I remembering being in Clacton, Essex, with my girlfriend at the time when Nelson Mandela was released. Even for someone with no connection with South Africa at the time it was a momentous occasion. It seems to demonstrate that if you keep fighting for right, and keep fighting for right, you will eventually prevail.
Growing up in the UK in the 1970's and 1980's racism was rife, but everyone could vote and could go to the same shops, clubs, events etc. It wasn't easy to be anything but white, but I bet it was thousand times better than being black or 'coloured' in South Africa.
in 1999 I went to Comrades and started to appreciate the issues in SA, although only from a cossetted tourist's viewpoint. I met an amazing South African at Comrades, who 'persuaded' me to move to SA. It's the best decision I ever made, bar none. We lived in Hout Bay, a 'middle class' part of Cape Town, but with some serious drug and crime issues that impacts on everyone, still. I spent the first four years sleeping at night with anything from slight unease to outright fear, coming as I did from an area where a punch up in a pub was the most serious crime you'd encounter. We were burgled, but luckily didn't wake up. Lindsay was mugged out running. We had two acquaintances and colleagues murdered.
South Africa is no picnic, and anyone who tells you it is, is lying, or living in an environment where their interaction with the real South Africa is severely limited. BUT, I miss it like I've missed no other place I've lived. I cried today when I heard Madiba had passed away. I cried when I was at Loftus Versfeld for the SA v British Lion rugby test match and 50,000 South Africans sang the national anthem with more passion then I thought possible. Its a beautiful song.
The country is special, unique, and abundant in things that are important to life. The people appreciate life in a much purer sense than many do in first world countries. There's a beauty simplicity to life at times, especially in CT. Life can be completely infuriating, especially when you tangle with government, large organisations, or try and do a relatively simple task! However, South Africans always 'make a plan', normally just now! They enjoy the climate, the landscape, the fauna and flora to a high level. They love sport, the teams that represent the country, beers, braais and talking shit.
Standing on the start line at Comrades is the epitome of the rainbow nation, with runners of all backgrounds shoulder to shoulder, with the same road in front of them. The rainbow nation somehow gets along despite, or maybe because of it's history.
"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended. Nelson Mandela"