Today marked a historic day in my life... Ok maybe 'historic' is a bit strong, but the novelty sure made it feel that way!
Today will be known as the day it snowed in Johannesburg. For someone who has never experienced snow at all, I took delight along with my fellow first-timers in making the most of it and ended up spending most of the day acting like a little child in the white surroundings. It truly was something I never thought I would see in my own country, nevermind my hometown! Somewhere in the middle of my snowball fight, my adult brain returned for a brief moment and it dawned on me the pathetic fallacy that the snow represented. I'd like to share that with you...
For us here in South Africa, snow has always been associated with another world, far away, only to be seen in movies and on distant relatives' facebook profiles. Our weather here is notoriously good, and we are definitely spoilt in that regard. So when snow started to fall, naturally we were questioning what was happening - something was clearly wrong. However, what I think - is that the world is simply becoming smaller. As technology, travel and knowledge has accelerated we have started sharing communication, skills, people, ideas, arms, alms and now - weather. Globalisation is a huge buzzword these days and is heavily overused, but it is for good reason! The boundaries that used to separate cultures, classes and empires are evaporating day by day as the world shrinks. Reams have been written on the positive and negative side-effects of this - but at the end of the day it is inevitable. There is nothing we can do about it. We can't stop it snowing in Johannesburg. It is not an easy concept to stomach, as people are very happy in their comfort zones and dealing with people they can explicitly relate to. But going forward, that will not be possible and as individuals we need to come to terms with that and start preparing ourselves accordingly.
In South Africa, I believe, we have a huge head-start because of the variety of cultures, races and lifestyles that call our nation their home. We have more exposure to the various nuances of the human race than the vast majority of our world and it is not something we should take for granted. It is easy to sit back, explain the Apartheid story, and pay lip service to the fact that we are all one nation, one people. However, there is always more to be done - especially if we want to be the world benchmark. (Which I really believe we should be) We cannot afford to sit back, we must be making a continuous effort to unite, respect and understand each other. This understanding needs to be genuine and sincere and not simply used as a means to an end. If we can achieve the sort of inter-cultural bond that is possible among the many in South Africa, connecting with cultures elsewhere will be a breeze! If we can develop these skills quicker than most, we put ourselves in great stead going forward into the smaller world where labels won't define how things are done, where flags won't divide, where colour will only be a talking point in art galleries.
There are plenty of positive signs that we are heading in the right direction - the way our nation is behind our Olympians is a great example, but the challenge is to sustain that sort of spirit over long periods of time, without major sporting triumphs to rely on.
Boundaries are blurring, walls are breaking.
The world is shrinking. It's snowing in Johannesburg.