Eustace Mashimbye is chief executive of Proudly South African. Image: Supplied.
JOHANNESBURG – I don’t know if “you people” have seen the latest Nando’s ad which pokes fun at racial stereotyping, from sing song coloured accents to black mispronunciation, from white dog lovers and kugels to spicy Indians and of course it couldn’t leave out us Africans who love our chicken so much.
We love to point fingers in South Africa, whether in jest or in anger. What we need to consider, however, is how many fingers are pointing right back at us, and how much we are guilty of exactly the same behaviour as that which we are so quick to criticise.
The case of the performance of Banyana Banyana in the Afcon tournament versus the less than stellar recent form of our men’s national soccer team is a case in point. We have been vocal on social media about the lack of support the women’s team gets, both financial and from fans. But when did you last watch a women’s soccer match? Don’t complain if you’re not prepared to lead by example.
We have expressed our consumer rage at one of our own designers being copied by an international retailer, but who amongst you has an original item by Maxhosa? We criticised the price of beautiful, locally designed and manufactured kitchen appliances by Ziyanda, but queued up for hours on Black Friday to buy expensive imported TVs and other household items.
We shell out thousands of rands to buy cell phones and if Apple brought out a sleek, fancy kettle you can be sure there would be plenty of South Africans ready to buy one.
Civil society including the Fair Play movement led the charge against the immoral dumping in South Africa of chicken pieces by the US and EU, and we shared their anger that our trade agreements allow for it to happen.
We pointed our fingers at the chicken importers and our own government, but do you ensure that you always buy locally produced chicken and not bags whose provenance could be any one of nine countries over 3 continents (Fair Play made their point by purchasing a bag of chicken pieces in one of our major retailers whose label stated “Product of Netherlands and/or Germany and/or Argentina and/or Brazil and/or UK and/or France and/or Spain and/or Canada and/or US.’)
Similarly, we love to bash cheap Chinese imports, but frequent any one of the China Malls around the country when it suits us. There’s that finger again, but are you walking your talk or practising what you preach?
Integrity is something we value highly at Proudly South African. We ensure the quality of our members’ products, endorsing only the best of South Africa. We support our members in our own daily lives and at work. We serve visitors to our Rosebank offices tea and coffee in locally manufactured crockery by members Continental China (don’t be deceived by the name!) and bottled water from Azure, another member.
We are asking consumers to have the courage of their own convictions and to change their behaviour to match them. Be against cheap imports by checking labels of origin and buying items Made in South Africa; take a stand against predatory dumping of food products by checking labels and buying produce Made in South Africa; stop being hypocritical about high priced local quality goods when you’re prepared to pay more for an imported equivalent.
This weekend’s Global Citizen concert again affirmed for me how local is indeed lekker – our local acts, especially Cassper Nyovest and Sho Madjozi lit up the stadium and Cassper was rocking a local Tshepo The Jeanmaker outfit. And by the way, Oprah made a massive statement by wearing a Gert Johan Coetzee gown in support of local designers.
So, stop pointing fingers at others if they have any reason to point right back at you and what more perfect song for this week than The Parlotones’ Pointing Fingers. There is no “you people” in South Africa – only “us people” and by acting ethically together and supporting everything local, whether it’s men’s or women’s sport, black, white, Indian or coloured owned business, as long as it’s proudly South African, we’re happy with that.
Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly South African.