Being a thoroughbred South African married to an Australian, I am often exposed to the similarities and differences between our countries, cultures, political landscape and levels of patriotism.
I have recently been reminded of this by my in-laws' recent visit to South Africa (some may prefer outlaw as a more appropriate term for an Australian mother-in-law).
While somewhat annoyed at times over the years by their na239ve, blinkered ignorance, masked racism (without actually even realising it), veiled draconian colonialist comments, patronising tone and presumptuous approach to complex issues within South Africa and Africa, I have become somewhat intrigued more than ever by their unwavering loyalty and almost blind patriotism towards their own country.
Clearly this can be extremely dangerous in its blinkered, myopic view of the world, opening the door to uncontested political, social and economic breakdown. However, despite being non-religious, and quite openly critical of "blind faith", this form of "blind faith" in your own country is perhaps something we in South Africa could do with a little more of.
Very few of us would contest the fact that our newspapers and other media are full of negative sentiment. Despite the fact that digging out the dirt in everything keeps power-hungry politicians and other leaders of our society in much-needed check, it does perpetuate the view that nothing is positive.
South Africans themselves are the country's biggest critics, and even enemies. I'm often embarrassed when I hear South Africans talking about their country to foreign visitors, leaving the tourist clearly focused on the negatives and almost oblivious to the positives that abound.
The exact opposite is true of Australia. Pick up any newspaper or listen to any TV news report there and you would be forgiven for thinking that Australia was the centre of the universe and squeakiest sanitation platter on the planet. As a result, Australians lap up the insignificant political drivel and globally inconsequential national matters they are led to believe are the most important issues facing the world, ignorant, perhaps, of what may be lurking.
Australian visitors cannot understand why we don't have daily news on wrangling between their two (almost completely undifferentiated) political parties, the "problems" they're having with the influx of non "Aussie-Aussie" embracing Indians and Lebanese immigrants (who, god forbid, don't have Aussie accents or even know who Nicole Kidman is), or the fact that the ever-important Aussie stock exchange closing prices are not in our daily newspapers. …