you probably all know my point of view… but nevertheless an interesting read…. especially all the comments afterwards…..

Pieter Dirkby Pieter-Dirk Uys

My South Africa officially houses 50 million people of all colours, creeds, religions and genders. If we include the unofficial refugee population from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Somalia it might be closer to 65 million for all we know.

My South Africa today has a thousand shades of black and the rainbow needs urgent re-inventing.

My South Africa is blessed with the gifts of communication. We have eleven official languages. No one can ever say they didn’t know what was going on. Someone will eventually say it in their language.

My South Africa has not changed its name with the birth of its democracy, but many of our roads, streets and towns need to reinvent their addresses. How long can we drive down Hendrik Verwoerd Boulevard, John Vorster Avenue or PW Botha Street without throwing up?

My South Africa is not Holland where they think they understand Afrikaans and don’t want to be reminded that Verwoerd, the Architect of Apartheid, was Dutch and not Afrikaans.

My South Africa is not the United Kingdom, because happily many of our racist youth have left our rainbow shores to create their own a De la Rey-style Blankostan Homeland in the London suburb of Richmond.

My South Africa is not Europe no matter how hard some of us try. Black people were once referred to as ‘Non-Europeans’, which ironically meant that many Australians and Californians used the toilets meant for blacks.

My South Africa is not Australia, even though so many South Africans emigrated to that far-off colony that the average IQ of both our countries went up.

My South Africa is not Russia, although most of our ANC Politburo scraped through Moscow University or Leningrad College, and hide their Stalinist bent under frothy liberal chit-chat and gesture politics.

My South Africa is not China, but there’s a new China shop opening every week on the main streets of our country towns, giving truth to the old rumour that by the end of Robert Mugabe’s 100-year reign, the Chinese will rule the world.

My South Africa is not the USA. Once the Americas inspired us with their Indian Reservation System, on which we then based our apartheid Black Homeland policies. We’ve moved on. They still have them. And now we Afrikaners can proudly claim to be an inspiration for the current American President. We once locked up our political prisoners on Robben Island without trial. Today, Barack Hussein Obama does the same thing on Cuba.

My South Africa is not Cuba, although we also have a Communist Party with plans for the future, and are waiting to give the Castros political asylum in Pretoria if Obama decides to extend Guantanamo Bay.

My South Africa is not Israel where they have built an 8m high concrete wall of separation to keep their enemies out, while we created a democracy to try and keep everyone in. But thanks Tel Aviv for the nuclear bombs, our apartheid regime needed to show some muscle against an unfriendly democratic world.

My South Africa is not blood-drenched Iraq, which has now imported all our ex-South African police to do security service. We probably have the biggest unofficial army there! You can ask for a ‘lekker dop’ and get it.

My South Africa is not Afghanistan, even though we have as many SUVs clogging our roads, not driven by tough soldiers clutching loaded machine guns, but by tipsy politicians, the nouveau noir and anorexic mothers with cellphones pressed to their ears.

My South Africa is not Zimbabwe. Yet.

My South Africa has the greatest Constitution in the world. We have a Bill of Rights. We had an unbelievable Truth Commission. We are inspired by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. And who do the rest of world have? The Kardashians.

My South Africa had the greatest incidence of HIV/Aids in the world. We lost one thousand people a day thanks to a government that did nothing for ten years. Now our Number One leads by example from the shower.

My South Africa is exciting, frightening, hot, cold, dry, wet, hilly, flat, crowded, empty, arrogant, friendly, dangerous, gentle, non-racial, racist, wealthy, poor, healthy, sick, hopeful, corrupt, unbearable and addictive.

My South Africa has not forgotten the past while looking forward to the future.

My South Africa is where no democrat has been before. It is the blueprint for hope where everything once looked hopeless. It is building a future in the faded footprint of despair.

My South Africa is a nineteen-year old teenager on the edge of adulthood with all the confusions, expectations, demands, fears and fantasies that entails.

My South Africa is my home.

