Open letter to South African expatriates living abroad

Dear fellow South Africans

I’m not sure why you are living where you are, but I hope it is not because you have lost hope in the land of your birth. I trust your (re)location is temporary and that it is for the purpose of skills gathering, with the aim of returning one day.

Because when that day comes, you will find a South Africa which has rewoven her social fabric into a quilt so colourful and varied, that it’s going to keep us all warm and fuzzy into a bright future!

I want to tell you about what you missed during your Hinterland’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

I wish I knew the dictionary well enough to explain to you the tingle in my spine when I remember all the moments that add up to what we managed to achieve.?I want to explain in detail to you how nervous we all were a few days before the world descended on us with uncertain expectations – some anticipating excellence, while others were convinced of spectacular failure.?I want to tell you that we are not exactly sure how we did what we did … but we know that we are going to do it again!

Now when I look back, I want to convey to you my overwhelming sense of pride in our country. I want to explain to you the time I stood in the middle of Somerset Road, Green Point, in the middle of winter, surrounded by many thousands of people, all with one intention; to have as much fun as their shivering little bodies could muster.

I want to paint the picture of how Capetonians came out in their thousands to reclaim the city streets and public transport services; how they revelled with tourists alongside the minstrels; how smiling police officers posed for pictures and how protective we have all become over foreign visitors.

I want my words to adequately convey how an army of welcoming smiles can warm up an African winter from the inside out.

I wish you could feel the collective goose flesh in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, when locals finally experienced the literal meaning of “Rainbow Nation!” I know you saw the proud smile that Madiba flashed when he entered Soccer City for the final match between Spain and The Netherlands; but did you see the pride on the woman’s face when her young daughter greeted the Portuguese tourist with an uncertain “Ola,” when she asked for directions?

I swear there were times when I could reach out and touch the (Madiba) magic in the air, it was that palpable! I wish I can remember the exact words I thought at the exact moment when a young minstrel’s shimmering attire reminded me of my childhood fantasy and belief in something called angel dust.

I also want to explain the grins of satisfaction on the faces of other leaders who attended some of the numerous World Cup events staged all over the country.?I want to relive with you all the pictures and video clips that are popping up on websites from far and wide, so that together we can say “I was there!”

I’m sure if you take the time, you will find a video of me, wide-eyed and dazed, with jaw scrapping the sidewalk.

I know you saw pictures of a sea of people, flowing through Cape Town’s streets towards our brand new iconic stadium, sandwiched between Table Mountain and the Atlantic; but I want to find just the right word to describe the swell of pride that surged through us all. I’m thinking of comparing it to the feeling you get when your child wins the 100m sprint … but that doesn’t quite do it!

I want you to know exactly how it felt to stand inside one of the dozens of fan zones, festooned with sponsor merchandising and South Africans drunk on overdoses of awe and excitement. I want to explain how patriotic we all felt in our Bafana Bafana yellow, swelling with national pride – even after the boys exited the tournament. It continues to this day! I want to tell you that we can finally boast with the memories of impromptu street parties in our own back yards, instead of in some exotic land, like Ibiza, or Singapore!

I want to tell you how the World Cup has become a muse; uniting and inspiring a people that started to falter, but is now tripping over entrepreneurial ideas littering the road to success.

I want you to feel how wired we all still are and how invincible we feel as a nation.?Bring on the Olympic Games; the Commonwealth Games … the whateva!

I want to explain to you how we are all walking around, stupidly brimming from ear-to-ear, as if hooked up to an intravenous drip of euphoria. I want to describe the delicate tears of joyous relief and proud satisfaction that rolled down the cheeks of one of the many organisers on the last day of the Cape Town Fan Walk; like watching her first born take his first wobbly steps of freedom.

She had promised she wouldn’t. But she couldn’t resist … and it was a moment of beauty to equal the moment of beauty that brought it on.

I want you to know how every South African helped to realise Madiba’s dream, by reminding you of the many moments.

I want to find just the right words.
But I can’t, because I have been left speechless!

By Bobby Brown, who runs an events company that was partly responsible for the FIFA Final?Draw street party on 4 December 2009, the FIFA Fan Fest Launch Parade on 10 June 2010 and the Host City Cape Town Fan Walk. He is also a news anchor for Eyewitness News in Cape Town, presenting the breakfast news on 94.5 Kfm; and occasionally on 567 Cape Talk.Over the years, he has also written for numerous publications and presented several local television and radio shows.

This is the first time in recorded history that he has been left speechless!

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