I am still trying to find out why we are so bad at selling our country to the rest of the world. And by this, I do not mean we turn a blind eye to any of the ills we find ourselves in. I mean that we tell the good just as passionately as we preach about the bad.
I purposefully did not write about South African rider Brad Binder, who was crowned the Moto 3 World Champion, more than a week ago. I wanted to see just how much of a noise we would make about this outstanding achievement. I expected to not only witness him being interviewed on all forms of media, but for people to make a connection to South Africa.
When anyone else from the rest of the world does anything even remotely notable, we are quick to point out just how great their country is for producing such a person. Somehow, this is not the case for us, South Africans. Origin is only an issue if the topic is negative. I was recently overseas with fellow South Africans and for most of the trip, they did exactly that. It was as if they were paid per word to not only trash their country of birth, but to exaggerate just how bad things really are here.
Of course, I would regularly interject and try to spice the conversation with our achievements, such as Binder, but they would have a rebuttal about all the negative experiences. Here we have a champion who is the best in the world, and we sweep it under the carpet, as if it happens on a daily basis.
Even more exciting is that Binder is a 21-year-old, and we all know just how much clout the youth have – globally. They are the ones shaking up all sorts of ideas that the older crowd have held dear for way too long.
We find ourselves in turbulent times globally, when a generational turf war is threatening to break out. The “wiser” are clinging on to the old-fashioned ideals of “It has always been done like that”, while the younger are insistent on asking “why?” We should all be asking that question, as that is when we will start to work towards constructive answers.
When we ask why Binder won, then we will learn from his philosophy and then pass it on to even younger riders, ensuring that we do not wait another 36 years before a South African wins, like Jon Ekerold won the 350cc title in 1980.