Read The Optimist’s response to Pieter’s column here

Read more by Pieter-Dirk Uys:

Citizens of a democracy always deserve what they get

All that freedom – where’s the speech?


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About the author

Pieter-Dirk Uys is a South African satirist, active as a performer, author, and social activist.

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  1. Norman Klein

    Beautifully written, as one would expect from a literary genius. You made me verklempt!

  2. John Thomson

    I adore Pieter-Dirk Uys. He has an incredible wit, a wonderful turn of phrase and South Africa will always be my home.

  3. gina

    South Africa is not Israel because South Africa doesn’t have people trying to set off bombs everywhere killing innocent civilians…hence the wall. It is to protect innocent civilians living in a democratic world agains those who do not live in such riches. I am from South Africa and live in Israel you are very wrong in this statement!

    • Michael

      @Gina, don’t be so quick to take offence. The statement made was that Isreal has a wall to keep it’s enemies out: as far as I can tell, even from your statement, is that is true.
      Let me state that I am pro-israel, in the sense that the Middle East is a mess and that Israel for the most part looks out for it’s people, and is doing well in a tumultuous and horribly unstable region.
      I don’t want to start an argument about Israel, as it seems you are so eager to do.
      See this article as it was written without jumping at every percieved offense: South Africa is ours, and we are proud of it despite the mess and uncertainty – but we are not the rest of the above countries.
      South Africa’s problems need South African solutions.

      • Colin

        Are you really proud of SA are you really proud of the constant corruption, of the 10s of 1000s of farm murders, of the soaring crime rate, of the worship of a dying terrorist. South Africa had solutions they have all been thrown away because they get in the way of the personal objectives of those in power.

        • Vusumuzi O. Sibanda

          It is ever so intriguing that those who used to perpetrate endemic nepotism and oppression see the current status quo as corruption! Asijiki!!!! Forward ever, backwards never!!!!

          • Nev

            I think the simple answer here is overseas companies are happy to have our skills regardless of our skin color, we are well paid, safe and our kids have a future, we wont find that in south africa, this is the simple reason why people leave

          • Lexx

            You are assuming that Colin was around in the 70′s and 80′s right? And that he was actually responsible for the “endemic nepotism”? Maybe he’s only 21 as has grown up in a free country. Or do you just assume that all white people are corrupt and that he one of “those” people? Im one of “those people as well”. Does that make me part of the problem of the past? Stop and think for a second before you rattle off racist comments like that.

    • Colin

      Hi Gina

      Very well said, Very, very well said! The author has done his best to criticise the world and praise the “new” South Africa. He is OH so very wrong in many of his statements this article smacks of a desperate attempt to stay popular by a fast receding personality.

      • Vusumuzi O. Sibanda

        I for one think the author has hit nail fairly and square. The only problem is the sophistication of his style evidenced by the vehemence of dissenting and rather myopic views.

    • Jordi

      Antisemetic south African groups bannered with extremist anti Israel organizations (such as the Palestinian solidarity committee at the once illustrious wits university in jhb) accused Israel of erecting an ”apartheid” wall. Pretty clever if u want zulus and xhosa speaking south Africans to side with your cause right off the bat and view Israel with unjust hatred. But Israel has a right to defend itself and since we erected that wall martyrs coming across the borders blowing themselves up (to go to some nonsense land of virgins) dropped some 95%. Dirkie Uys I didn’t enjoy your article. I think you poked at too many countries. What nuclear bombs did tel aviv give to SA exactly?

      • Jordi

        P.s. I love south Africa and always will as it is my home.
        P.p.s. Desmond Tutu has stated outright his anti Israeli policies… his achievements mean jutt to me

      • Cheryl

        Please dont confuse non-support of Israel’s policies with anti-semitism. Not every Jew thinks like you. I, for one, don’t. By the way, I love this article

        • Moshe

          He doesn’t confuse it.
          what You don’t understand, Cheryl, is that neither does the palestinians.
          Same Palis that state, openly, in their chosen Gaza government, swore to anahilate not only Israel, but all Jews.

