The problem with South Africa

So this is an old post that I never really published. I still don’t know if I really want to. A few months ago I started playing around with the idea of moving to London to enhance my career. Before that, I had not even given living abroad a second thought. It’s because I’m from Cape Town.

Growing up in this amazing city has been hands down one of the best experiences of my life so far. And that’s why I never really left. And why would I? The beautiful, picture-perfect blue skies, white sandy beaches, laid back vibe and of course.. the enviable mountain… everything is chilled. We have it all. I had it all. And that’s not even the start of it.

If it wasn’t for my passion for digital marketing and my place in it, specifically, I would never have left Cape Town and moved. And let me tell you why.

Yes, this is another post about how awesome Cape Town is. And you’re going to read it.

There is a lot of Cape Town that is still unspoiled. It’s a fucking beautiful place. And when you visit another city and come back to Cape Town, you’ll know this is true. You don’t even have to venture outside of South Africa, just go to Joburg and come back. The first sight of Table Mountain from the airplane when you approach Cape Town International airport is enough to make you realise that you live in a magical city. When I talk about unspoiled, I mean the natural beauty as well as the suburban bliss. The suburbs are all relatively new, and for that reason many houses and housing blocks are relatively new. And that is a major element that contributes to your standard of living and ultimately your quality of life. Then of course, there’s the rugged, African landscapes when you drive just a few km’s outside the city that for some reason has managed to retain its untouched beauty even though so many humans have passed through it.

You can make your house a home. You can’t do that if you live in a city anywhere else. It’s small, cramped and over-populated. And space? Space is a luxury that many South Africans take for granted.

Also, you can drive literally anywhere you want to. Owing to the fact that the public transport system is shit in Cape Town, it has made getting a drivers’ license a natural item on your to do list to becoming an adult. Do you even know anyone in this day and age who does not know how to drive? In many cities, learning how to drive is not compulsory so not everyone bothers to get a drivers’ license. And even if you can drive and can afford a car, you won’t be able to drive it to work every day (as you do now), because you will need to pay a congestion fee. Cape Town doesn’t have that rule. So next time  you’re circling Kloof Street for parking, remember how lucky you are that you can actually do just that.

There’s a sense of belonging in Cape Town. And this is why most Joburgers call us cliquey. Capetonians all stick together, and when you make friends with other Capetonians, they become your friends for life. No matter how many times a week you see them, or how many times you leave, Capetonians will welcome you with koeksisters and samoosas (sweet and savoury mos) on the airport. And I honestly don’t know if I’ve seen that anywhere else in the world.

It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to make you feel something.

Wanna know what I see when I look back at my hometown? I see a country that is the true definition of an emerging market. I see beauty, culture, wealth, diversity and …opportunity. Yes, opportunity. There’s great opportunity for this country to become everything that you want it to be, but it’s not going to change itself. I might be naïve in thinking this, but you don’t need a governing body to work in order to live a full quality life in South Africa. If you’re not happy with something, then change it. Or at least make an effort to.

The thing is, I have gotten so sick of hearing the same thing from everyone: “Things are just better outside of South Africa.” Yes, maybe it is. Maybe other countries have public transport systems that are actually efficient. And maybe they have governments that actually work for them, to better the city for its people and not to pocket the money for their own personal gain. Maybe it is safer in another country, and less polluted and maybe there are more jobs for new graduates. Maybe, there’s a constant and stable supply of electricity. Maybe the economy is better somewhere else and maybe there is a better future for your children in another country. But even so, what then? You’re just going to move and adjust to someone else’s culture, living someone else’s life, in someone else’s country. When are South Africans going to realise that the problem with South Africa is not South Africa, the problem with South Africa is its people.

Forget all the reasons why it won’t work, and remember the one reason why it will.