Reasons to believe: Ten things that make South Africa the best place to be

Debora Patta, South Africa’s well-known TV personality and investigative journalist for Third Degree, inspired visitors to the third day of Meetings Africa 2012.

Entitled “Ten reasons why South Africa is the best place to be”, Patta’s presentation was a cheerful addition to the programme of events at Africa’s business tourism lekgotla. Her reasons to believe shed light on the positive aspects of South Africa.

1.     Despite everything, we often get it right

Patta referenced South Africa’s successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as an example of a nation that despite all odds often delivers an astounding product.

2.     We have one of the most liberal and free constitutions in the world

Having travelled extensively, Patta described some of the horrific structures of power that rule nations such as Iraq, Somalia, Congo, Darfur and Rwanda. “Our constitution is upheld as one of the most superb pieces of legislation in existence today,” she said. “As a journalist, the worst I can expect is not censorship or being detained for my views, it is a guest who refuses to come to the show,” she added.

3.     This is a courageous country

When speaking about courage, and how South Africans manage to draw on deep reservoirs of courage when faced with difficult situations, Patta referred to a young girl who was gang raped. After laying a charge of rape and testifying against her rapists, the 14-year-old girl was subjected to another revenge rape that the original perpetrators had planned while in prison. After she was left for dead, she again laid a charge, went to court and again sent her perpetrators to jail. “People have a courageous nature here,” Patta said.

4.     We are a compassionate nation

Patta related a story of child abuse where, following the arrest and sentencing of the parents, three young children were left at the mercy of a social system. “As children of abuse, these kids were not nice,” she said, adding that they stole food, were agressive and sexually promiscuous as a result of their parental grooming. “Following the show on Third Degree, hundreds of thousands of people offered to adopt the children,” she said. “We open our hearts and our pockets when we need to.”

5.     We are a nation that perseveres

“On 10 May 1994, a young mother gave birth to her first child,” said Patta, telling the story about a baby that was stolen from the Marymount Hospital. “Baby Michaela Hunter, only one day old, was stolen from the hospital. After nearly 24 months of searching for her, she was found. Her parents displayed remarkable perseverance; they never stopped looking for their child," she said.

6.     We are a nation of entrepreneurs

“We invented the CAT scan, open heart surgery, barbed wire, Pratley’s putty, “ said Patta. According to her, South Africans have had to find solutions in complicated situations, and often these solutions are copied the world over.

7.     We find heroes in the most unlikely of places

Nkosi Johnston was a young AIDS victim who became a hero and national spokesperson at the World Aids Forum, at the age of 11. “Here, ordinary people do extraordinary things; that is what it means to be a South African,” she said.

8.     South Africa is a superb place to bring up children

Deborah’s own children represent a uniquely South African family unit. “They are not afraid of the dark (thanks to Eskom), and they are not afraid to tell it like it is,” she said. “South African children are confident and brave and know the difference between right and wrong,” she said.

9.     There is an ability in this country for people to think laterally

Patta uses the example of Nelson Mandela’s attempt to unite a country through rugby. Initially booed for his idea by the ANC, Mr Mandela walked onto the grounds of Loftus Stadium five years later for the Rugby World Cup Final. “When we believe, there is nothing finer,” she said.

10.    South Africa gave the world its greatest icon, Nelson Mandela

Patta recounted a story of Nelson Mandela’s walk across his neighbourhood to meet and greet his neighbours with a home-made chocolate cake. “That’s why I’m so proud to be South African,” Patta said.

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