It's 4 hours before I am heading off to the Twitter Blanket Drive at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosebank. It's been one of those emotional days that people battle to understand about me. Yes, I cry for almost anything! The tears vary from excitement to fear ... but there is undoubtedly one shed often.
While chatting to Melanie Minnaar, who is the founder of the drive, I had already had a lump in my throat. Well, there was a build up to that.
It all started when we collected an international guest from the Gautrain station in Sandton and I realised just how far we have come as an country that welcomes tourists here. I don't go to Sandton much and I'm horrified to say that I didn't even know where the Gautrain station was. With each phone call people were telling me that it was pretty hard to miss and only when I turned the corner and saw this gorgeous building that any South African would be proud of, did I understand what everyone meant!
Fetching an American and hearing 'Safari' roll of their tongue from the moment they begin talking really isn't that unusual. It's the other part of the conversation that made me so proud to be a girl from Africa! She had such beautiful things to say about every part of Africa that she had visited. No part of this special tourist had missed any of the beauty through fears of traveling to Africa. How refreshing. She also told me how expensive it is to travel here and how willing tourists are to pay. Once again, they all come for the safari.
This was the last leg of M's trip before she met up with her folks on the other side of the world. She was supposed to say in a youth hostel overnight but that is certainly not South African hospitality. Instead, she stayed with my mom and I and got to share a special South African treat with her.
Along the way of my 'project me' journey I have met people with such acceptance and willingness to share their 'project me' stories with me. Some of them have been interviewed but I haven't had the?privilege of meeting them personally. There the is the opposite in the case of Emmanuel Castis who started as a South African celeb with a story to tell and has blossomed into a friend.
Friends have many things to share with each other and last night was his turn to share his singing talents. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce M to some cool South African peeps, take her to an amazing SA restaurant and have her be entertained by a gorgeous singer. I had never heard Emmanuel sing live until last night and I can honestly say that I had to sneak a tear or two in. I was bought up with music being a very important part of 0ur lives and memories and last night there were far too many of them.
I know it's difficult to find the things that strike up memories, but there was a huge meat slicer right by our table and I couldn't help but miss my dad terribly. We grew up having a butcher as a dad. Not one who owned a butchery, but one who was MD of one of the biggest meat companies in SA ... Bull Brand! Most of the time I was grossed out as a child, but now I appreciate a meat slicer. It did freak him out that I don't appreciate a good rump or sirloin though. Sorry daddy!
My dad taught us to be proudly South African and it would take far more than one blog post to tell you all the reasons why, but one of the greatest reasons he shared with us is the humility of the nation. Only when M asked where the paparazi was and couldn't believe that a famous person was mingling with the tables, did I realise just how humble we are.
After hours of chatting we started talking about what I do and it seem that around the world, blogging is ?beginning to become a recognised career. Of course, she told me stories of friends of hers who had made a fortune from blogging and I did feel a little 3rd world. On the other hand, when I told her about today and the Twitter Blanket Drive, I felt like the proudest person of this great nation.
I am in awe of us right now. Twitterers across South Africa getting ready to hit venues around the country and bring blankets for the needy. On the other hand, I'm equally proud of Greggie who will be singing at a CANSA function and holding the flag for Lifeology there. Most of all, I am proud that the voice of social networking is shouting something so positive today!
Many times I find myself riddled with?frustration?at how far behind South Africa is in the social networking arena. I have wanted to bash my head against the wall when I see how we don't use the power of this great tool to our advantage ... and then I am silenced by the unbelievable dedication of one woman and her team across SA. Melanie Minnaar has become my friend and that would never have happened had Twitter not bought us together. It was an honour to tell M all about today and I could see her wonderment at what we do for each other as a nation. Good God it was incredible!!!
Tomorrow I get on a plane and fly to Cape Town for 9 days! Greggie and I have meetings and I have a novel to finish. The SA kindness flows through so much of this trip and I always smile when I say: 'It began with a Tweet'. Thank you to 6 on thirteen for opening up your Cape Town home to us so that we can make something special happen for our business and ourselves.
I could go on for hours about the reason why I'm bursting as a proud South African today, but instead, I'm going to put on my lipstick and head out the Twitter Blanket Drive to be amidst the greatness once again.
To Emmanuel for blowing away a woman who lives amidst Hollywood starts! To Melanie for blowing away that same woman who comes from a county who boasts about giving a fortune! To South Africa for blowing away that woman with our smiles, greeting of strangers and love for our land that seems to be worn on our sleeves ... I thank you for making this 'project me' day such an incredibly moving one!