Where is our national pride?

Simon Dingle made an interesting comment when we were in Japan recently. He spoke about how in Japan there is a sense of tremendous national pride coupled with an almost unspoken distinction drawn between the Japanese and people who are simply not Japanese. This pride inspires the Japanese to be so good at what they do.

Colour by coda.jpgI was thinking about the stuff we put up with here and Simon’s point got me thinking about South African national pride, or rather, the apparent lack thereof. Despite the hope for a rainbow nation in the early years after the 1994 elections, we remain a deeply divided nation. We are divided across all the lines which we hoped to bridge: race, gender, cultural heritage, political alignment and religion. There has been talk in the past about what it actually means to be South African and what identifying as South African actually means beyond being a statement of citizenship.

I just don’t know that there is a coherent sense of South African identity. We don’t have the kind of national identity and national pride that drives us to do better and excel at what we do as South Africans. We are far more concerned with our own communities and, in many cases, even smaller groups of people we identify with. The distinction between South African and not South African is a question of which ID book you hold. Without a clear and strong sense of national pride we remain a hodgepodge collection of racial, cultural, political, religious and gender-based groups huddling under this umbrella term: “South African”. This boils down to a lack of respect for each other as human beings and fellow South Africans and we see that in our daily lives through the way people treat each other and how we don’t look at each other anymore.

Even our government doesn’t speak about a rainbow nation anymore. Have we lost our national pride altogether?

Image: Colour by coda licensed under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial ShareAlike 2.0 license


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Paul

Enthusiast, writer, strategist, web developer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

7 Comments

  1. This country is divided on so many planes that drawing up an acceptable graphic model of the various identities which constitute a “south african” identity and thus a sense of communal nationalism might taken a life time.

    I think that this nation is fragmented because of the current disparities in the class system; I’d hate to sound like a commie so let me refrain from that approach and continue that suggestion with the argument that as the nation becomes more polarized i.e. the space between the rich and the poor widens we will ultimately see a far greater chasm widening and deepening between the have’s and the have nots and these two splintered groups will approach this country in two radically different views and will ultimately have two separate and incongruent views of the future of this country.

    Might I also add one more thing; the rainbow nation discourse and its obvious flaws were and are never to be thought of as a marker of this nations democracy, it was a marketing ploy and a cheap crap one at that. It suggested a merger between the various “colours” of the rainbow, and whilst that sounds fantastic is mere retoric as it implies a forced merger which is not how change occurs. One last point on the rainbow saga; if and when someone can point out where the black and white resides on that mult-coloured banner ad for co-existence then perhaps I’ll have more of a reason to believe in it.

    I actually penned a poem about our fractured nationality; which you can find at http://www.moralfibre.co.za/2008/05/08/a-journe… it was an attempt when I was younger and still reading fiction 🙂 at providing an overview of the various individuals I met mentally each day when thinking about my / our / your country.

    Good post though it got me thinking as you may well have guessed.

  2. This country is divided on so many planes that drawing up an acceptable graphic model of the various identities which constitute a “south african” identity and thus a sense of communal nationalism might taken a life time.

    I think that this nation is fragmented because of the current disparities in the class system; I'd hate to sound like a commie so let me refrain from that approach and continue that suggestion with the argument that as the nation becomes more polarized i.e. the space between the rich and the poor widens we will ultimately see a far greater chasm widening and deepening between the have's and the have nots and these two splintered groups will approach this country in two radically different views and will ultimately have two separate and incongruent views of the future of this country.

    Might I also add one more thing; the rainbow nation discourse and its obvious flaws were and are never to be thought of as a marker of this nations democracy, it was a marketing ploy and a cheap crap one at that. It suggested a merger between the various “colours” of the rainbow, and whilst that sounds fantastic is mere retoric as it implies a forced merger which is not how change occurs. One last point on the rainbow saga; if and when someone can point out where the black and white resides on that mult-coloured banner ad for co-existence then perhaps I'll have more of a reason to believe in it.

    I actually penned a poem about our fractured nationality; which you can find at http://www.moralfibre.co.za/2008/05/08/a-journe… it was an attempt when I was younger and still reading fiction 🙂 at providing an overview of the various individuals I met mentally each day when thinking about my / our / your country.

    Good post though it got me thinking as you may well have guessed.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts Vincent. The more I think about this the more I see this as yet another fundamental issue the government is not addressing (for whichever reasons) and which it should address.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts Vincent. The more I think about this the more I see this as yet another fundamental issue the government is not addressing (for whichever reasons) and which it should address.

What do you think?

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