By Margaret Poppins
I have to start by saying that I am not a South African, but I am married to a wonderful South African man.
I have been living in SA for five years (four years in JHB and since last year in Cape Town). I am also looking more desperately towards getting out of here, unless the society changes dramatically in the next year or two. I am not talking about racism which is so obvious everywhere you go, whether covert or overt from all races living in SA, I am talking about a society that does not live like a society and how can you stand it?
You want to be part of civilization, yet you break every rule and common sense that makes the basis of civilization. Some simple things too:
Pedestrians at a zebra crossing – 3 cars in a row did not bother to stop and let us cross, until I put my foot down (literally) into the road and the driver coming had to hit his brakes.
Traffic lights – does red mean Go in SA? If red and green and amber mean Go, when do you stop?
Stop sign – does it mean speeding towards the sign to intimidate anyone coming so you don’t have to stop?
Queues of traffic, such a pain in the backside, I know – a lot of the cars don’t queue up, but they rather drive in the wrong lane until they can close the gap and jump in front of every one. Why is those people’s time more valuable than mine? Don’t we all need to get to work in the morning or at home after work?
And the list of traffic offences can continue from blocking traffic in long queues, tailgating, speeding to stopping anywhere on the road (emergency lights do not allow you to stop wherever you fancy if there is no emergency) etc.
Doing my shopping, many times I hear from someone complaining to the till lady/gent that there is no stock on his/her favourite cat food, or to the guy stocking the shelves that the shop’s prices are ridiculous – seriously, don’t you think for a second that maybe the person you’re getting angry with is not responsible for the issue you’ve got?
At the doctor’s rooms – doctors do run late, as annoying as this is and do you know why? It’s the doctor’s fault for not timing the consultations right, right? Wrong. Nine times out of ten, the doctors run late because the patients make an appointment to discuss one health issue, but they have five other issues to discuss. The medical receptionists are hard tried workers – I’ve witnessed it a few times where the patients vent their frustration on doctor’s late running on the receptionist. Again, you might want to reconsider before you start the blaming game.
A couple I passed by, I’m assuming they are married by their rapport – the wife tells her husband “You are too nice, I don’t have time to be nice!”. Does being nice take time? If it does, so be it, you might add a few more years to your life expectancy as opposed to having a stroke from getting angry with others.
South Africans are very angry and frustrated people and not willing to BE the change and that is what is ruining this country. Sure racism is an issue and everyone blames racism, the Apartheid or Zuma for the present, but I think those issues are not as big as the falling apart of society’s structure, which is based on a HUGE lack of common sense and selfishness. Because all those offences I mentioned and many more are caused by people from all races, colours and ages here in SA.
You read about SA how it is a beautiful country – I love Cape Town’s scenery, the beautiful sea tide I watch a few times a week, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head etc. However, I am not a tourist here, I live here and I am not surrounded by sea and mountain and green lush vines every day, I am surrounded by people and the majority of the people I meet, deal with or see/pass by every day disappoint me a great deal. And I see it in everyone’s eyes how each and every one of them is disappointed with the society they live in as well, but they still go out there and drive angry, walk and bump into people angrily, vent their frustrations during telephonic conversations or when dealing with other people. It’s actually not difficult to try and be a better individual – if not for others, for your sake at least. And with each individual changing one thing about themselves (which will have a positive impact on the people around them), you have a changed society, one that you can finally be proud to be part of.