Proudly South African....
Proudly South African…
As I walked my dogs the other day, I walked past a woman singing in a beautiful resonant voice. Clear and melodic through her face mask, I wanted to follow her just to keep listening. I pondered and came to the realisation that despite the hardships compounded by COVID-19 and all the negativity surrounding corruption, despite the chronic state of the economy and the deteriorating SOE’s, South Africans are, by and large still hugely positive and a fiercely patriot bunch. And innovative, when you look at how entrepreneurial South Africans are and how they have adapted to the pandemic and sourced or manufactured what is needed to help us all through, it is remarkable.
And all this somehow fills me with a sense of both joy and purpose and the resolve to soldier on and get through this.
On 4th Avenue, there is a sense of camaraderie, a sense where we can help one another wherever we can and where we feel the pain of the businesses in difficulty and the sadness of those who haven’t made it.
And as I look out my shop door and down the street of the once again bustling 4th Avenue, I reflect on the South African culture and the things that make it so. From the hawkers selling their beautifully crafted wares, to the car guards in their blue bibs, the residents walking their dogs to the surrounding parks, the cyclists grabbing their morning coffees, the shop owners waving to each other as they open up and prepare their stores for the day’s trade, it dawns on me what social beings we are and how important this all is to us. Perhaps it is more obvious to me, as I am originally from Australia but have lived here with my South African husband and children for many years. I feel South African even though I wasn’t born here. And I support the BOKS regardless of their opposition!
I am avoiding the local news at the moment – too much negativity – corruption, corruption and even more corruption and news on the state of the economy and how the pandemic has affected big and small businesses.
It is heartbreaking to see businesses close permanently and the 2.2 million in job losses attributed to the lockdown. But what I would like to hear from the media, is a few more positive stories amidst the wreckage. I feel like I am bombarded daily with negativity and anxiety and health-wise for all of us personally and economically, that can’t be good. So I have made a pact with myself, I skim the headlines but don’t read anything negative on the economy. PEOPLE drive the economy and with a bit of positivity, we can all get South Africa back on track. Especially if we adopt the collective consciousness to buy local and think before we buy.
I heard a local economist on the news yesterday (my husband was watching as I cooked – as I don’t watch anymore), who told us that we had hit the bottom – the very bottom – rock bottom. I took this as positive, ‘cause let’s face it, if you’re at the bottom, there’s only one way to go and that’s up – right?
That’s my take on it and I am sticking to it. We are now officially on the upward trajectory for the economy and if more people adopt the attitude that we actually can save this broken economy and work towards re-employing those who lost their jobs, we will all survive and eventually thrive. You can’t put aside the corruption of the past years but you can try to be positive that at least the government appears to be trying to put into place decent people to investigate and bring those slippery corrupt characters to book.
I liken the government to the titanic. A huge ship that can’t turn as quickly as entrepreneurs on their small boats can. No matter who is at the helm, the ship can only turn slowly but it does turn eventually, we just don’t need any more icebergs!
So I am putting on my big girl panties and looking forward to a more positive future for South Africa. I am now consciously trying to personally buy local, from the in-season fruit, to clothing, I am concentrating my efforts to put South African businesses first. And also, at the Pyjama Shop we are sourcing more local fabrics, more local accessories and our factories are producing 80% of our product locally. We are hoping to be able to get them to 90% within the next year. It is definitely much harder to manufacture than to simply import, but the knowledge that it is helping more South Africans is definitely worth the effort.
Thanks for reading,