Sunday 9 July 2023

First impressions

Last week I landed into OR Tambo airport to begin a four year posting as a diplomat representing the British Government in South Africa. Quite apart from the fact that I still can't quite believe I have the privilege of representing the UK, coming from a background where that idea would have seemed ridiculous, I feel most privileged at having been asked to come back to one of the most beautiful, fascinating and inspiring countries in the world. 

And what prompted this post was watching the Springboks dominate Australia in what was a very one-sided Southern hemisphere rugby international, but what was also a very powerful collective expression of national identity. All traditions across this diverse nation seemed to be represented somehow, and all came together in a rendition of the anthem at the start, and celebrations throughout. 

We overlook the role of sport at times, but this was a striking reminder of how important it can be. The London2012 Olympics having been a pivotal social and cultural moment for the UK, for example. And for those who love watching, or taking part in sport I can't think of a better place to be than here in South Africa.