          The palestinian “moderate” leader, has vowed before its people not a single JEW (not Israeli, since there are arab Israelies), not a single JEW will live in the future Palestinian state.
          Nor will they let the UN have JEWISH soldiers of other nations.

          Please don’t confuse your non support of Israel with the Muslim hatred of jews and Israel in particular.

    • Martin

      I lived there too and many other countries, out of all of them the arrogance of Israelis is unrivaled. Occupiers in a country given to them out of gilt, I support Palestine after living in Israel for 2 years, but good luck there oppressing your neighbors and killing innocent people, how far do you push people before they blow themselves up to make a statement

    • Charlie

      Hi Gina. Israel lives by a racist, discriminatory and inhumane set of laws. It has to do so to cement it’s place, even though it has no legitimate right to exist. If you believe that genocide qualifies you to take over a massive piece of a random country then lets give the Congolese people New York after King Leopold’s genocide which killed over 10 million Congolese. Israel is racist and Zionism is just racist imperialism.

  4. John

    Absolutely Brilliant!!!!

    I no longer regard it as “my South Africa” as I am now British but for sure you need PDU’s sense of humour and optimism to live there.

    • James


      Your comment is suprfluous and unnecessary. PDU addressed those of your ilk perfectly in his piece, and your comment bears his point out. So well done on being a stereotype.

  5. Brett

    Contrary to the perception that everyone who leaves SA for foreign lands is racist, the sad reality is that when you have just been made redundant / retrenched and your job prospects in SA are bleaker than Julius Malema saying anything intelligent, if you are to earn a living all you have left is to seek opportunities in foreign lands…

  6. Sean Haywood

    Lovely article Mr Uys, I would just add that South African culture is still deep in the heart of most expat South Africans, regardless of where in the world we find ourselves. We are a diaspora that still have rich memories of bush-veld fires (with Old Brown Sherry as companion), jackals yapping in the night, the stormy Cape Atlantic, long sandy beaches and most importantly that diverse and rich tapestry of cultures. We have left her shores for different reasons but Africa remains embedded in us!

  7. Lolly

    True, all true

  8. Blaine

    My South Africa is not the United Kingdom, because happily many of our racist youth have left our rainbow shores to create their own a De la Rey-style Blankostan Homeland in the London suburb of Richmond…..
    Pieter-Doosh Uys, perhaps!

  9. SaffagirlinLondon

    Wonderfully written! I live in London, and am not here because of the crime in SA or because I am a racist. I am here to broaden my horizons, spread my wings, travel (it is cheaper) and to get international work experience. Not everyone who leaves SA does it because they hate the country but further themselves or even just to get a job. I can’t wait to go home when the time is right for me and live in my beautiful country again.

  10. N Sander

    ha ha ha ha Pieter….like marriage if you can live with 70% of what is said and are pissed off by the other 30% then you have a good marriage. I’ll always be a SAFFA albeit one living abroad in the UK. However I consult in Nigeria and here they appreciate my talents and pay accordingly…..would much rather do it at home….but ja one does what one must do. I was even offended at the Delville wood war memorial by the current regime’s arrogance and shortsightedness…..but that is a whole other story.

  11. Johan

    This is as close to the ramblings of a retard as I have ever read. How much did Zuma pay for this crap?

  12. Lynn

    Very well written!! I,have been living in London for 7 years…I came here to find work because if u r white and over 50 in SA u will not find work!! there is no country on earth which doesn’t have problems! I visit SA every year and plan to return within 2 yrs for

  13. Johan

    Dining with the President, and Loyiso, well done! I watch LNN religiously. Not Zimbabwe, yet. Brilliant! When is the next flight out?

