A Patriot Speaks from His Heart
TEXT BY: David wa Maahlamela

I recently started realizing what a blessing it is to be born in South Afrika. Last week after one incredible South Afrikan, to be more specific; Limpopo-born gold medallist Caster Semenya won in a dominant performance during the 800m IAAF World Championship in Berlin, I decided to record this year as year two thousand and South Africa (2000&SA). This gifted teenager taught all South Afrikans and the rest of the world that, ‘Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you’.

For Caster, winning despite the emotional torture dished out by the IAAF, the federation that allowed her to enter the Olympics and question her gender just before her big day is not a mean feat. Perhaps there’s something we are not being told, that she probably arrived late and just got on her marks. Maybe that’s the reason why the IAAF started questioning her victory. How disorganised do they think Athletic South Africa is to send a man to represent the country in a Women race? Does ASA have credibility before IAAF?

The ugly scenes reminiscent of what happened to the Springboks during the Rugby World Cup Finals when Percy Montgomery was pushed to fall on the cameramen. That was an obvious attempt to dent the image of South Afrikan rugby even though at the end of the day the best man won. The gesture he used, that of lifting his shoulders in surrender while half-stretching his arms as if saying: 'What can I say?' was not just sportsman spirit but also that of Ubuntu.

With the recent stellar performance of Bafana-Bafana during the FIFA Confederation Cup by giving World Champions Brazil a tough-time, my pride in the ability of this nation to stand up and be counted was reborn. As if that was not enough, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates humiliated the Her Majesty's Manchester City FC. What else do I need to be a proud South African? How does it feel that we are the inventors of the controversial noise-generating Vuvuzela?

Unlike the Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcom X who were celebrated after their death, Nelson Mandela is the only internationally celebrated living ancestor. Perhaps the recent chain of service delivery protests is a sign of the freedoms enjoyed in this country. Workers and community members are free to take to the street and raise their concerns without any fear.

Unfortunately while exercising legitimate rights by demanding, unfortunately vandalism still features prominently in some of these protests. But again, faultless audit is not a good audit, some auditors believe. Being able to identify rooms for improvement is a best way to better service delivery. Perfection does not exit, it is a process not a destination.

I am singing no praise to any man, but I believe there are quite much good things happening in our country to outweigh the bad that is branded in the media. Tell that to Mr. Journalist he will tell you where to get-off. To him good stories don't sell. A good story like Caster Semenya’s victory is not yet complete until the gender crap in mentioned. There’s lot to celebrate yet hence some of us are already addicted to complaining, we can’t stop anytime soon.

I realized my love for South Africa after visiting Washington DC in 2005, seeing how people live within surveillance cameras all in the name of homeland security; how I was told in my hotel room there’s even one yet deactivated until I’m suspected of something; how one night we were awoken up at 04h00 due to a faulty fire alarm which scared the hell out of 3000 people in a five star Hilton Washington hotel; Jaywalker pedestrian traffic fine; I can go on and on. The worst one was in a metro rail where I saw a sign that says: ‘If you can be found seated while an elder or disabled person standing, is a criminal offence.’ I mean this is what we do day in and day out everyday in our country without any legal enforcement. That's ubuntu, humanity.

I went to 'despotic' Zimbabwe several times and have never felt the way I did in Washington DC, the capital city of the Land of the Free. I won’t even mention stringent airport security searches which took close to two hours to undertake.

My point is; let’s make noise about the bad as a way of drawing attention and with an intention of rectifying them; not promoting or finger-pointing. When called upon let’s celebrate without the ‘but…”. FIFA Confed was a success, nobody can argue to the contrary. As we give standing ovation to Caster Semenya, let’s motivate every single South Afrikan to strive for excellence in whatsoever we do. Bring back that gold Caster; we want to see it in the dusty street of Polokwane. I already wrote a poem to bless your return.

(Written on the 20th August 2009)

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