2 Weeks, 4 Cities, 4 Provinces – 4000km
What I learned from my 2 weeks, 4 provinces, 4 cities (excluding the ones traveled through) and 4000km traveled can be summoned up in a few general clichés.
- The grass always looks greener on the other side.
- There’s no place like home
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
- Change is as good as a holiday
While spending the past 2 weeks on the road across the KZN, Gauteng, Eastern and Western Cape; I have learned a lot about myself and my city. I have come to respect and love what we have down here in Port Elizabeth. Yet, I have sadly also come to realize why so many of our top talent leave the province only to return for funerals and family gatherings.
Born and bred in Port Elizabeth, despite having lived in both the Western Cape and Gauteng respectively for a good 6 years, I still regard the Eastern Cape as the best province in South Africa. However, the Eastern Cape somewhat represents the Africa mentality, much to what Chika Onyeani laments about in his book Capitalist Nigger. We have all the potential, natural resources, and skills available to us, yet we do not capitalize on it but rather allow it to be exploited and exported to other parts of the country. Take our stadium, for instance, the beautiful pride of the bay. Yet nothing but a mere ornament left to be displayed when the guests arrive. Much like my grandmothers’ favourite tea set which only came out when the Lady’s Prayer meeting came to visit.
Despite the fact that we in the Eastern Cape are not nearly as proactive, vibrant and alive as the big 3 provinces. I am rather grateful for a number of things. As much as I love the vibrancy and buzz that Durban and Johannesburg offers, Port Elizabeth has that warm acceptance vibe that gives you the peace of mind to just take your shoes off and walk around barefoot while grabbing something from the fridge. That Home sweet Home vibe is definitely present.
Down in PE, we believe that we have the best stadium in the country, yet up in Durban, the Durbanites feel they are the proud holders of that title. Though I will not cast my vote in this particular campaign, I will state that the title for most proactive use of their stadium unanimously goes to Durban for their efficient and creative way of marketing their Moses Mabhida stadium. Skycar, Stadium Tours, Restaurants, Live Entertainment, Gym and fun activities are but a few ways they have gone about establishing their iconic stadium as a center of attraction. While down here in PE, we will be waiting for the next world cup or springbok game to get us through the gates.
Having spent 3 nights in the Radisson Blu in Sandton, Johannesburg; their service was rather outshined by that of a waiter we came across at a restaurant in Durban. The level of service and excellence displayed by this chap far outperformed and outclassed that of the highly experienced and well-trained staff of such an esteemed establishment. A lesson I learned from this is that excellent customer service cannot be trained or demanded, but needs to be understood.
Although my beloved Port Elizabeth and Eastern Cape still have a very long way to go when it comes to service delivery, quality of life and innovation. We do have a lot of positive value adds that few other provinces in South Africa and cities in the world can boast. Our challenge is simply that of optimally utilizing the resources and offerings to improve our province, our cities, and our fortunes.