8 Reasons Why It’s Great to Be South African

1. We are resourceful
We make it happen, despite the odds. Forget stories about wind-up radios or the CT Scan (which are pretty cool in their own right), this picture says it all…


2. We have aliens living amongst us
Here’s to District 9 being the first of many more movies that will clean up at the Box Office.  If you look at the unbelievably great commercials produced in this country by local South Africa directors, it’s inevitable that we’ll soon produce a Slumdog Millionaire (as apposed to an ‘Australia‘).


3. Jacob Zuma is president
Ok, ok, so maybe not all of you  agree here. However, compare this guy with our previous president. Thabo, who stood on the shoulders of giants, but couldn’t face up to might of the trade unions. Nor could he square up to the grilling of international journalists. Check this video out:

(Watch the rest of the interview here.) A lot of folk have left the country in order to keep the promise “If Zuma comes to power, I’m outta here!” Those guys must be sitting in Perth wondering what the hell they’ve done to deserve the mundane monotony of their current lives. It turns out that 2009 is the first year since 1994 that we’re having a brain gain instead of a brain drain. So here’s the good news: your R250k spent on emigrating is not a complete waste of time. Consider it a university lesson. Come home! We welcome you back with open arms. We may poke fun at you for a while, but after the first few beers, braais and sunny skies, you’ll forget you ever left.

4. People underestimate us
This is great if you’re in sport (1995, 2007, ftw!) Not so great if you’re in business. All the more reason to support people like Vinny, Justin, Mark and Marius. They are guys out there on the international stage, rocking it one time, ek se. This means you can do it too, and no one will see you coming.

5. We communicate gooder
I overheard a conversation at the Virgin Active gym in Claremont that went something like this:

“HEY bru!”
“No ways, bru – HOWZIT man!”
“Sheez, no ways, it’s been ages man!”
“ONE time. ONE time.”
“For sure, man, for sure. But it’s lekker. All good!”
“Ja, china, for sure. No complaints, hey?”
“No, for sure.”
“Lekker man”
“Ja, for real.”
“Ja, fully.”
“So, take it easy, my bru.”
“Fully bru.”
“It’s been lekker catching up with you.”
“And you, man. And you.”

People just don’t talk like that anywhere else. It’s a beautiful thing.

6. We have this guy as our rugby coach
Pieter de Villiers is the armchair rugby player’s worst nightmare. Confounding all expectations, he has all the pundits baying for his blood before matches, then slamming them to silence while his team racks up record wins all over the globe. No other coach has dared people to dislike him as much, yet made them eat their words afterwards.


7. We have the best bands in the world (and the world doesn’t know it… yet)
Admit it. There have been a few occasions recently that you’ve said “Wow – was that a South African song?” after bopping along in your car. The sheer weight of great tjoons coming out of the local scene is staggering, from aKing, Parlotones, Zebra & Giraffe and Goldfish to established guys like Just Jinjer, Seether and Tree63… and yes, we WILL claim Dave Matthews as one of ours, despite that accent. Here’s a little taste of what the world will soon grow to love (and buy):

There are loads more like this. We’re reaching a tipping point. With this amount of awwwsome music coming out, it WILL spill over to our northern hemisphere friends.

8. South African business is a gathering storm
Looking at the landscape with companies like Fundamo (biggest mobile money operator in the world), Bio-Oil (number 1 selling product in Boots UK) and Yola (over 2.5m users), we’re gathering momentum.


So, what are you doing to make an impact on the rest of the world?

35 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why It’s Great to Be South African

  1. OK, so there’s debate whether the pic in number 1. is actually in South Africa… I got it from someone sending it to me stating it was in the Freestate BUT I stand to be corrected – can anyone verify where it’s from?

  2. I saw that bakkie in Centurion in January. A few days later a photo appeared in the newspaper. The driver drove from Durban to Pretoria and was only pulled over in Pretoria. Yea it was taken in South Africa, where else? Australia?

  3. Ja, that sounds right, Lisa. He would only have been pulled over in Durbs for more people to chuck their stuff on and then sit on top for a ride to Pretoria. That’s how we roll here. Kiffness! 😉

  4. Oh dear, is it that time again to pat ourselves on the back about the kreepy krawly, rooibos and just jinger?!

    The point at which SA ACTUALLY is at this current point in time and where people THINK it is can often be the difference between night and day, and that’s not to say we’ve not achieved a great deal, however we seem to have bought into the ethos that if you believe something enough (regardless of whether or not it is true), then it is what we believe it is….sigh.

