Myself and a few other journalists are in France, and not only is it freezing, it is snowing. We find ourselves in the southeast of the country, where everything is old, very French and very old-fashioned.
Everything is all about identity as the French have mastered the art of self-promotion. You do not have to look twice to know that an item was designed locally, as it overflows with their worldwide flair.
Call them old-fashioned or stuck in time, these people are proud to defend their culture, heritage and all that comes with liking escargots. It is incredibly difficult to get a hold of food, or an item or even a person that does not have a French connection. This is what patriotism is all about, and we also have it in heaps in South Africa.
As soon as they hear our accents, we are greeted with welcoming shouts of “Nelson Mandela”, “Cape Town” and “Johannesburg”. It seems as if we are not doing too badly when it comes to loving who we are and the part of the continent we are curating.
Even with the temperature dropping to -3 degrees, it warms my heart that the majority of citizens here, thousands of kilometres away, love our country because we love it. They always say that people and reflect what you are feeling. We have come a long way, when only negative narrative was coming from our mouths, and the rest of the world is picking this up.
I will never be naïve enough to think that we live in a perfect country, as we have our own problems, of which crime impact the most. A week ago, our twin boys woke up, like they normally do, but this time, they had puzzled looks on their faces. Twin two asked Twin one where he had hid the TV, which we found out that it had been stolen. Presumably, a few people broke into our abode and repossessed our TV and the twins’ tablets. Now we are left with children that are so shaken up about how the thieves are going to charge the stolen tablets, as they left the chargers behind.
How do we tell our children – after our car was stolen at Emmarentia Dam, a few years ago – that these things happen? As much as our privacy was invaded, I am still hopeful that we really do live in the best country in the world, that has its own problems.