David J Smith
David J Smith

The Africans are coming

No matter your feelings on it, South Africa has been obsessed with the Spear. Many see it as a slur on the dignity of black people in South Africa. While others have held it up as an icon of freedom. It has consumed our media space and been on everyone’s minds.

The whole issue has left the country divided. But if, for a second, everyone decided to look up from the presidential penis, and see the world beyond, they would realise this is not the time for division but for unity. While South Africa bickers, Africa is getting on with being awesome.

South Africa’s right to the title, “The Gateway to Africa” is under challenge. As this article in the Economist lays out in a fairly frank manner, we are under threat. I will not pretend to be an economic genius, but looking at the numbers, Nigeria and Egypt are biting at our heels. And given our current mediocrity in government, our poor education, and inability to get on, there is a good chance they are going to catch us on our massively over-sized Achilles’ Heel.

Remember District 9? It was full of Nigerians as the bad guys. It was all very fun. We could look down at our northern cousins because we were stronger than them. District 10 may well be a very different film. Set in the new capital of Africa, Lagos, with a bunch of crazed South Africans as the bad guys.

Obviously that is still hyperbole. But if we do lose our number one position, things will get tougher. Transformation will be harder. There will be fewer jobs, less opportunities, and a lot less fun times. Plus we will be lumbered with the constant regret of losing our spot as top dog.

Number two is never nice. Ask Dave Mustaine of Megadeth. After he got kicked out of the number one metal band in the world, Metallica, he spent his entire life trying to recapture that. Didn’t matter that he sold 20-million records with Megadeth, he just wanted to be back at number one – his life has been defined by that. To the point that in a meeting with Metallica, he broke down and cried, lamenting his life at number two. We don’t want to be Megadeth, we want to be Metallica. But to stay at number one, we need to act as one.

And by one, I don’t mean one love. Rather a unity of cause. An understanding of the common good that comes from working in the same direction. It’s like at work, you may have a beef with the guy next to you, but for the sake of success, you bite your lip, and get on with it. We need to be a bit more like that. And in ten years if we are still keen on fighting, we can throw cocktails on each other around the pool at the Mount Nelson.

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