An international cricket journalist recently wrote a scathing post about his “horrid” trip to South Africa. I just arrived back and decided to check out some of his experiences.
Johannesburg, South Africa (22 March 2023) – I’m back!!! And jussie, it feels good! One of the best things about travelling is coming back home. Always. Even if it’s a short trip.
I recently had the honour of going to the world premiere in Berlin of the new Dungeons and Dragons movie, hitting our screens later this month. My review will be out before the end of the week.
But last week, on my way to the airport, I read a scathing post by an International cricket journalist. He had travelled to South Africa to cover the USA team at the Women’s U19 Cricket World Cup. His entire journey was filled with the most horrendous situations… from cleaners in the bathrooms intimidating him for tips, to airport staff members “strong-arming his luggage cart”, police harassing him, waiters taking little interest in him, to him not going to cricket games because he was scared to drive around. The crescendo of the entire piece of writing (and trip) was when a group of thugs at a petrol station – dressed as security guards – tricked him into going to an ATM (to apparently pay for his etolls), where he gave them his bankcard pin and then they ran away with his card. Oh, and he also spoke extensively about loadshedding, the noise of generators, potholes and Joburg’s dilapidated infrastructure.
It was a long-hard read but what bothered me most about the piece was that there was absolutely no good to be found. Not one single thing.
He concludes the entire piece by advising people never to visit South Africa. He tells his readers to not go “UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES”. That post has garnered 465 shares, 536 sad/surprised and angry faces and 923 comments.
Upon landing back this morning, I decided to put myself in his shoes and “uncover” what arriving in South Africa is like.
My first interaction was with the customs officer. He greeted me with a “Sawubona” and asked where I had come from. He asked if I had a good trip. He then asked me to teach him to say something in German. I told him that “Danke Schön” means thank you. He replied that so did Dankie and Ngiyabonga in South Africa. We both laughed and off I went. I then headed to the bathroom to investigate the “conmen” cleaners… they were nowhere to be found. Just a smiley face who welcomed me to “his office”. He didn’t intimidate me or demand a tip. In fact, I didn’t even see a tip-glass. While leaving the terminal, I desperately searched for people who might want to “strong-arm” my luggage. To my dismay, I was only met with a few taxi drivers who called me “Sir” and asked if I needed a lift to anywhere or if my ride had been sorted.
It was all good. Like, all of it.
I wasn’t planning on going to an ATM to give my pin away but you get the gist of where I am going with this?
Why was my experience so different to his?
Is it because I’m South African? Is it because I approached everyone with good intentions? Or is it because I believe the way we see the world, depends on how we look at it?
I dunno. Could be all of it, or none of it. Maybe I’m just lucky?
What I do know is that man had a horrible trip. And I feel for him. And Ja, we have poverty, and crime, and terrible leadership, and our infrastructure could do with more than a spit and polish but I believe more than anything that the majority of South Africans are so flipping lekker.
The majority of us are filled with love, and kindness, and good things. The people of this country are what make it so great – there are a few bad apples but most of us are flipping fantastic people – and I genuinely hope he returns one day and experiences the South Africa I know.
Actually, anyone reading this from around the world, please do visit… just stay away from anyone who tells you to pay an etoll.
Man, it’s good to be home.
Okay. Love you. Bye.
Ok so I felt I had to reply to this.
I am from Belfast Northern Ireland and have certainly had our fair share of bad publicity … although sadly mostly warranted . I am just home from my first ever trip to South Africa and I can tell you it won’t be my last ! I was blown away by the scenery , the food , the experiences and the people . We arrived in Capetown exhausted and a little apprehensive about what to expect . Our first experience was at passport control where the officer who met us was smiling and humming to music in his seat ! He said hello and stamped our passports , our usual experience at customs is quite the opposite and we are usually greeted as if we our about to plunder the entire nation. Onwards to our hotel , there was zero drama and when we arrived the staff were super friendly and were clearly very proud to be working in such a great hotel. We stayed for a few days in Hout Bay and then a few days in Hermanus We had the joy of being in Hout Bay for the Argus cycle race which was filled with cheering ,support ,music and encouragement . The food was incredible and everywhere we went people welcomed us and chatted . We experienced a beautiful country that is obviously facing huge social and economic challenges but so is most of the world in 2023. I can’t wait to come back to see more of South Africa and hopefully I won’t have too long to wait .