Paul Harris Don’t Stress About SA Email Goes Viral
FirstRand Bank founder and former CEO, Paul Harris sent a reply
email to a concerned friend, summing up the situation in SA.
Somehow the email got out and you can read it here. It is exactly
what 2oceansvibe has been saying about SA for the last years, and
we applaud Paul for his positive energy and pride.
Hope all is well with you guys. I will drop you a line later with
the family news but I would first like to respond to the e-mail you
sent me attaching an article by Clem Sunter, which seemed to
concern you about us here in South Africa.
You also sent me an article last year by Moeletsi Mbeki warning
about the danger of an Arab Spring in South Africa. I often get
e-mails like this from concerned friends worried about us, which
is sweet of you guys. Of course we are concerned. Some worrying
things have happened but we have been through and survived much
worse in much more volatile environments. Including the Boer War,
two World Wars, apartheid, the financial crisis without a bank
bailout, the Rindapest, Ge Korsten and Die Antwoord!
However, for as long as I can remember there have always been
people who think SA has five years left before we go over the
cliff. No change from when I was at school in the sixties. The five
years went down to a few months at times in the eighties!
But it seems the people who are the most worried live far from the
cliff in places like Toronto, Auckland, London and other wet and
cold places. Also from St Ives and Rose Bay in Sydney, Dallas and
Europe and other safe places that are in the grip of the global
financial crisis, which by the way is quite scary. Many of them
have survived decades of rolling five years left since they left
South Africa. So maybe they will be right one day!
My message is, please dont stress about us in South Africa. We are
fine. We are cool. We know we live in the most beautiful country in
the world with warm and vibrant people. There are more people here
with smiles on their faces than in any country I have ever been to.
Young people are returning in droves with skills and a positive
attitude. Collectively we bumble along and stuff many things up
while letting off a hell of a lot of steam (have you heard of a
chap called Julius Malema?). Yet in between South Africans do some
amazing things like win a few gold medals, big golf tournaments and
cricket and rugby matches.
The South Africans I know get off their butts and do things to
build our country rather than whinge from a position of comfort. We
actively participate in projects that improve the lot of
underprivileged communities. I would not trade for anything last
Saturday in a hall full of 1500 African teachers singing at the top
of their voices and demonstrating their commitment to improving
education in their communities.
We have our challenges and surprises. The standard deviation of our
emotions are set at MAX. You are never just a little bit happy or
a little bit sad. At one moment you can be off the scale pissed
off or frustrated or sad or worried or fearful or depressed. The
next moment you are off the scale exhilarated, or enchanted, or
inspired, or humbled by a kind deed, or surprised by something
beautiful. It makes life interesting and worth living.
We also have passionate debates about the future of SA. Helped of
course by red wine which you must taste again because it is getting
better every year! Clem makes a great contribution to the debate as
others like Moletsi Mbeki do. Russell Loubser, the former head of
the JSE, made a feisty speech the other day that has whipped up
emotions. Up to MAX on the emotions meter of the ANC Youth League
whose campaign for nationalisation of the mines was attributed to
people who have IQs equal to room temperature.
South African politics has always been volatile, we have opinions
that could not be further apart and it evokes emotion on a massive
scale. Interesting and stimulating for those that want to take it
seriously but noise in the system to me. Fortunately we are rid of
apartheid that would have definitely pushed us over the cliff.
These are the birth pangs of a new and unpredictable democracy. So
buckle up and enjoy the ride and contribute! That is the message I
convey to South Africans.
Sad as it is, it is true that the South African diaspora has a
largely negative influence on confidence in South Africa. It would
not be a problem if their fretting about how long we will last
before we go over the cliff was merely a reflection of their
concern for us, their friends and family.
The problem is that it does impact foreign investment, which is
important for economic growth. A person who is thinking of coming
to visit or investing is often put off by listening wide-eyed to
the stories of people who have gapped it.
As you know I host many foreign visitors and I have never, EVER,
met anyone who has visited for the first time without being blown
away by the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people. It
is not for nothing that South Africa has the highest ratio of
repeat visitors of all long-haul destinations.
So, Jeff, how can I help you stop stressing out about us? Maybe
best is that you get exposed to some articles and websites that
give a more balanced and uplifting perspective of South Africa. So
please dont worry and if you get a chance, put in a good word for
All the best
Blogger Barry: Thanks for your time. Hope you enjoyed. Please
use the comment and follow buttons.
Barry Blomkamp Nd. Bsc (UL)
Professional Public Speaker, Trainer and Corporate Entertainer,
Motivational speaker, Guest & Key note speaker, Seminar &
Conference speaker, Team Builder, Comedian, Master of Ceremonies,
For your Strategic Planning sessions, Management or Sales meetings,
Conferences and/or Seminars, Award functions, Year end parties,
Cape Town, South Africa.