When was the last time we made world headlines for something good? Certainly not recently. Front pages worldwide have been covered in Oscar stories, mostly centred as in Time Magazine, on South Africa as the murder capital of the world.
Before that, photos of the Marikana massacre even beat Jimmy Savile off many British papers and since that fateful day on 26 February when a bunch of rogue cops took it upon themselves to end the life of Mido Macia in such a brutal way that story also flashed around the world.
And when I say flashed I mean just that. No more do we rely on a few newspapers, which only certain sectors of the community read - now online news sites, as well as Facebook, Twitter and in this last case YouTube, spreads the word in the worst possible way.
To make us look even more like a banana republic we had the classic story of eight-year-old Sanele Masilela marrying 61 Helen Shabangu, kisses and all, after his ancestors allegedly told him to! The photos of this tiny guy in his little silver suit sitting next to his bride and the video footage of them dancing together is beyond belief!
And the list goes on. There are good news stories happening here every day and as a friend of mine said recently 'Even with all our problems, this is still paradise,' - the trouble is how do you tell people overseas this? That it's safe to come visit with their dollars, euros and pounds...
'Do you own a gun? Do you keep it under your pillow?'
When you're in the UK you only have to mention you're from South Africa and the questions start coming from people with very worried looks. "How do you get out of your house without being murdered? Do you have a guard to take you everywhere? Do you sleep with a gun under your pillow?' The list goes on. And of course they have absolutely no intention of visiting our crime-riddled shores.
The irony is of course once they come they're generally hooked and some even end up coming back to live. Right now I have friends from Denmark who worked here a number of years ago and are coming back permanently and friends in Ireland following suit. That's because they've actually been here and understand the reality.
There's no denying we have problems - and big ones at that but the point is shouldn't someone be telling the good news? There are a couple of South African websites that do this but I guess they aren't read by the people who count.
We need to change perceptions
There should be a Minister of Reputation Management who does nothing else but devote every waking minute to following up on bad news stories going out and balancing them with some good news ones. I mean yes, we do great when it comes to major sporting events, but these are few and far between. Although maybe when we have international cricket someone should go around giving out banners for people to hold up saying things like "I've not been mugged in over a year or South Africa is safe to visit - promise."
I'm not sure what it takes to change the perception of how others see us but one thing's for sure, real tourism, the type we should be enjoying isn't happening here and it could change our economy around totally. With that would come employment, meaning less crime - and more good news...
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