Where true spirit can be visualised

I had the pleasure of going to the Cape Town 7s Rugby this past weekend. I had never been before and was excited from the beginning. I enjoy rugby a lot and I LOVE Cape Town Greenpoint stadium. It’s beautiful, though I had not had the pleasure to actually attend an event there yet so I was really pleased that I could go for the first time.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the whole day (other than I was sure that my husband and I would have a good time) and I am delighted to say that I was blown away by the event, the organisers, the players and the people.

The whole event is like one big festive really but instead of having a parade you watch 14 very fit athletes show off their skills. Everywhere you looked and went felt like a party. Despite the blistering heat people were dressed up in all kinds of crazy costumes and looked absolutely delighted. Everywhere you looked people were having a great time and cheering the teams on or having their own little games. One group built a cup tower which spanned from the bottom to the top of the stadium. There must have been 1000s of cups. It might seem like a silly thing but it enchanted the stadium and we all gasped when the tower eventually fell down. A lot of people travelled through the stands and we had quite a few visits from people dressed up in crazy outfits and it was so fun chatting to them. Everyone was polite and friendly and we wanted to all share in a good time.

The organisers though efficient were also very relaxed and even the security were rebranded as stewards so as to give the impression that there were there to help. I was lucky enough to sit near one of the main access points to the field where a lot of different people have to come and go and it was great how friendly they were to the guards and the guards to them. Once again, it’s a small thing but watching security to engage in an overly positive way  was refreshing.

I though the number and variety of food stands was also really great. I love a boerewors roll at an event but it would have been hard going if those and hamburgers were the only options available to us for two whole days.  While you could get excellent hamburgers there were also fresh wraps, burritos and fruit available from a variety of food trucks. Queues where never long when I went out and I’m really grateful to the organisers for figuring out this part of eventing. If you wanted snacks you could buy crisps, biltong, ice cream and popcorn from the vendors walking in the stands. So easy.

So in general the vent was really great though the absolute highlight was the fact that a lot for the teams took the time to walk around the entire stadium and thank the crowd for their support. It wasn’t just a quick lap of honour, they would take the time to talk to fans and sign autographs and one player even handed out his kit. My South African pride shone when I saw foreign players thank us for being so positive and festive and supportive during the event. Once again proving that South African’s are friendly and our nature is contagious.

Bring more of the world to Africa. We’ll sort you out with a party and a smile and probably a few beers and super yum food. In the sunshine. or the rain. Just come. We’re always waiting

Shosholoza

Shosholoza is a song which I heard for the first time in 1995. It somehow become one of the anthems of the Rugby World cup we were fortunate to host. Yes, that world cup that brought a nation together.

I LOVE the song. I try to incite its singing within the crowd every time I’m at a live rugby match and I get the chills every time I hear it. Weirdly though, until today, I didn’t know what it meant. If it wasn’t for this blog I wouldn’t have bothered to find out but I thought I had better do my due diligence before I start writing about it.

I chose to write about it since it drove me to tears again now when I watched a clip of the South African Paraolymipics team sing an impromptu version while waiting their turn at the opening ceremony.

So, I realised it’s time hail something as simple as a song. A song, which to me, speaks of unity and strength and in it’s simplicity is just beautiful. Finding out what it means put this song in a new light though. It’s still a very positive one but it’s bitter sweet. It’s about a train running away from South Africa over the mountains. A tune I can only suspect was written to wish well the oppressed people who were lucky enough to escape our past atrocities. The song wished that the train “run fast” which is probably why it became a sport anthem in that the train can be an analogy for athletes.

To me though there is one extra gem in the analogy when I think back to 1995 (a year past the birth of our democracy) and I think of everyone singing that song together: The train running fast over the mountain was running away from the old South Africa. That train symbolises a journey which can only be measures in mountains because the struggle was real and hard.

In many ways we’re still on that mountain but I firmly believe the train has now turned back towards its country and South Africans want to work together to get it off that mountain. There are still lots of struggles but there is a nation of people who want to make this country work and so the tracks are headed back home and may we all receive the warm welcome we deserve. Shozoloza.

Because life is beautiful

So, South Africa is going through another trauma because our finance minister is being persecuted for what I can only assume is nonsense because politics is dirty. This news is utterly depressing and so two days ago I was just angry. I want my country to do well. I want us to succeed and I don’t want people’s agendas to hamper my country’s future.

