my newsfeed.

 Last 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.

We 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.

We don’t want to be like the expats I ridiculed, running away from our problems to a country that is not our own.

So let’s stay and be our own heroes.

Let’s captivate tourists with our own tales of bravery and our own courageous ideals.

Let’s raise a generation of Madiba’s and Biko’s.

Because 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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