South Africa isn’t a sinking ship – even if you want to leave

I have not posted about this year’s #FeesMustFall protests, as I have been trying to listen and learn as much as possible. I have not felt the authority or entitlement to put my opinion onto a platform.

Until last week, when I saw a post on the Stellies Rage Facebook page. A French exchange student encouraged his fellow students to take their foreign passports (if they have) and move away from South Africa. This person made South Africa out to be a sinking ship that is better off abandoned.

It made me livid. South African society is turbulent at the moment, there is no mistaking it. We have a lot to fix. A lot of old, infected wounds have been reopened and we are now in this purgatory where no-one is really satisfied. Painted rust is still rust, and quick fixes have not been particularly progressive for South Africa. When you expose existing problems for what they are, there is finally hope for fixing them. So, as far as I see it, South Africa is potentially on the brink of becoming great. If we’d let it, of course.

People who sit around and make comments about how shit they think this country are infuriating. Worse, I think they are a part of the problem. Your attitude about something directly correlates with how much care you invest into it. This, of course, impacts the way you nurture it and how much effort to put into to it to making it succeed. So if you think this country is terrible, it is unlikely that you will contribute the necessary effort to take it to its full potential. Anyone whose parents forced them into a degree or a career path will be able to confirm this. Passion produces purpose. The mantra is a cliché for a reason.

It is not the wealth gap that make me afraid for the future of South Africa. Nor the social tension built upon years of racial oppression. It’s not even the corrupt government. It is the people who sit comfortably in their living rooms and make  Facebook statuses about how South Africa is going downhill. They have received the most from what this country has to offer, but they keep what they have for maximum comfort.  If I ever emigrate, it will be because of these people.

If you believe Europe or America to be better, do yourself – and this country – a favour and leave. You are not obligated to stay. This country is dynamic, but it is not for everyone. If you hate this country so much, you are not needed – it does not matter what you can contribute, you will not help this country develop. If you think you deserve to live in a ‘better’ country, carpe diem. Help yourself out. As taxing or expensive as migrating can be, not feeling the need to gripe every day is surely worth the move.

But on your way out, do not spread the propaganda that South Africa is not worth the effort. Do not spread the lies that South Africa has been fine for the past 20 years and that this era is filled with unfair violence. The rest of us love this country; we know that our loyalty need not be a waste of time. The growing pains are so ugly, but we know that we are working towards a South Africa that looks after everyone. If you do not want to be a part of that, that is your choice.

[Featured image source: businesstech.co.za]

Verbose: ‘Food Ark’

‘Food Ark’ was written by Charles Siebert and was published in National Geographic in July 2011

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  • Title: ‘ark’ as in Noah’s ark, vessel for safety? Way to salvation?
  • I have argued that there is actually enough food in the world to feed everyone without resorting to GMO food and that if we managed the distribution properly, everyone would be able to eat to satisfaction (not greed). I want to see if I have that opinion to unlearn.
  • Thinking laterally about what we eat – look at other varieties
  • “devoted to collecting rather than growing seeds” – demand and supply?
  • Bequeathed = given, handed down
  • “prized by a food movement that emphasizes eating locally and preserving the flavour and uniqueness of heirloom varieties” – when I see ‘food movement’, I think of a fad, not necessarily a revolution.
  • “most of us in the well-fed world give little thought to where our food comes from or how it’s grown” – so simply put, but it points to a big problem
  • “very little is said or done about the parallel erosion in the genetic diversity of the food we eat” – at first glance this phrase seems quite unimportant to me. Why is it so important to have diversity? As long as we are getting the nutrients, right? I am assuming that this decreases the risk of certain foods running out.
    • Okay, they specifically say why this is a problem. “If disease or future climate change decimates one of the handful of plants and animals we’ve come to depend on, we might desperately need one of those varieties we’ve let go extinct’
    • I actually really like the way this dilemma is presented – where you’ve got to think/scoff first and then the reasoning is presented afterwards
  • “the world has become increasingly dependent upon technology driven, one-size-fits-all solutions to its problems. Yet the best hope for securing food’s future may depend on our ability to preserve the locally cultivated foods of the past” – I could be wrong, but this means Charles is not particularly pro-GMO right? Or am I just looking for an opportunity to be right?
  • “It took more than 10 000 years of domestication for humans to create the vast biodiversity in our food supply that we’re now watching ebb way”, “painstakingly developed livestock” – this comes across as a bit too dramatic. He seems like someone who would pine over his ex-lover for years. It sucks, but let it go, dude.
  • I did not know that introducing GMO was called the green revolution. That’s very interesting.
  • Okay, so what I’ve gotten so far is that if we produce GMO food in maximum yields, we produce fewer varieties of breeds – which gives us a risk of putting us in food shortages in the future.
  • This infographic is such a potent way of showing the decline of these crops.

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  • It’s also really interesting that local farmers have put themselves in debt in trying to keep up with the new agricultural demands. That addict simile is a little lost on me, though – “they are like addicts, hooked on a habit they can ill afford in either economic and ecological terms”.
  • Stalin deemed a Russian botanist’s efforts to conserve many species of seeds as “bourgeois science” and put him in a concentration camp???
  • Bourgeois = conformist, conventional
  • Also, Hitler hoped to one day control the world’s food supply. Jesus.
  • “doomsday vault” – I get that this a serious topic that could help so many people, but I feel like he does not need to use these sensationalist phrases to make his point
  • I love how he draws attention to how smart farmers are and how intricate their work is – I feel like farmers are seriously underappreciated.
  • “Contextualise it” – a farmer explains why he isn’t completely against science. I LOVE this. It allows a middle ground between the two sides of the argument.
  • I really like that the author gave this face by speaking to a family who has been affected by this. When people attach real characters with names and experiences to problems, I definitely think they pay more attention – the problem is less abstract that way. I think Siebert made a good call by leaving it to the end, as that would be what the reader is left thinking with, not a pile of statistics.
  • I really appreciate the continuous photos of a variety of species of animals and seeds. It’s like constantly (subtly) making your point.

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