    The clip with Zuma is just cringe-worthy, seriously. It shows nothing more than a bumbling fool who fits the African-leader profile exactly. Nuff said.

    Sorry to be a kill-joy but gosh we South Africans are seriously deluded sometimes with our over-zealous patriotism which almost always sounds conceited.

  5. @Wayne, have you spent much time around Americans? On the patriotism scale out of 10 we’re at a 1 and they’re at 11. I think we’ve got a long way to go before we’ll be accused of being conceited!

    Most media is pulling so hard to the negative, that I’m guessing Fred just wants to pull a bit in the other direction. Hopefully we can settle somewhere in the middle.

  6. @Andrew Smith – I’ve worked many years in the US and the UK and although Americans have given new meaning to the word “patriotism”, being the world’s super power, they have something to crow about.
    I disagree that most media is pulling hard to the negative, on the contrary judging by what the mainstream media spits out internationally, it’s nothing but praise, hope and positivity for SA, unless you get a more balanced perspective from other news sources like Economist etc. I know that all countries have leadership issues but I think SA is a shining example of poor leadership and yet naivety chants for Zuma.
    Think about it, if we as South Africans were more humble in our approach and focused on addressing the serious issues that are holding back the country from becoming the country that many people believe it is today, then we may start to move forward and actually achieve something.
    It’s appalling to see how we accept the very sub-standard and mediocre leadership and only (in my opinion) due to the absence of a better alternative.
    @Fred Roed, I do appreciate the post in the light-hearted nature in which it was probably intended, it just touches on some serious issues which are often overlooked.

  7. @Wayne I wasn’t talking about international media about South Africa, I was talking about South African media targetted at South Africans. It’s hard to watch the news here or read a newspaper and leave feeling at all positive about our country. There is not point in ignoring our problems, but it seems that you’d rather not think at all positively about our country, light-heartedly or not.

  8. It’s nice to claim District 9 as being South African but it’s just not true. The director/writer now makes his home in Canada. He is a Canadian not a South African. Like the 100,000 ex S.A”s now living in Canada

  9. Keep up the good work – the negatives are overpowering so we really need some positives to boost us up on a daily basis. Come on out there we must have a lot of positives to add.

  10. Great article, Fred – but you forgot Prime Circle, Watershed and Nibs van der Spuy… jeez, bru, don’t leave out the REALLY good musos!

    I agree with Andrew and Wayne – on different points. I’m afraid celebrating Zuma as president is a stretch, the best that can be said is that he’s been less bad than expected. But we really do have a mediocre leader compared to other world leaders such as Obama – now there’s a statesman if there ever was one, and US finally has something justifiable to crow about right there.

    But Wayne’s right about SA media only selling us the gloom and doom, I can’t remember when I finished a papaer feeling uplifted. I was chatting to mates about this recently, and it’s scary how our world view is dictated by what we’re fed by the media – what a responsibility they have, and overall, I really don’t think they carry that responsibility very well (there are some exceptions). Look at the turnaround on Zuma – this time last year he was a pariah, now he’s the flavour of the month. And it’s hard not to be influenced by the media hype since that’s our primary source of info.

  11. Nice comment Michele, thank you.

    On your Barack Obama point, I agree 100% that if you compare Zuma to Obama, JZ falls way short. However, the new US president sets a pretty high standard if you think about his predecessors. Consider Bush and Bush Sr. I’d choose Zuma over both of them. Come to think of it, I’d also be hard pressed to favour Brown or Berlosconi over our very flawed, very colourful leader.

    What I was trying to bring across in the article is the following:
    1. Zuma is better than expected – despite being a palooka at times
    2. We have to see things through our uniquely African lens.

    Africa is a complicated yet immensely rewarding challenge. We cannot apply Western (or Eastern) solutions to our problems. We can watch and learn from the wonderful example that Obama sets, but deep down I actually believe that, right now, we need someone like Zuma in charge.

    That said, I’d vote for Zille in a heartbeat if we ever get the chance.

    On your media point, remember that doom and gloom sells. The newspapers rely on fear to boost their margins. I suggest moderating your intake with a daily dose of http://www.sagoodnews.com, http://www.sarocks.co.za and, of course, https://www.ideate.co.za – !

  12. @Wayne – thanks for your comments. It’s clear you’re passionate about this country and are, like many of us, deeply concerned about its future.

    You raise some very valid points that I can respond to here – for example ‘if we as South Africans were more humble in our approach’. I agree we need to be humble, but I think sometimes we’re guilty of being TOO humble. Being an editor of this site, I get a ton of negative sentiment about our country, which I’m sure you’ll agree, is not very helpful to our cause.

