High on SA

by on December 6, 2008 at 2:13 am

Nadine Khan of Brand South Africa came with us on the bloggers’ tour. Here’s what it has meant to her:

I woke up today a privileged South African.  I have spent the last six days in the presence of some of the top US and local bloggers.

Together we have been exploring this beautiful country in almost every possible way imaginable.  We have driven there by car, bus and 4 x 4. We have flown there by 707 Boeing, charter and helicopter and we even braved the stormy seas by ship.

All in an attempt to showcase the South African firsts, which are inventions or technology that South Africa is the first to use in the world. Our destinations have been broad and vast and the hours spend on the road has been long and ardours.  We have seen it all.  From launching satellites in space to bushmen rock paintings.  From a helicopter scenic flight over the Cape Peninsula to going down the worlds deepest mine, we have done it.

Of course I came prepared.  We had spend hours debating the programme of our tour to ensure that the best of the best is showcased as is, no gimmicks no false PR just the truth about what South Africa has to offer.

Or so I thought.

You see for the last six days I have had this nagging feeling of white guilt that just refuses to go away. Nothing on earth could have prepared me for this emotional awakening which I am experiencing.

Now for those of you that are familiar with our apartheid history will sigh and lament with me about our atrocious deeds committed by us to the less fortunate. But let me correct you the white guilt that I am currently suffering, is a fate far worse.

You see I have spend the last fifteen years apologising and lamenting the past and up until this trip would have probably had spend the next fifteen years in much the same frame of mind.

I would willingly have been part of a lost generation. Part of the generation of people who did not really cause apartheid nor fought the cause to end it.

So what happened you ask?

I was humbled by the sheer magnitude of passion of ordinary South Africans.  I was touched and inspired by the everyday ordinary heroes of this enigmatic country.

At !Kwa Thu I met a San bushman, who despite the fact that there are only four people left in the world today that can still speak his language chooses to speak Afrikaans because it is the language his mother taught him.

In Alexander Bay I met a man and his wife who gave up the rat race and returned home to travel 400 kms per day in the arid dessert to promote the rock paintings and nomadic lifestyle of the bushman in an attempt to give back and preserve the Koi and San communities.

In Stellenbosch and in the Magaliesberg I met coloured people who are so proud of their French and Dutch colonial heritage that they wear it with pride.

In Melrose Arch I met people who are so immensely proud of our European pop culture, that they are creating a language and a platform all their own which rivals the best in the world.

Today I understand that I really do wake up in a country that is Alive with Possibility.

Today I salute these ordinary South Africans, not because of their ability to preserve their beliefs but for their ability to awaken mine.

I might not be the one to save the whales or the dolphins, to preserve and develop the cape fynbos or the famous one who eradicates crime and discrimination against woman.

But I am certainly the one South African that will tell you that your post apartheid duty is to create positive South African stories, here in your own backyard – and that if you are truly lucky that someday, somewhere you may be saluted as the everyday ordinary hero that inspired a nation’s transformation.