Picking up litter on Mandela Day I was reflecting on the day the great man was released. I remember it well as it was the day I was flying down to start my degree at UCT. The riot police were in full force at Jan Smuts Airport and as a result I missed my flight. Yet despite all our paranoia, nothing happened.
There have been so many of those moments since we feared the end was nigh (not without just cause); Chris Hani’s assassination; the first elections; the nomination of Tito Mboweni and Trevor Manuel as our financial leaders; the collapse of the rand in 1998. We can even add Eskom to that list. Many of us are pretty surprised our lights still work. Yet somehow we are still standing.
On that day 19 years ago imagine if someone had told us that in the midst of a global meltdown our banks would be ranked amongst the most stable in the world, Moody’s had just upgraded our foreign sovereign debt to A3, we were about to hold the World Cup Soccer, we would have a Zulu leader and that Mandela was voted the most likely person to be World President?
But maybe we are starting to feel more confident about our country. When the rand tumbled last year we didn’t panic; when Cope rose as opposition to the ANC we did not fear civil war; and many South Africans believe now, after the success of the IPL and Confed Cup that we may just pull off one of best World Cup’s ever. Our history shows us that we are more likely than not to be pleasantly surprised.