Well known travel magazine Conde Nast[sic] has recently published a poll which ranked cities across the world according to their friendliness the number on one that list was the infamous Johannesburg.
I had several conversations about these findings with people living in the city there were probable as they were in disbelief reactions like “who conducts these surveys? Are they accurate?” “What were their standards?”
What was most also upsetting to Joburgers was that the rival city Cape Town was ranked number 8 in the friendliest cities one would hear reactions like “But Cape Town is racist” I cannot disagree with that statement.
Since the release of the statistics whenever I see those sightseeing busses around filled with tourists I have to fight off the urge of waving like crazy to prove to them that we’re not that unfriendly. On the other hand it almost makes me feel rough like imagine telling someone you’ve lived in the unfriendliest city in the world for over 20 years that seems quite G to me.
I cannot comprehend how the conductors of the survey based our friendliness on the other hand our high crime rate was mentioned we are however working on that I have some hope in Riah Phiyega to help us lower the daunting statistics.
I have lived in the city all my life which might make me somewhat immune to the unfriendliness which goes on in our day-to-day activities.
I then took a moment and pondered to myself, should we really be that surprised? We may think we’re friendly but ask John the gardener, Sarah the tea lady, or even Sipho standing on the roadside with the big sign begging for lunch whom I commend for being witty
We have somehow decided that only certain people deserve our friendliness and sometimes even fake it. We pretend to be too busy to be friendly, which if you ask me is quite preposterous, and intentionally pretending to avoid certain acts of friendliness seems like a lot of hard work to me.
Ubuntu is a term South Africans embrace. It is defined as human-ness or humanity towards others being labelled the most unfriendly city leaves doubt in my heart of this beautiful notion and its ability to unite us. We are quickly losing the understanding of this idea classism has replaced the philosophy.
When we see an individual in need we simply lock the doors, turn of the lights or merely listen to the screams without doing anything about it. I wonder if one of Reeva Steenkamp’s neighbours had decided to go to the house after hearing the screams would have gone and enquired if everything is okay or even calling security requesting them to check would we be in a different scenario right now, possibly.
This endemic of being unfriendly is quite contagious, over the past more and more cases of road rage, violent incidences and we seem to be even more nonchalant about it than ever not realising the impact of sweeping such matters under the carpet, if it doesn’t affect me directly I just have a “moment” of sympathy then go about business as usual.
When a frog is put in a pot of hot water it immediately jumps out, but when is put in a pot with cold water and the water is gradually heated it accepts the water and keeps swimming not realising when the water is too hot the frog eventually dies never realising when it was supposed to jump out.
The legend seems inhumane but it is to metaphoric let us not be that frog that doesn’t realise when its time to speak up against heinous activities around us, the time to speak is now the water is slowly becoming more heated.
Nelson Mandela once said that “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We have learnt to be unfriendly and we can also learn to be friendlier as it comes more naturally to the human heart
Ubuntu is a notion which still has as much relevance in today’s culture as before, it is what makes us distinct as Africans it is something we should be able to practice whether you’re in a Gautrain or just train, whether you’re driving a Porsche or even the “drive a new car for R699”. It should resonate within us no matter the class we’re in.