I haven’t checked on the developments around that this morning but instead I cam across this gem on You Tube. It’s a flashmod organised by some petrol attendants in the cape. It’s simple but it’s full of energy and enthusiasm. These guys wants to share some joy with the world in two minutes. They succeeded at risk of annoying some of their customers. At risk of being told to go back to work. And yet, they practiced to put this together and it paid off. It made me smile and it’s had quite a lot of views for something that is two days old

And now my mood is lifted and I have energy to carry on despite my politicians because the people of this country know that it is beautiful and know that life is worth celebrating.

 

The perspective from “down under”

I’m currently in Sydney on the company’s dime. And yes, I’m in conference rooms most of the time but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a change to get a feel for the city. This exposure has obviously made me think of home and since this is one of the top places South Africans emigrate to I can’t help but think of it that way as well.

As far as home goes, this place is weirdly familiar. From the moment of landing it reminded me of South Africa. The city atmosphere is a combination of Pretoria and Durban (it has a harbour and some old fashioned narrow streets- what can I say) and people drive on the same side of the toad while enjoying a similar looking sky. (Stars are different in different hemispheres). A lot of the people sound a lot like us and they dress a lot like us. Somehow, a huge ocean apart two British Commonwealths developed to be very similar at face value.

People don’t emigrate because of face value though and I don’t really want to get into it, but if you’re going to make the change it probably helps tremendously that things don’t seem all that different when you initially land here. Every bit helps when it comes to feeling secure in what was probably the biggest decision in your life.

So, here I am in a city that’s kinda like home running two time zones (because home still needs me when they’re awake). It’s a bit surreal to know I’m allllllllll the way over here and my heart is alllllllll the way over there and yet I feel like I could walk out my hotel room and find my dogs right outside the door because nothing is that different.

Subsequently, I do not have epic comparisons to make about here and there. The only perspective I have gained in the slightest is about my people who are trying to make a life here. I know they don’t always want to be associated with me or their mother country,  but that’s ok because Africa is born in you. If you’ve decided to move then I’m not going to ask you to come back, all I can say is that I now get why the move may have been made just a little bit easier and why you weren’t missing Ouma rusks on the first day. Contrary to my own feelings, yet truly, I’m happy for your sake. I never thought I would ever even get this close to understanding your choice so literal perspective was helpful in this case. That is all.

Just another day

Nandos has done it again and brought out a brilliant advert which illuminates realities which only South Africans can truly appreciate and fortunately laugh at. Take a moment and watch:

 

South Africans will get this instantly; especially anyone who lives in the cities (with the exception of CT) and have to deal with blue light brigades more often than we’d like to remember. I think it’s funny. Of course it portrays things which are essentially wrong in South Africa but I still love it.

To me it’s about two things: the ridiculous entitlement of our ministers but also (and also greatly so) the great equaliser who is the taxi driver.

Here you have two parts of society: The extremely well paid ministers who are so important that they get rushed everywhere and then the under paid taxi driver who rushes everywhere because his (generally lower LTSM) passengers have real jobs to get to. I love how the taxi driver just takes no nonsense and goes about his day without the drama (because of course the back firing is unintentional) and will certainly get to passengers to their destination before all the ministers in their fancy cars.

Despite being comedic this advert clearly has a lot of symbolism attached to it and I feel like I could go on about it for the whole day. There are probably Sociology students writing PhDs about  what this advert symbolises.

I’m going to leave that to them today but I do invite you to think about it as well.Think what needs to be addressed in terms of what this advert symbolises and enjoy having a laugh while you do it.

Mandela Day needs to be Mandela year

I am an avid supporter of Mandela Day. I fully believe that rallying people to do a thoughtful thing on 18 July will show them how easy it is to care for others (humans or animals) and will make them realise how much these gestures are appreciated and how they really can uplift society.

True to  expectation Mandela Day 2016 was a very positive day across the country. Food parcels were handed out, libraries were opened, blanket drives broke Guinness World Records and  cups of coffee were handed out to people who do thankless work in the cold. Many, many, many other things were done and as a nation we will collectively pat ourselves on the back. Thanks Madiba for being an inspiration for something so diverse and meaningful.

I was part of the coffee drive I organised with some of my colleagues. I bought some coffee, organised some urns and spent my 67 minutes handing out hot coffee and tea to car washers, security gaurs, wastepreneurs, fruit sellers and security guards. Most were surprised that someone had thought of them, it made me feel good that we could say thank you to them for the often thankless work they do in the cold. Of course I feel good.

What has bothered me ever since yesterday morning though is that a single cup of coffee and biscuit handed out is only a moment in time for these people. I don’t know what I have done other to say “thank you” and “your work is appreciated”. Yes, on some level that means something. It’s a little boost for everyone, but what about today, tomorrow, a week from now. While I spend quite a lot of time working towards charitable donations / efforts I feel like Mandela Day  has come and gone and in many cases the impact is not long lasting enough.