    In his book ‘Good to Great’ business consultant Jim Collins talks about the ‘Stockdale Paradox’ which refers to the act of overcoming extreme challenges by balancing two contrasting views – 1. “confront the brutal facts” and 2. “never give up hope” I believe that there are shoots of growth emerging out of the devastation of our past, and we need to shed as much light on them as possible in order for them to grow.

    At the same time, as you rightly mentioned, we need to be aware and mindful of the truth.

    The other point you raise is the standard of leadership in this country. I agree that we have some poor politicians in charge of various portfolios. This is not uncommon in developing nations as well as in first world countries. In fact, we have a legacy of poor leadership stretching deep into our past… but, at the same time, I believe we’ve got some really great leaders, spread across business, politics, arts, science and sports.

    That, for a small outpost at the bottom of the world, with a uniquely merged set of cultures, is nothing to be sneezed at.

  13. The issue of whether to leave south africa or not is a function of one’s heart.

    Africa is the current playing field on which the next generations’ Rockerfellers and JP Morgans will make their name. We are in a period very similar to the wild west in the US and the middle ages in europe where a wealth of assets are up for grabs for those with the ambition and the heart to stomach the risks that come with it. While many south africans are leaving this country, the chinese are investing heavily in coutnries that are far less stable then we are. the west are in a race against time for the oil in west africa; primarily because its a matter of time before the chinese get to it. We are at the centre stage of a significant period in the fight for control of the world economy.. If you have the heart to stomach it, stay, and become a billionaire like rockerfeller, if not, leave and live a peaceful insignificant life in Australia. This is where the foreseeable future will be determined (here and the middle east).

    Just like the wild west, this is a turbulent time, filled with selfish idiots and leaders with a heart for their people..and very often its very difficult to see who the good guy is because we do not have an objective measure of morality. its been spoiled by culture-based barometers which are biased by construct .

    i believe that this this the problem with how ppl judge the leadership of this country. these are the same guys who could have pulled a Idi Amin when they came into power and order that all white people leave the country and give back the wealth they accumulated off the back of slaves.. but they didn’t. they simply asked that they share..with a few hickups along the way.

    Jacon Zuma completely annihilated Amanpour in that interview. the only problem is that he stutters. Since when is eloquence in the English language a barometer of intelligence? He didn’t finish school. get over it. He has an incredible leadership CV and his government has done exceptionally well so far. You must remember that he did not want to be president, but he was asked to run by his party as he was their only hope to defeat Mbeki, so he accepted. i believe that he knew his weaknesses but he took one for the team.

    I see no problem with him as a leader. I think, even now, most people if asked who they would pick as a president, would choose Clinton over Georg W., despite Clinton’s indiscretions. I don’t understand the issue with uZuma. He’s shown nothing but aptitude (except for the heinous crime of stuttering and polygamy). I believe that someone who becomes chief negotiator of the ANC in Africa and heads up their military arm, and negotiates the end to a war in his province with only a standard three is more able to deal with the unique challenges caused by the complicated and contrived thinking that is so hailed and is the cause of the current crisis (utility maximization, systematic level solutions, program-based solutions instead of processes that take time but, nonetheless, deal with the heart of the issue). I am in the finance industry, and at the heart of it, the world finance system is stupid and risky. So clearly being fluent in English (as its creators are) is not a good barometer for intelligence.

    We don’t have a leadership problem. Watch the interview with objective eyes and you will see that.

  14. @Mlu – thanks for the nicely weighted & objective comment. The comparison is between Zuma and Clinton is an apt one.

    Laughably, the same people who vilify Zuma for polygamy will stake Clinton’s claim for the Nobel Prize. No one in their right mind believes the former US President was a monogamist. Not to mention various leaders of other 1st world countries such as Italy and France who, it appears, use mistresses as proof of their awesomeness and manly leadership qualities.

    The old saying “why do you take note of the grain of dust in your brother’s eye, but take no note of the plank of wood which is in your eye?” comes to mind.

  15. @Canuck – District 9 a ‘Canadian movie’…?

    The weather’s getting to you dude. You’re starting to lose it.

    But it’s cool; we still love you. Come home. Quick.

    Before it’s too late.

  16. Go Mlu! Great value in your post. I’m very open to admitting I know far too little about what’s really going down and JZ’s actual abilities to make accurate assessment – I’m aware that my view is distorted by my culture and what I’ve been fed by the media. So I love the value of blogs like this that allow me to hear other opinions.

