The best reasons why South Africa is so much more
“South Africa hosts a playground full of destinations for the outdoor enthusiast. From the special features of having one of the ‘Wonders of the World’ in Table Mountain; to the second highest waterfall in the world, the Thukela Falls; the red Kalahari Sands; Mont Aux Sources, where three of the largest South African rivers begin their journey to the coast; and then the wildlife wonders of the Kruger National Park, Imfolozi Hluhluwe, Addo Elephant National Park, the Kgalagadi National Park and many others.”
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‘The We are South Africa’ video concept was formulated a couple of years to showcase some of the many aspects of South Africa. Today, I see the world in South Africa! From the people that live here, to the minerals, landscapes and biodiversity. But there is an underlying political tone that instead of trying to bring all South Africans together as our national motto says, ‘Unity through Diversity’, it is tugging us a part. It is this viewpoint that is slowly strangling South Africa, thereby creating division through continuous reminders of the wrongs of Apartheid, and playing on racial agendas.
Unfortunately there are a few people that voice their negative view points on different races. It is this that helps to drive the segregation of South Africa. Yes, during the Apartheid era there were many wrongs, but are we as South African’s going to learn form past mistakes by wilfully condoning racial segregation? I hope that the ‘We are South Africa’ video, along with all the other positive and beautiful things we have can help us to look up and forward. And to remind us that we all have the same ID books and passports! We are all citizens of this incredible country. The theme of We are South Africa, not only portrays our lives in South Africa, but also the natural beauty.
It was while I was conceptualising the video that there seemed to be only one choice of musical theme, the South African National Anthem. I then asked my friend Adin Walls if he would do a cover of the Anthem for me as part of the project. Adin has produced his own records and I believe his voice and sound would be well suited to the video. The Anthem is South African and starts with a prayer asking God to bless Africa and then leads to great descriptions of our natural diversity. It continues with a call to bring us together, to stand united, under the South African sky, harmonising the true beauty of this country. He willingly did the cover, and since then the time-lapse sequence has been drafted.
My long term objectives for this video and through other photography in the conservation and community space within which I work in is to continue to have hope in this country. To help people become more than they think they are, while looking after the natural beauty we are globally renowned for.
This journey has been turbulent and emotional! Five years ago my parents were hijacked, and my father was murdered! Thus our family became another criminal statistic. But this is not South Africa! This country is much more! As a country we have already achieved amazing milestones that are now used as global benchmarks from our banking systems, to medicine, design, environmental law and best management practice.
Over the years I have had the privilege of travelling through the majority of South Africa confirming it is an incredible country. There are so many unique scenes, incredible natural beauty and an incredible list of biodiversity with thousands of endemic species, only being found here. With over two thousand kilometres of coastline, and millions of square kilometres of ocean, where scientists are now working to unlock the oceans secrets. Leaving the coastline and heading inland one encounters a vast array of habitats and scenery. From the dry west coast to the subtropical east coast, with the Drakensberg, Cape Fold Mountains, Richtersveld, Kalahari, Nama and Succulent Karoo, grasslands, thicket, forest, savanna and Highveld in between. This diverse landscape gives South Africa the prize of having one of the highest levels of biodiversity and endemic species across the world. With the massive diversity of habitats and landscapes come the myriad of species from the smallest bugs to the big five, and everything in between that exists. With thousands of plant species, over 900 bird and butterfly species, thousands of insect and fish species, both fresh and sea water, hundreds of mammal, reptile and amphibian species, South Africa is brimming with colour, sounds and life.
From the diversity of the different cultures, the oldest being the San and Khoi to the later comers of the Zulu’s, Tswana, Xhosa, Sotho, English, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Ndebele, Tsonga and Venda. Its this array of culture that gives South Africa its uniqueness and beauty. And where the great cities of Cape Town, one of the top tourism destinations on the planet; Durban, Africa’s largest port, and Johannesburg, the economic hub of Africa, along with the other cities help drive more than just South Africa’s economy.
We are alive! But we need to be reminded every now and then about what we can achieve. The reality is that it is easy to get sucked into all the negativity that takes place in South Africa, but if we start looking at the positives and the beauty, we can be reminded of how incredible this country is. I’m not suggesting for a moment to whitewash the negatives, but to highlight and build on the positives.