When I am feeling particular satisfied with life, and generally sitting outdoors under South African skies, I often sarcastically say “It’s a hard day in Africa.” Everyone around me laughs or nod in appreciation because while watching a braai crackle and hearing birds sweet while sitting under a green tree is most people’s idea of a perfect place to be.
When I consider how negative people are about Africa and South Africa that sarcastic comment is one I revel in. More often that I appreciate I am truly blessed to be living on this Southern tip of the “dark” continent.
What is great is that I know that my joy in SA is not exclusive because the tree is in suburbia. I know that there are millions of South Africans who are living more or less a good enough life. Society has it’s polarity between it’s rich and poor. The haves and the have nots and those who want at all cost. Those who want at all cost are either incredibly ambitious and dazzle despite their circumstances and then there are those who revert to crime which is obviously a problem.
But where I am under my tree, and the postal clerk or gardener or cleaner are under their tree or in their neat little yard, life in Africa is not hard at all. Because despite our troubles, and our polarity and our economic gap, most people are really satisfied. Maslow would be proud when I say that a roof over your head is a roof over your head no matter where it is. Food in your stomach is a full tummy whether it’s lobster or chicken. I can’t afford lobster and so I like a good roast chicken – and I’m happy.
In fact, it’s the poorer communities that are often happier. Their “little” house has all the space they need and they don’t have to pay off a large mortgage. If they need help their family will band together and support them. Unlike a lot of wealthy people who end up fighting over wills or divorce settlements.
It’s a weird place where dusty children playing soccer with a tattered ball in the street are having more fun than the child who wants another Xbox game. But then there is also the more privileged child who delights in filling a Santa Shoebox near the end of the year because he know he’s helping someone who needs it.
So, no matter who you are around here – and here we are, you can be truly content in this amazing country of generous and friendly people. I won’t let the politicians and the power utility get me down because I could be somewhere else. But I like my tree, and I like my free range chicken on the braai and I love the sun which will come up every morning and make it warmer all year round than in most other places.