South Africans have a rather passionate connection to any “famous” person who has a connection to our homeland. No matter where they reside now or who they assosiate with, if they’ve done someting cool, they are ours. Other people might not know of their connection but we revel in it and we claim them.
A lot of people residing in South Africa are incredibly famous (Tata Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Chris Barnard) but I’d like to look at those that are not living here and who may never have struck you as South African.
Charlize Theron is ours. Dave Matthews is ours. J.R.R Tolkein is ours. Jody Scheckter is ours. Neil Blomkamp and his friend Sharlto Copely are ours. Seether (the band) is ours. Heck, even Kevin Peters who plays cricket for England is ours (as was most of the team at one stage) we’re kinda cross about it but he’s ours.
The list is long and we can tell you all about it. These people are important to us because they have acheived things on a world stage. America and Europe have a lot of people like this but I think we are specifically passionate about this matter because South Africa was marginalised for so long. These people represent who we really are and what we can achieve and as a nation we are proud of it. Even Oprah said a few years ago that she must be Zulu so our qualities must be attractive.
Another reason these people interest me is because they do not shake the fact that they are South African despite the fact that they live abroad.
Dave Matthews “found” himself in Virginia USA but he was in JHB last night talking in a South African accent and was supported in concert by the great Hugh Masekela. Charlize (Reindeer Games) and Sharlto Copley (Elysium) couldn’t help but offer up Afrikaans as forgein languages when given the chance. Neil Blomkamp used JHB as a backdrop for the stunning District 9 and had a South African flag stuck on Sharlto’s helicopter in Elysium. J.R.R Tolkein used Elephants and Hyenas as inspiration in Lord of The Rings despite the fact that he hadn’t been here in almost a lifetime.
My point is that South Africa is within them. They don’t always shout it from the rooftops and may have left to find a better life but the identity still seeps through at the most unexpected of times. I bet you Charlize and Sharlto swear in Afrikaans. Kevin Peterson probably misses outdoor braais under sunny skies.
These foreign South Africans prove you can live wherever, and do whatever, but you can still value where you come from and how growing up here impacted on you. The Southern tip of Africa is a special place and once you’ve lived here you’re not likely to forget it.