I am writing this post while watching the 46664 London concert and I write these remarks as an immediate response to what I am seeing on my television screen. I know that this post will be contentious to some but I do hope they spark debate...
The massive crowd gathered in Hyde Park is witnessing a fabulous line-up of international and South African artists all presenting their music as well as their comments on Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his 90th birthday. As the camera pans over the crowd many South African flags are seen flying proudly above their holders and the crowd joins in celebrating the Soweto Gospel Choir as they sing a chorus of "Jive Soweto!".
I cannot help but wonder how many of the attendees who now proudly wave their SA flags are expats who tomorrow will find themselves around dinner tables across London criticising the South African government, moaning about the high crime rate, the electricity supply problems and so on. Many of these people have legitimate concerns but have chosen to emigrate to so-called "greener pastures" where they justify their decision to leave their homeland by telling others how awful life is in South Africa.
I would like to think that these same people have skills aplenty which our country now needs. Their expertise and knowledge need to be channeled into creating employment opportunities and training and equipping local business owners and labourers.
Is this patriotism misplaced? Is all the flag-waving and cheering for South Africa the expression of an inner desire to return to the homeland?
The question I ask is this - If you have chosen to leave South Africa because of how little hope you have for its future, how can you stand in a crowd and proudly wave a South African flag? Is this not hypocritical?
As I wrote early in this post, I know this is a contentious and sensitive issue. I write this as I watch the 46664 concert and this reflects my immediate response and gut feeling.
Your response is welcome ...
For a related post see this post from June 2007.