Zuid-Afrika is misschien wel een van de vooruitstrevendste landen die wij al bezochten. Verbaasd dit je? Wij waren eerlijk gezegd ook eerder verbaasd dat uitgerekend Afrika vooruitstrevend was. Zelfs kon zijn. Dat was eerlijk gezegd weer een vooroordeel dat wij hadden zonder gegronde reden. Maar daar stappen we nu dus volledig van af en we laten je hier graag kennis maken met een vooruitstrevend land in Afrika dat op heel veel vlakken innovatiever, efficiënter en ecologischer is dan pakweg België. Je leest hier waarom!
South Africa progressive
Water is an important raw material and in South Africa they have understood that. They use their water sparingly. Much more economical than with us. And since they’re facing one of the biggest water shortages in years, they’re even more economical with this. Everywhere you go you see placards about how to use water sparingly. You’ll see signs explaining water consumption and how you can do your bit. In public toilets, the 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, so less water is needed.
South Africans love the sun, and so do we. And because South Africans come into contact with it almost daily, it is unfortunately more likely to develop skin cancer. For this, they have skin specialists at various times on the well-known beaches in the summer who analyse your skin. For example, you can have your moles checked for free. All this to prevent skin cancer or to be there quickly. We hadn’t heard such a great idea before. This is something they should do in more places.
Nowhere else have we seen a country and its people so concerned with preserving nature. The South Africans have beautiful scenery and they want to keep it that way. And they do a lot for that, too. For example, many nature 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 placing a fence around it so that no one can reach it. The branches of the tree should not be pruned either, you may not even pick leaves from it. So much respect they have here for flora.
But also the fauna must not be forgotten. In South Africa there are several nature parks where the animals are protected from hunting. And often there are also animals in these parks that have been rescued from hunting. Certain animals, such as a lion, also need a standard space that must be respected, otherwise you may not keep this animal legally. A country with a heart for animal and landscape. So very progressive.
A big problem in the world and our ecosystem is the use (and abuse) of plastic. In Belgium we do all kinds of things to reduce this use, but it can be done a lot better. 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 of recycled material, reusable straws made of bamboo or even edible straws. Agree, just stopping the use of straws won’t solve the problem, but it’s a good start.
Furthermore, in South Africa they try to give water in glass bottles at restaurant and do not give them a plastic bag by default when you visit your shop. The saleswomen explicitly ask if you need one and most customers have their own reusable bag. What made us sad again were the townships (the poorer neighbourhood around Cape Town) where waste has accumulated over the years and is not being disposed of. Of course, climate policy is not a priority for the people who have to fight every day to make ends meet.
If something is where Belgium thinks it is progressive, it is social. Admittedly, in Belgium social security is a luxury that many countries do not have. We certainly can’t complain about that. But it could be better. In South Africa they invest huge sums in the social sector. In Belgium, this is often not a priority for politicians, and that is a pity. South Africa requires every large company to hire at least one employee with a disability. This is to give people with disabilities a chance in the labour market and thus to reduce unemployment of disabled people. Furthermore, South Africa also has institutions for people with disabilities where they also get money to make ends meet. In Belgium, they often do not get enough to pay for their care and to be able to live on them. Furthermore, we found South Africans to be hugely helpful and friendly. Even the people who live in the harshest conditions have not become bitter.
On the other hand, there is still a lot of difference between rich and poor and the townships are not getting smaller on it. So there is still a great deal of inequality between the citizens of South Africa. And that is a great pity because it is a country in full evolution with a population that strives for wonderful values and standards.
Progressive South Africa
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? Let us know for sure in the comments or on Facebook!