Monday, January 30, 2017

The Idea

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa. I am white, English-speaking, went to a good school and had fantastic parents and brothers. I was 'free'. If freedom doesn't exist for everyone, freedom doesn't exist for anyone. We don't exist in isolation, and if we pretend to, we are all poorer for it.  I was not proudly South African until 1994. Part of a Rainbow Nation. That pride took a huge hit in 2008 with the Xenophobic attacks. The same borders defining Apartheid are how we define countries.

I am now an immigrant in the United Kingdom. In South Africa, I am officially a Soutie - with one foot in England and on the southern tip of Africa. Two homes. I was very proud of the British Citizenship ceremony in January 2015. It was like a United Nations convention with 48 people from all over the world hearing about a Britain that was more an idea than a country. More Rome. More America. A new world where ideas, relationships and passion are fired up to the dream of who we can be. Where we are empowered and empower each other. I was gutted when that dream was squashed in 2016.

I can get as fired up as the next guy. I love being part of a team. I am very competitive. But no. If my team is defined by crushing or standing apart from others, then I am on the wrong team. If I look left and right, and am gaining strength from those who would do others harm, I am on the wrong team.

So no. I am not Proudly South African. I am not Proudly British.

But I believe in the idea of South Africa, Britain, America and Rome. The idea that you can only whisper before it disappears. The idea that we are not defined by our difference, but by the things we share.

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