AT THE risk of sounding like the tear-jerk Volkswagen TV
commercial, I too have been wondering about where home is – and where I
For a long time, I've imagined being surrounded by a tribe
of "Earth warriors" who, like the 12-year-old inner boy scout
personality I harbour, stare with shock at the impact we have on the world we
occupy. I am calmly taking stock.
I place my disillusion on a scale where, on the one end, a
lady casually tosses her burning cigarette butt from her car window on a hot
and windy Cape Town spring afternoon.
On the other tip, a near-hysterical salmon-fasting
population that (threatens to) boycott a respected retailer for its efforts to
undo the unjust past in certain segments of its employment.
Somewhere in the middle of the scale, a couple of hectares
into the valley of egotism, I get lost in the woods of isolation, and stop to
ask for directions.
If you need to pause to ponder the existence of modern men
asking for directions, do so now.
On both sides of tosser and boycotter, my scale is lined
with speedsters, non-public transport users, electricity abusers, sms-typing
drivers, tik heads, textbook burners, anti-Cape Town Stadium protestors,
corrupt officials and a gallery of nouveaux riche activists who protest for
none of the aforementioned.
And big SUVs driving in bus lanes.
The list is actually much longer, but I have to limit
My point is, the scale does not exist universally; the age
of a collective big brother that thinks on behalf of me and my breed has
lapsed; the tarred brush used to paint a picture of what I'm allowed to express
publically has been dipped in honey.
The consequence of it all is too big for some to express.
(And I know now I feature prominently on somebody else's scale too.)
Yet the task of balancing the scale resides squarely on my
shoulders. To get me there, I fill my tank with faith in my fellow citizen.
I cheer every South African Paralympian crossing the line,
whether first or last; I patiently complete customer satisfaction surveys with
annoying proactive call centre agents that never get my first name quite right;
I drink locally brewed beer (sometimes more than needed); I eat a spinach pie
from the village market.
And I do so without expecting a boulevard or pedestrian
bridge being named after me or my tax number.
If the economy does better, and my fellow countrymen
participate better in it, I do better.
These are the days of citizenry that fill the void until I
figure out how the next chapter of my existence will bring value and meaning to
those that will read the memoirs I hide deep inside my imaginary vault.
I too have dreams of belonging, and of being a unique
palette filler of the rainbow children that raise the hairs on sceptics' arms
But beyond the thrill of a fake Castle Beer-type commercial
moment, I desire the rise of a nation that steps together, in tiny tentative
paces if needed, towards a place of dignity.
My failure to moderate exhausts me. The fatigue could also
be from waking up from the annual slumber of winter passing.
I try hard to leave only tiny urban traces while enjoying my
time here, and must now work even harder to not be stampeded by those who don't
apply the same scale of priorities.
* Searching for moderation, but often fuelled by heated
conversations, Adriaan feeds his mind on Twitter as @aiBester – while he
co-ponders a @FutureCapeTown