There is a line of thought that believes that one Mandela Day can inspire people to make every day a Mandela Day. A Mandela Year, year after year, that is what we really need. So, I have thought of some ways you can try and be kind to those around you more often:

  • Make a sandwich or two every day and hand this out to a wastepreneur, newspaper salesperson or car washer you come across on your commute to work. If you can’t make it daily then try for weekly at least
  • When you go out playing Pokémon Go take your, or your neighbour’s dog for a walk. Better yet, contact a local animal shelter and ask if you can take one of their dogs for a walk
  • Separate your plastic and metal waste from your other waste and put in on top of your rubbish bin for the wastepreneurs. How would you like it if things you needed for work were thrown in the dustbin?
  • Treat car guards and parking meter operators as you would treat anyone else whose office you are entering. They are the CEO of that street, they should be treated as such. Same goes for cashiers. If you were treated as a servant (service industry) every day at your own work place you’d be grumpy too. Don’t forget about the lady who washes your hair or does your nails in the salon.
  • Go to that picnic or festival night your local dog shelter, nursery schools, recreational centre or nursing home has organised. It’ll probably be fun. Your few bucks for a picnic spot and some entertainment will go a long way
  • Support restaurants and recreational facilities in your neighbourhood. If you support them, they can stay open and employ people and you’ll have no vacant properties just a few blocks from your house. Less safety concerns and a great community spirit = winning.
  • Call your granny. In fact, write her a letter she can read whenever she misses you. I send post cards to my mom every day when I travel overseas. They only arrive well after I’m home but it reminds her that I love her. If I still had a granny I would write her too
  • Support local handymen. Obviously get a good reference but you might meet a reliable guy who uses your money to support this whole family
  • Do your very best to not slam down the phone when you realise you’ve just been called by a telemarketer. I always listen politely to their introduction and then firmly say “no thanks”. If they carry on after that I interrupt with “I don’t need what you’re offering. I’m ending this call”. I like to think it takes the edge off. They’re just doing their job
  • Tip well for good service. Let the manager know if you’ve received bad service. If things don’t improve it’s their loss when you don’t go back
  • Tip car guards and petrol attendants
  • Donate old clothing and everything else. It’s amazing what it useful to charitable organisations. Donate books to your local school. Books can really change the world.
  • Choose a charity to support every few weeks/months. I periodically donate to the South African Guide Dog Association and send dog food to Dogtown every 6 weeks or so once I’ve accumulated enough eBucks to buy and get free delivery via Take A Lot. Nothing is easier
  •  Donate an annual box or two/three/four/twenty to http://www.santashoebox.co.za. It’s a great cause. Club in with a few friends if you need to – it’s really worthwhile. When you donate put a few extra small items in the box and also write the child a short note to make them feel special. That note can impact a life in a very positive way – it’s nice to know someone really thought about you, even if you’ve never met that person face to face

There are many, many, many other things we can do but these are things I feel like “normal” working 9 – 5 people can do without too much effort. These are really small things that can make a positive impact on the souls who are often the most overlooked in society or taken for granted. If you’re able to organise town clean-ups or go paint houses at orphanages then please do that too but for most of us the small things done constantly will also help a lot.

You can set an example to your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, the world. Madiba Day yesterday. Joe Soap day, every day

Start today.

South African generosity is a well spring

There has been a severe drought in SA for what seems like ages now. Some areas have received rain recently but four provinces have been declared disaster sites. The government has made some effort to help but people are still dying in queues while waiting for water and children are competing with cattle for drinking water. Hundreds heads of livestock have been lost and a lot of people are in dire straits.

Thanks to the South African spirit of innovation and generosity thousands of people have come together in order to do what they can to support communities in need. One 1l,2l or 5l at a time ordinary South Africans have been helping in campaigns to bring some relief to those in need.

Individuals and companies alike have used social media to mobilise and the results have already been evident. People are digging deep and networking up a storm to make sure that everything is done to avoid more death. It’s heart warming to see the pictures and read the stories. People are simply helping because they can but they’re making friends along the way and literally savings lives. It’s amazing.

This to me is the value of the South African spirit. We will not let each other suffer despite our difference. It’s amazing how an emergency can bring people together.

I encourage you to get involved. I’ve already rallied my colleagues to donate water and one person alone is bring 55 litres tomorrow which I will take to a drop off point who in turn will take it to a truck depot. Every litre helps and can save a life.

Visit their website for drop off points and their FB page for updates. Please don’t delay to join the cause