  14. Colin

    Your South Africa is in chaos you have no leadership, no inspiration except from those who will only benefit themselves, no direction and no skills to dig your way out. Most of the things you stressed as good points are the very reasons why your South Africa is falling into a pit of despair into the very depth of hell.
    You have written an article criticising most nations of the world comparing the rot in South Africa to the world will never make the rot seem like progress. If South Africa was able to learn, in its current form, it would but it cannot, perhaps history is destined to repeat itself. Do you really think the South African constitution is the greatest in the world, a constitution the guarantees black progress over everyone else, that distinguishes the races just as the previous state did, a South Africa that kills tens of thousands of its very own farmers with a constitution unable to protect and punish the killers.

    You live in a dream world, you need to open your eyes and see the truth that surrounds you. Most good hard working honest South Africans of all colours, creeds, religions and both genders are under attack from the very people who were elected to run the country.

    • Vusumuzi O. Sibanda

      Maybe if you had stayed here, we wouldn’t be as bankrupt as you convey in what can only be myopic and nostalgic conjecture. But then, what can be expected from one who is spineless except shifty crawling and slithering on one’s belly?

    • Martin

      Interesting how the priveleged have this hatred in their comments, this country is what it is for many reasons, start with the centuries of killing, raping and taking land and now calling it yours. The inequality in this country was created by exactly those who hate the new SA, angry in their suburban houses with 2 cars and kids going to private school, get off your high horse and realise that YOU created much of what the challenges are today and until you do not accept that and start to try and make your centuries of oppression right you maybe should consider the space in grey and depressing England or boring but oh so safe Australia for you! I love SA with all its troubles and rather look at building it then standing around a braai with a brandy and coke and complain, what do you do to show things can be different?

  15. George Galbraith

    A clever article PDU, but one in which you show bias in some respects. Far from being a democratic administration that regards its diverse human elements as equal, whilst creating the opportunities and methodology for the previously disadvantaged to be brought to balance in an inclusive, homogenous way, SA chooses to reverse the apartheid model and use it as a blunt instrument instead. This has directly caused an exodus of young South Africans in particular, who find their right to engage in work and a livelihood in their country of birth thwarted on the basis of their race.
    In the face of this lamentable fact, I find it trite that a fellow countryman chooses to criticize these folk who then exercise the only life option open to them. I love my country, but i owe it to it and its current governors to stand up when needed

  16. Alan

    Although a thought provoking read, I am trying to understand who PDU is trying to convince here.
    This is what I think. I miss South Africa, the land. I miss South Africa, the weather. I miss South Africa, my friends and family. I do not miss the South Africa where every week I hear of another friend that has been shot/attacked/robbed/hijacked/killed by an unlicensed driver in an unroadworthy car. I do not miss the South Africa where 4mth old children are raped. I do not miss the South Africa where poverty is out of control. I do not miss the South Africa where you are a victim of affirmative action.
    I love being in the UK where there is equal opportunity. I love being in the UK where I can go for a cycle on single lane country roads, day or not, without being in fear of being pushed off by an overcrowded minibus taxi. I love the UK where I can walk down the street at night and not fear for my life. I love the UK where I can see young girls walking home, alone, at night without the fear of being raped. I love the UK where I don’t need to live behind 6ft walls, burglar guards, burglar alarms, and security gates. I love the UK because it is clean and beautiful, and the community respect their surroundings. I love living in the UK where I haven’t experienced a power outage in 5yrs, and then it was for about 10min. I love living in an area of the UK where the weather is fantastic. I love living in the UK where I can go to a park, and the trees have not been chopped down for firewood.
    I am a South African. I eat South African food. I listen to South African radio online. I read South African news online. I support South African sports teams. My social circle consists of South Africans. I will always be a proud South African, the difference is, I choose not to have to live in country in fear of my life, but in a country where I can enjoy my life…..but I will always be a South African.

    • Georgina

      I am astonished at the attitude of South Africans living in South Africa about South Africans living abroad. Alan, yours is the only comment I have read that resonates with me. It was just a matter of time before we became a statistic and I was determined to leave before that happened. That was 6 years ago and we are extremely happy in New Zealand. I feel I am a better person, with better attitudes since living here, away from being constantly tainted by all the bad stuff. Also my son is at Uni here, under his own steam. He has no real future in SA, I would not have been able to afford Uni for him. Here he has so many advantages instead of disadvantages. Yes, I miss my family, friends and a life time of memories, but I don’t regret doing it. Each person has to make their own decisions in life and I do not consider myself a traitor. Frankly I’m shocked at the attitudes presented in these comments, although I suppose I shouldn’t be. Judging and unhelpful toward any sort of reconciliation. Very sad. It will take longer to change with pervasive attitudes like that.

