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Beguiled by our New Awesome South Africa

Karen de Villiers, a South African living in London writes for The South African newspaper and runs a business called Londongreenafrica and a website called London/Green/Africa. She met with Di Smith, a co-founder of Awesome SA over the Christmas break and had this to say about Awesome SA and the book Di wrote called You’re Awesome – Living a Fulfilled Life, which has recently been released.

Di Smith co-founded Awesome SA with Derryn Campbell in 2006 in a bid to promote peaceful change in South Africa. The bloom of a new democracy was wilting with renewed suspicion and die hard prejudice creeping in between the cracks. All was not well in the house of prejudiced South Africans. Talking was easy, complaining even more so, and with Awesome SA, Di and Derryn decided to call all South African's toward a new commitment.

By pointing out the positive. Rather than read the bad news or talk about what is lacking than what is gained, they set about re-introducing South Africans to South Africa and each other. Being positive takes courage. How so? Human nature is inclined to fixate on what is wrong rather than what is right, how man is evil rather than good. We are fickle that way - looking for thorns rather than petals. Some of us actually need to be away to truly begin to see how Awesome SA really is.

In 2011, Di published her first book, with the foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. 'You're Awesome' is a collection of stunning photographs taken by Terrence Mtola, who has captured the heart and essence of our unique people and landscape.

It is difficult not to feel uplifted as your eyes fall on the first photograph. And the next, and the next. And then within lies the writing. Words of inspiration, gentle pushing of spirit towards a deeper belief. This is not a tourist brochure of clichés and anecdotes but rather one of an offering of choice. By healing and steadying the ship of self, you will find the peace, the petals so to speak and the joy of being where you were meant to be. It is only when the balance of life, love and experience is on its axis that one can begin to reach and more importantly understand those around you

In truth, I am more of the sceptic nature. I hear words that smack of Advertising jingles and cringe at the thought of another marketing brand being paraded before me. Di has steered very clear of the trumpets. Her motivation and determination to live a complete and nourished life in South Africa has not come without loss and pain, but the depth of her roots in the land and ways are what drives her forward. No guilt fuelled campaign, but rather a follow by example path leads one through this book. The love for South Africa exuding from the pages is a deep and mature one, not a rah rah (blot out the bad things kind of mantra). I fell in love with this book for drawing me in and not telling me off instead. This book is the perfect gift for anyone with a heart and a need to belong.

I think we are all ready to be beguiled by our new Awesome South Africa. She is but a baby in relation to the rest of the world. Like the Tok Tokkie, she needs to be coaxed from the past to come forth to the sun and take her place in the veld; it will require patience. Negativity can turn our resolve to quicksand. Instead, be motivated, be inspired - try a little challenge. Push the boundaries of your education into really understanding how the other half lives. Be colour-blind.

Be counted.

Di Smith thinks you are Awesome. Perhaps you should too. Ubuntu is free.

Follow Di's blog at