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Sucking the life out of SA

This post was written by Peter Curruthers and was originally featured on

As I write this, sitting at “my” table at Cafe Latte-Tude in the Gateway centre in Umhlanga Rocks, I am filled with a deep sadness that I cannot live here right now.

As my partner gently pointed out a few weeks ago, I left Durban to pursue fast Internet in the UK, and ended up in Norway with Internet even slower than I left behind, and more costly. That is a story for next time.

Today, sitting in this balmy heaven, I want to share a thought or two about where I should be living.

There is nowhere else in the Milky Way that I know of where people smile as much, or as often. And nowhere else where people are so eager to talk to you. And few places have so fine a climate. And I have yet to find a place where you can eat 8 plates of fine sushi for the price of a single salmon rose in Norway. Or where a plate of Norwegian salmon can be had for less than the price of that same salmon on the banks of the river where it was born.

I know that SARS now has access to all your bank account details in any bank or credit card in SA, which I think we can all agree is a bad thing. But we forget that such access has been the norm in much of the rest of the world for a long time. (At least in those countries we dream of going to each time we read of the government and their infamous 5 billion.)

We forget that European governments continue to throw trillions of taxpayer Rands at banks. Bankers are even less deserving than civil servants or politicians, in my humble opinion. (Euros, actually, but with each Euro equal to about R12, your R5 billion is a paltry €400 million or so, and they are dumping hundreds of billions of these Euros.)

We forget their 48% tax rates and 25% VAT rates. We forget extreme winters. We forget how tough it is to fit into a new culture where we know almost nothing about the norms of business.

So, if I compare life in SA right now, it is a lot better than it has ever been. And that might change for the worse, but it won’t be the fault of the government. At least not all of it. The world economy is stumbling, and so are many countries around the world, all of whom have governments that have done a much worse job than this crowd.

Where we choose to live is a compromise we make based on where we are in life at any time. Without knowing what life is like elsewhere I fear we are far too quick to dismiss the superb lifestyle we have in SA.

But, that is not the point I really wanted to share.

I have spent my life worrying about the future, reading all the signs (including chicken bones) to assess the best path to follow. In doing this I have wasted almost all my life projecting those small signs into future doom.

I should have taken more time out with my children, feet hanging in the water, and leaving my future to them. For now, I think the best course is to suck the life out of each day, no matter where I am. There is so much more life to suck in SA than is anywhere else.

So, if you find your energy level flagging a little this week, that will be me sucking it all up for when I need to sit on an ice floe with my feet in the water. (All will be back to normal next week.)