Have you noticed how fond people are of rubbishing the country every time something goes ‘wrong’? I find this particularly with those friends of mine who have left the country, for whatever reason, and are not wholly convinced that they’ve done the right thing (although they will never say as much).
The minute negative news hits the airwaves – take the Marikana mining fiasco, and consequent Lonmin share plummet, as an example (not that it is not worth the mileage it has received) – people cannot wait to paste the latest offense on FB or they send you emails filled with exclamation marks.
But there is a lot to love about South Africa. I spent time trawling the Internet to find out what others think. Here is a list, in no particular order, of the reasons why South Africans (and visitors) love South Africa:
1. Sunshine! And a lot of it…you don’t find blue skies like this in Europe, or Canada, or New Zealand (okay, maybe in Oz – we’ll allow that…)
2. Bushveld – big 5 country, a vast expanse of acacia trees, dry sand, the occasional water hole, the sighting of elephant, buffalo, wildebeest, zebra, lion…
3. Afrikaner hospitality – no better place than round a braai with a beer in your hand, followed by pap en sous, sugared sweet potato and maybe a four-bean salad (the vegetable afterthought)
4. Highveld thunderstorms – nothing like that rolling, slate-grey approach, and the smell of the earth after rain
5. Bunny chows – Durban‘s famous hollowed out half loaves stuffed with curry is half the reason people return home
6. We don’t have a nuclear weapons programme – we might have a nuclear power station or two, but we’re the only nation to voluntarily dismantle our nuclear weapons
7. Table Mountain – one of the most recognisable icons, and one of the oldest mountains in the world
8. Incredible landscapes – the Drakensberg, the Tsitsikamma, theKaroo, the Panorama Route, and innumerable mountain passes
9. Shosholoza – the one song we all love to get wrong
10. The kreepy crawly, Pratley’s putty, cats-eyes and Dolosse blocks – we invented them all
11. Open roads and free parking (most of the time)
12. The toyi-toyi – because nobody dances quite like an oppressed or celebrating African
13. The price of coffee and petrol – because, despite the hike in price of oil, both are still a lot more expensive elsewhere
14. Taxis – where would we be without all that bass?
15. SA English – is peppered with bits and pieces of the other official language
16. Our flag – the only national flag in the world with six colours
17. Platinum – we produce 80% of the world’s platinum
18. Wine – we have over 17 ‘official’ wine routes countrywide, claim the longest wine route (R62), and are among the top ten wine producing countries, in the world
19. Missing front teeth and horse drawn carts
20. Mrs Balls Chutney, biltong, Ouma rusks and Koffeehuis
21. Slap chips (in the UK chips are crisps and slap chips are chips, but in USA they’re fries)
22. Nandos – for its controversial marketing and for exporting the brand overseas
23. Flat vowels – where else in the world?
24. Jacarandas in Pretoria
25. Nelson Mandela
26. Our constitution – one of the most liberal and free constitutions in the world
27. Kief, lekker, shweet – nowhere else will you hear this except, maybe, on a tube in London
28. Cape Town
29. Whales on the coastlines of the country
30. 8 World Heritage Sites
31. Windmills of the Karoo – SA has something like 290 000 windmills throughout the country, second only in number to Australia
32. We got the World Cup right!
33. Shopping at the robots – anything from hats to wire art up for grabs