ARE SOUTH AFRICANS DROWNING IN A GLASS HALF FULL?

ARE SOUTH AFRICANS DROWNING IN A GLASS HALF FULL?

Amongst the nations of the world, South Africans no doubt fall into the “glass half full” division. And we enjoy that space, because who (aside from maybe the Russians) would choose the unhappy alternative. It would just seem to be so un-South African. So we try and we try really hard. But it’s not always easy.

It’s not easy when we are told that Eskom is costing the economy up to R80 Billion per month as a result of load shedding. When the price of power is set to surge and where petrol will follow suite dragging with it all the implications of inflation and added cost of living. It’s not easy to remain positive when our roads department is a shambles and traffic lights don’t work and surfaces remain pot holed and dangerous. It’s not easy when we read about the state of many of our state run hospitals where patients are told to return in seven years for surgery that is required not in seven years but today. When the standard of education is plummeting and textbooks are lost and teachers abandon classrooms for a host of legitimate and illegitimate reasons. When corruption is the Ebola of our nation and has spread uncontrolled through all sectors, and where simply, there is little sense that the doctor is “In the house”.

It’s not easy when this morning’s headline on News24 laments “Medics held at Gunpoint while Saving a Child’s Life” and tells the story of a robbery that occurred in the back of an ambulance whilst the paramedics were trying to stabilize a 5 year old who was experiencing seizures. It’s not easy when its nigh on impossible tell the difference as to whether the post office is on strike or working (I swear I really have no idea) and when the application for my 16 year old son’s ID document made in August of last year has simply disappeared and noted “Untraceable” in the murky chaos of Home Affairs.

It’s not easy when the President at the SA Local Government Association calls the people of his country “Lazy” and dreams out loud of what he would do if he were to be a dictator for a year, “democracy being the stumbling block” to real progress (you can’t actually make this stuff up). And although there is comfort in the fact that he acknowledged very real and valid concerns with regard to the horrific over spend on consultants, the employment practices of various municipalities as well as a worry about the culture of expectation amongst the youth, one needs to remember that he is actually the leader of this blessed country. And has been for some time. So although I found myself nodding in agreement with some of the valid points he made, and almost (but not quite) thinking “Yeah! You tell them!” I did have to remind myself that he is in fact the President and not the leader of the opposition. Which would have made a lot more sense. That is the twilight zone that South Africans inhabit.

And it’s not easy when we lose the cricket. When we could have won. And it’s not easy when we think about the potential that we have in South Africa in terms of mineral resources, natural beauty, and limited natural disasters, and how we should be an example to the world, but are not. We really couldn’t be blamed for thinking that the glass is not only half empty but that it is cracked and decrepit and is in danger of being taken from us at gunpoint.

But somehow we do. Mostly we do see the funny side, we laugh at ourselves and even feel strange affection for the President with all his wives (some of whom want to poison him from time to time) and with his Nkandla and with his famous laugh and less famous dance moves. And we shake our heads at Eskom and we buy generators and we continue to support the Proteas. Somehow, we manage to keep adding to the glass even as it strains under the pressure. Somehow for South Africans it just seems to remain half full. Go figure.


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