This past weekend, I finally went to this neighbouring country of ours, Botswana. It which was the first time I ever left South Africa. I was welcomed by wonderful people, and the visit was limited to its largest city — Gaborone — which is beautiful, sparse, and vast, when compared to my country's own cities.
One of its residents got shocked when I argued that South Africa doesn't have a unifying identity, arguing that the country is too diverse to have such. Instead she argued that such is country's very strength which led to her pointing out the following wins:
- diverse (and therefore strong) economy; she stated Botswana is over-reliant on diamonds
- diverse tourist attractions; Botswana's tourism is nearly non-existent in comparison
- diverse export market; Botswana is all diamonds, again
- press freedom - my input, which she agreed with
- high foreign investment
- diverse cultures
- high media production standards; Botswana has only one tv channel and the little exposure I got of it expresses amateurish levels of production
- passionate people (highlighting freedom fighters that enabled black rule; highlighting the toyi-toyi culture)
The conversation opened my eyes a little bit, that there's a lot to appreciate about South Africa. As I talked to more Botswana residents, and read one critical piece of journalistic writing, Botswana, despite being far more peaceful and having superior living standards (minimal crime, kindly people, minimal poverty, far-reaching welfare), has some serious warts smelly bits: abortion and homosexuality are illegal. I was shocked by these two, and most especially about the second one. What the fuck! And that the residents voted for such (the country is apparently very democratic) proves there's still a lot of work to be done.