Dream the beloved country
August 30, 2015 § 2 Comments
It’s easy to get down in the dumps about South Africa. All you have to do is open the newspaper, switch on the TV news or read social media, and in no time at all you’ll be convinced that there is no hope.
Or, when the onslaught of bad news threatens to overwhelm you, if you live in Johannesburg, you can go down to Zoo Lake on a Sunday afternoon in spring.
And if you do this; if you drive to the lake and take a stroll, and you pay attention, you start to see what our country could look like. It’s a reminder that despite the farcical behaviour of our elected leaders, and all the pseudo-intellectual nitpicking about a myriad ‘offensive’ issues that take up column and online space daily, that it’s only part of the story.
Because at Zoo Lake you will see people – ordinary South Africans – enjoying an afternoon out together. There are cricket stumps and soccer balls, and children on bicycles. There are headscarves and hotpants and head wraps like fabric sculptures atop slender, strong necks. There is every shade of skin, of eyes, of hair. Old and young smile and nod their greetings: a tiny fat hand waves wildly at everyone who passes.
Footsteps are slow and careful, or carefree and quick. There are hands in hands, and infants in arms. A group of toddlers are holding a dance party, their nappied bums twitching this way and that. A tiny stripey sock lies forgotten on the pathway here; a fallen ice-cream slowly trickles over the pavement there. A man with a single maraca shakes out complicated rhythms from his perch on a green bench.
The smell of smoke and sizzling meat drifts over from a hundred different fires. People in boats hoot and squeal while beatboxes blare and bay for your attention. Geese waddle greedily from one packet of crusts to the next, an ice-cream vendor shakes his tinny bell.
And you could notice that the water doesn’t smell so great today. Or that some people have littered, and that there’s a group of students being tipsily loud. But if you look beyond that, what you see is a picture of what South Africa could still be. Of what – quite possibly – it actually is when you step back from the doom and gloom of what traditional and social media preach at us daily. What you hear on the warmth of the afternoon breeze is the sound of fun, of family, of laughter and love and life. Of ordinary people just getting along.
It’s just a snapshot, yes. There are problems and challenges and hurdles to overcome. But we have a dream. It’s a good dream. And it’s a dream we can achieve.
We just have to remember, and to keep dreaming, and to do something small every day to ensure that we get there.