  17. Robbie

    Shame Colin, it’s very clear from your bitterness that you have found yourself living in a country that no longer embraces you or your racist dogma – that’s what living in the past will do. You’ve probably lost your job and don’t have the aptitude (or attitude) to do anything other than sit around criticizing and getting more buckled and twisted by the day. Shame.

  18. Danny

    It’s also your South Africa where a farm owner gets shot to death because he doesn’t allow some gangster access to his land to open a shebeen, and another farmer kills himself because the blood hungry media twist the truth about a worker BORN with epilepsy and the real reason he lost his hands and burnt soo badly was actually due to cable theft.
    Wake up and smell the coffee, the APARTHEID tractor is still working this land…. It’s just a different money grabbing BAAS Driving it through all the rainbow fields.
    Those who have left our shores, left for TRUE EQUAL opportunities…. Not based on colour but on skill.
    Ineptocracy. a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.
    Viva Africa, viva Zimbabwe , viva south africa…..

  19. mary

    Shame for the people with NO sense of humour. they need to lighten up.

  20. Ester

    Accord! Been abroad for a brief visit and kissed the ground on my return. My South Africa has a Pieter/Evita that you won’t find in the US, UK, EU, OZ or China Mall. My South Africa still has real meat, real animals, real properties (we don’t all have to live on a postage stamp!)real unspoilt nature, and real corruption that keeps the business people in the rich and the polititions shiny! Gota love this place!

  21. Kalahari Doringboom

    The Chinese built a wall to keep the aggressors at bay. So did Emperor Hadrian to keep the savage Scots at each other’s throats. Our friends, the Russians had their wall broken down by ordinary people when their empire crumbled. At least there is some justice in the world. I guess we do our job taking down one brick at a time.

  22. Elliott

    Ya well no fine. Mr Uys is clearly deluded.
    My South Africa no longer exists. My South Africa was generally a safe place to live, My South Africa had jobs, My South Africa wasn’t run by a bunch of self serving, corupt baboons, in My South Africa we could go out at night as teenagers without fear of being mugged or murdered. I miss My South Africa.

    South Africa may be a 19 year old teenager, but all the time the ANC is in in power with it’s corrupt officials and idiots like Malema, it will never grow up.

    However, I’m sure it will be like Zimbabwe very soon.

    • Vusumuzi O. Sibanda

      Are you quite sure that what you miss is not your nostalgic youthfulness or youthful nostalgia? Life is a continuously evolving phenomena. It don’t wait on nor for any mortal. So, catch up with reality and make the best of it all. Aaaaaargh before I go, can I naively assume you were not being racist in calling South Africans baboons?

      • Graham Johnson

        My South Africa had roads, railways, hospitals, universities, water sewage and electricity reticulation, harbours, schools, libraries, telephones all installed by the Nationalist Party. What has the ANC added beyond unemployment, wrecked education, cronyism, incompetence and corruption?

  23. Brent

    A little bit dramatic to run down every country in the world to get your point across, and then to assume that people who move to other countries are all racist. Knob

  24. neville

    Love the humour…can’t get enough of it…I miss it so…however,
    The bottom line, you keep SA.. and I will embrace my new country. ..I will ensure my kids have a future filled with opportunity in this land we who’s IQ just went up due to our arrival. You live with your decision to stay, and I will happily live with mine to leave. ..simple:)

  25. John

    The average IQ went up in both countries after the SA whities went to Australia!!

