I could dig up and quote all kinds of statistics and indicators, but this entry is about an emotion and an experience, so that is what I am going to speak about. There is an energy, a pride, and a feeling of excited anticipation just now in South Africa. Like any of the former Colonial nations, there are interesting things to learn about the history of this place, the political, social and religious movements which contributed to it, the reason it was established, changed, and how it grew. But admittedly South Africa has been thru some very tough times, seen some very black days… atrocities were committed in the lifetime of even those current inhabitants in their 20's or older, so it affects young and old in a fresh, tangible and very real way.
But South Africa is a new nation. A nation aware of it’s faults, clear on even the bad bits in it’s history, but proud of what it is building. Large enough and prosperous enough to support a thriving upper and middle class, there are some of the world’s top hotels, and certainly the top game lodges and safari experiences to be had. This is a country of great natural beauty, amazing wildlife, and well educated people to show it to you. Passionate conservationists, involved land owners and farmers… you can dine well, enjoy amazing wines, shop for unique cosmetics, jewelry, art, and fashion, stay in top hotels and experience superlative levels of service and comfort.
Yet what is intriguing are the people. Friendly, involved, interested and interesting. So many languages and cultures – the South Africa Tourist Board for many years has used ‘a world in one country’ as a slogan, and certainly it refers the geology and topography – a land rich in resources and diverse regions from desert, to beaches, to mountains, to jungles, to farmed valleys, rich gardens and towns, ancient tribal lands and villages, and to remote rugged masses. But the people are part of this, too. From simple villagers, to large tribes with cultural attributes and rites, to a modern and forward thinking group of educated Westerners….
Culturally people may be from many different places, but first and foremost nowadays, they are ‘South African!’ The education levels, the justice system they’ve put in place and the reforms they are pushing bode well for a bright future in this country full of natural resources and not yet burdened by an impossibly large population. Any place is Africa is an interesting trip any time, whether it’s for wildlife, natural beauty, or unique culture, but I think that the current feeling, the spirit and hope which enlivens South Africa just now is a particularly good reason to go there NOW!!!!