A LESSON WE CAN LEARN FROM CHINA: STOP MIMICKING THE FIRST WORLD AND FORGE OUR OWN DESTINY
As a born-free medical doctor who qualified in China, I spent six years there. Upon returning in 2020, I found myself in a country starkly different from the one I once called home, seeing the degeneration of my hometown, Johannesburg.
I had spent time in a nation that built itself from famine and ruin to a competitor in world power politics.
China remains, controversially, an authoritarian state; nevertheless, there are valuable lessons we can learn from her fruition. Isolated from the world and immune to Western critique, the Chinese abandoned the rat race for “First World status” and instead focused on addressing their challenges. This cultivated a generation of creative problem-solvers and patriotic communities working towards a common goal, sympathetic to the deeply rooted Chinese heritage. A nation that was largely rural when I was born in 1994 now stands tall among other world leaders in innovation, economics, technology and cultural influence, to name a few.
Returning to my home, I stepped out of the shoes I wore as an alien in a foreign land. It struck me that, in the melting pot of cultures that comprises South Africa, approaching our shortfalls from a “one-size-fits-all” standpoint and enforcing this view on a multicultural population is a somewhat lazy approach that risks losing talent, energy and expertise.
If we are truly to progress from our separatist past, we need to understand each other, inculcating a deeper appreciation for each cultural thread weaving the distinctive rainbow that is the South African identity.
My proposition: prioritise uplifting our nation and inspiring other nations to adopt our rhetoric instead of mimicking the common narrative of successful “First World” countries. We need to recognise our inherent grit and creativity in reinforcing and celebrating the South African identity.
Let us embrace our unique heritage by fusing our cultural diversity and blending our backgrounds to create an exclusive sustainable model that will leave the global community asking: “But how did they do it?”