South Africans have lost their smiles. I see it daily on my commute between Johannesburg and Pretoria. The other motorists stuck in traffic on the N1 are a bunch of sour, grumpy people who stare into the overcrowded horizon and just push on with their sad lives.
Exactly as I do.
Make no mistake, I see smiles, and a lot of them. But they are from my local cricket-loving Bangladeshi shopkeepers or my Algerian barber. Or the well-spoken Zimbabwean petrol attendant at the garage where I have to fill up with overpriced diesel.
But my fellow South Africans? Less so.
We have nothing to fear from a zombie apocalypse. It is here already and we are the moaning zombies who roam the land.
We are the victims of the prosperity trap where we have to work harder and harder to pay for stuff which we don’t need. Such as more expensive cars, bigger houses, better schools …
We proudly think of ourselves as the lords and masters of our world, the people who have domesticated animals and built cities.
Sorry, dear reader. We didn’t domesticate animals. They domesticated us and hoarded us together in cities where we have to run the daily rat race while we are forgetting the important things in life.
Such as smiling every so often.
Scientists tell us our universe is made up of molecules and atoms and other little things. It’s nonsense. My world – and the worlds of most of the other people who I encounter on the N1 each day – have bond repayments and car finance and nursery school fees and levy statements and home pregnancy tests as its basic building blocks.
Which makes it difficult to smile.
“Don’t forget to smile today,” I told the lovely Snapdragon when I prepared for my battle with the highway this morning.
“Go and stand in front of the mirror and repeat your words to yourself,” she said. “You don’t smile too often lately.”
“I do. I even crack a joke from time to time,” I defended myself.
Dear reader, even if the lovely Snapdragon ignores my suggestion, remember your smile this weekend. South Africa needs it.