5 Reasons why South Africa is progressive
South Africa is perhaps one of the most progressive countries we have visited. Surprised? To be honest, we were also rather surprised that it was Africa that was progressive. Even could be. To be honest, that was another bias we had for no valid reason. But we are now completely stepping away from that thought and would like to introduce you to a progressive country in Africa that is more innovative, more efficient and more ecological than, say, Belgium in many areas. You’ll find out why in this article!
Water is an important resource and in South Africa they understood. They are frugal with their water. More than in Belgium (our home)! And since they have one of the biggest water shortages in years, they are even more frugal. Everywhere you go you see banners about how to use water efficiently. You’ll see signs where they explain water consumption and how you can do your part. In public restrooms, soaps have been replaced with antibacterial gel so you don’t have to use water to wash your hands. And the toilets are cleaned and flushed in a special way that requires less water.
South Africans love the sun, and so do we. And because South Africans come into contact with it almost every day, there is unfortunately a greater risk of skin cancer. For this, they have skin specialists at different times on the famous beaches in the summer who analyze your skin. For example, you can get your birthmarks checked for free. All of this is to prevent skin cancer or notice it in an early stage. We hadn’t heard such a fantastic idea before. This is something they should do in more places.
Nowhere else have we seen a country and its people so concerned with the preservation of nature. South Africans have a beautiful landscape and they want to keep it that way. And they do a lot to maintain it. For example, many natural parks are protected and certain trees are not allowed to be cut down. We saw a tree over 500 years old that they protect by putting a fence around it so no one can reach it. The branches of the tree are also not allowed to be pruned, you are not even allowed to pick leaves from them. That’s how much respect they have for flora here.
But the fauna should not be forgotten either. In South Africa, there are several nature parks where the animals are protected from hunting. And often there are animals in these parks that have been rescued from hunting. Certain animals, such as a lion for example, also requires a standard space that must be respected, otherwise you may not legally keep this animal. A country with a heart for animals and nature. So it is progressive.
A major problem in the world and our ecosystem is the use (and abuse) of plastic. In Belgium we are doing all kinds of things to reduce this use, but there is still room for improvement. In South Africa, most restaurants and bars do not use plastic straws and this is not even the usual way to serve drinks. They use alternatives such as straws made from recycled materials, reusable straws made from bamboo or even edible straws. Agreed, just stopping the use of straws won’t solve the problem, but it’s a nice start.
Furthermore, in South Africa they try to give water in glass bottles at restaurant and don’t give a plastic bag by default when you visit stores. The saleswomen explicitly ask if you need one and most customers carry their own reusable bag. What made us sad, were the townships (the poorer neighborhood around Cape Town) where garbage has accumulated over the years and is not eliminated. Of course, climate change is not a priority with the people who have to struggle daily.
If anything is where Belgium thinks it is progressive, it is in social care. Admittedly, in Belgium social security is a luxury that many countries do not have. We can’t complain. But it can be better. In South Africa, they invest huge amounts of money in the social sector. In Belgium, this is more often not a priority for politicians and that is a shame. South Africa requires every large company to hire at least one employee with a disability. This to give people with disabilities a chance and thus also prevent unemployment of disabled people. Furthermore, South Africa also has institutions for persons with disabilities where these persons also receive money to make ends meet. In Belgium, they often don’t get enough to pay for their care. Furthermore, we found South Africans to be tremendously helpful and friendly. Even those living in the harshest conditions did not become embittered.
On the other hand, there is still a lot of difference between rich and poor and the townships are not getting any smaller. So there is still a lot of inequality between citizens in South Africa. And that is pity because it is a country in full evolution with a population that pursues wonderful values and standards.
Did you think South Africa was so progressive? Or were you surprised by these facts? Which country do you think is the most progressive you’ve visited? Be sure to let us know in the comments or on Facebook!