    And I’m with you on staying – not because Australia is bland, but because this is my HOME dammit, and I want to help make it successful by participating in its economy, trying to make a positive contribution both socially and economically, and relishing in its crazy amazing diversity which is so rich and rewarding if we can just get over being so isolationist and defensive to discover and revel in what it offers…

  17. what a nice read..and great responses…this blog always makes my day…and I learn something everyday..especialy the way people put foward their arguments..even when they dont agre with something….very matured and informed…keep it up y’all

  18. The first photo is for real – I saw that vehicle myself at the Ladies’ Mile petrol station / Woolies one night, about 6 weeks ago. I didn’t have a camera with me (and my phone doesn’t have a flash) so I’m glad to see someone else snapped it. Not sure if this photo was taken there in Meadowridge or elsewhere on that bakkie’s epic journey!

    Great post BTW. 🙂

  19. @Mlu – you mention “He’s shown nothing but aptitude (except for the heinous crime of stuttering and polygamy)”.

    Gosh are you seriously suggesting that the only heinous crime is stuttering and polygamy? Do we seriously turn a blind eye to the corruption charges, the so called “rape” incident and then the issue of “taking a shower”. You really cannot compare Zuma to other world leaders, nobody in the International community (developed world or not) will take him seriously.

    I do agree with the long past of poor leadership, especially when you see the statistics that were recently published showing the 330,000 and 35,000 “unneccessary” deaths of adults and children with HIV respectively because the government was too slow to act and has a skewd view of the link between HIV and Aids. Put that into context and we are talking about crimes against humanity. This blame I know lies squarely on Mbeki and his cronies. Doctor beetroot and co were banned from the HIV conference in Canada and rightly so. These incidents should not be pushed aside with the all too fimiliar sentiment of “ag well, thats just how it goes” as millions of people lives are hanging in the balance and depend on good leadership decisions.

    Back to Zuma however, again I’m not sure how the general public can forgive those indescretions so easily, Clinton left after getting a BJ, what do you think would happen if he was accused (not even convicted) of the same crimes that Zuma has, do you think the American people would let it fly and let him continue his presidency? I suspect that question doesn’t even warrant a response.

    Lastly, @Mlu to even suggest that this comes down to Zuma’s ability to speak English and that is a baramoter for intelligence, I couldn’t disagee more. I don’t think there is any retort to his shady past that could be better explained in any other language. Facts are facts and we should be demanding better leadership instead of searching through the positives of what we already have with a magnifying glass.

    @Michele I take your point about the influence of media, but that is the very reason why we have to peak our noses above that and see how things really are otherwise we are nothing more than sheep.

    The problem is a complex one and nothing that one person can resolve, it needs a new movement, a wave of support and passion for change, something like when the ANC took over power. Instead of largely black supported ANC vs a white supported DA, there needs to be a movement which is made up of all colours all fighting for the same cause. Well in my humble opinion only.

  20. HI wayne, I will quote myself:

    “Just like the wild west, this is a turbulent time, filled with selfish idiots and leaders with a heart for their people..and very often its very difficult to see who the good guy is because we do not have an objective measure of morality. its been spoiled by culture-based barometers which are biased by construct .”

    What michelle said about the media applies to you as well. you have simply reiterated the same arguments which are based on “culture-based” barometers and insufficient, media-generated, biased information.

    As a result, to continue the argument would entail trying to convince you that you do not have enough information to come to the conclusions you have come to, and that your view of morality and the requirements for leadership is skewed by your culture. this is clearly an impossible task as you clearly believe that the media is objective, and that the only example of poor leadership in the past is the mbeki era.

    it is best we agree to disagree. hopefully in a couple of years when the dust settles on south african politics and and the objective truth comes out we will get clarity on who the real villians are. in the meantime i will encourage you to keep you r mind open lest you commit to a view based on biased and insufficient information.

    cheers bud

  21. @Mlu – Agree to disagree is probably best. You seem to think that your views are based on nothing but factual information, which says it all really.

    The reality is that your opinion (like mine) is based on your external influences and it is safe to say that neither you nor me have all the ‘real’ facts to hand, but then again that is the beauty of having an opinion.

    Anyway, I do hope that we will see who the real villains are in time but again that is based on the assumption that the ‘real’ truth surfaces and not simply a version of it.

    Merry Christmas

  22. I am interested in doing the business, just let me know the cost and amount to start and it gonna get to where i need them …………………



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