Friday, March 27, 2009

Notes on a young country and our best and worst from a taxi trip

I took a short taxi trip to town the other day that epitomized some of the best and worst of South Africa. The human contents of the taxi were as varied as any SAB commercial could imagine; a Muslim couple on there way back from mosque in the front; a well dressed older black man behind them; next to him was a young Indian guy in clothes that showed he was clearly trying to hard; one row back was a guy in overalls holding a flat car battery and next to him was me. In a city like Cape Town diversity itself is nothing remarkable, in fact the point is that nothing I am about to describe was that remarkable.

The humans inside the taxi were not just sitting waiting for their destination to arrive. They were engaged in great and vibrant conversation. Everyone was laughing and then talking gravely, heads nodded in agreement and figers were wagged in dischord. The conversation involved everyone and was permeated by a feeling of commonality of being South Afrcian and a simple respect for each others opinions and person. When out stops began to arrive and people got out hands were shaken, cellphone numbers swapped (which will probably never be called but acts more as gesture of appreciation of one another) and good wishes flowed all around. That was the good part, that was the encouraging face of our not so fledgling country.

Not our taxi, but pretty much the same

The sad face was the topic of our discussions; corrupt politicians, broken promises and the failure of basic service delivery permeated out words, Grimaces and tears followed the sad words about the sad state of sad northern neighbour Zimbabwe and our governments sad and inept handling of the situation. The worst part about South Africa is that increasingly the point we use to find commonality as a nation is our supreme dissapointment with our leaders and government.

Someone we all decided we don't like

I was torn about whether to see the experience positively or not. We have tried for so long to discover national commonality and a common South African identity, but is this really what we want to base it on?

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