    Sharp, Sharp, Sharp
    PDU and Leon Schuster for President and Vice President

  26. John

    Graham, The ANC has added a lot …see below

    A singer, a dancer, a herd boy, a philanderer, a pathological liar, the village idiot, a polygamist, a chauvinist, a communist,
    a rapist, a racist, a tribalist, a semi-literate and a black guy walk into a pub in Durban.

    And the barman says…………..

    “What’ll it be, Mr.President?”

    • André

      If you’re lost I can happily give you directions to News24. I’m sure your comments will be much more appreciated there. tah

  27. Musa Mchunu

    The truth is always Sour! I am Brown (so called black) and agree with Pink Lads on this.

  28. Warren

    Well said John. I love South Africa have travelled it extensively. I was born and proudly bred a South African. I have now immigrated to a new country too, with my young family, purely out of opportunity reasons and personal safety of my family. If I had the same professional opportunities I enjoy overseas, I would most certainly try and overcome our security issues in South Africa. Whilst I do understand the concept of BEE, I feel it’s implemented incorrectly. Most of my peers who have educated themselves and work hard are seeking similar opportunities abroad. The sad thing is, my child will never grow up as a South African, but he will have equal opportunity in all he does based on his ability and aptitude alone.

  29. Bill Hollenbach

    Your 19 year old teenager, belongs in jail and the 50 million + people are mostly people we dont want here, that the ANC let in.
    Sorry, but MY SOUTH AFRICA died when Nelson Mandela retired and the criminals took over.

  30. Hex

    I have accepted that crime and killers and rapists are part our beautiful landscape, my home South Africa.

    That reality is a bitter and a scary pill to swallow.

    The nature of the beast is lack of education and racial anger.

    I deal with this reality, I wish everyone in the world was well informed and civil and humane, but so many are not.

    Lament not only the state of our beloved Africa, but also the world.

  31. BringingValueToSAFromAbroad

    Hmmm … a very emotional-triggering piece of literature. In the vain it was written in I would call it typical of a small-minded South African way of thinking to nurture consolation within. But I could actually resonate with it deeply – and I think that is the comforts of my small-minded South African fibres of my make-up which never let my heart forget how deeply rooted in love it is for the country. The commentary section makes for an extremely interesting read, scattered with many good opinions with which I can also resonate. It’s an highly offensive article taking a stab at something very tender in a way that demonstrates Pieter-Dirk Uys’ naiveté and ignorance of individual circumstance, individuals seizing horizons not otherwise necessarily available to them, and the fact that not all movements are spurred by the rife negativity in the country. At the end he uses the analogy of the country as beautifully complex, tenacious and learning teenager which is actually an analogy I have been using to describe the country for several years now. It’s a teenager we greatly love but everyone has a different degree of friendship with it and that makes for a good diversity. Personally I could never turn my back on it, but I do need to get on with being an adult.

  32. Pete

    As a South African living in europe for the past 5 years what I miss often is the straight forward communication SA’ns are so good at. Thanks guys for the great comments! I enjoyed them more than the article.

  33. Dr Cheryl Morris

    John, so many true words but when I read your words I see pride in our RSA, but you negate it by bashing other countries and other people for the choices they made to leave. Since time began people have been pioneers an have shifted location on the globe – some for reasons resulting from nomadic desires, some who don’t like to be contained, others to return to the country of their birth, and others who followed dreams or ran from danger. Be proud of our country, I am, but do not hammer people who have chosen to leave. It mars the beauty of your your words of praise for our country

  34. Alan Wilson

    Pieter Dirk Uys you have certainly got everyone talking! There is no right answer. Keep on stirring the pot. Debate is good

  35. Rex Harrison

    The place is a cesspit of violence, corruption, murder, ignorance, savagery and disease. Facts. The entire continent is a basket-case. Time to re-colonise Africa.

  36. Jan Joubert

    Speak for yourself Piet !! My SA was n great place but now it is n shit hole

  37. Red

    What a waste of time u delusional moron. Ur about as ignorant as zuma. 19 year old kid? really. 19 year old retard walking off a cliff guided by government 😀 have a few more of those drugs and carry on writing