From out at sea, it is a beautiful sight.The beach behind Sedgefield is also framed by dramatic eroding sand dunes which tower over its smooth, fine sand.
At the height of summer, as the sun sinks into the Mediterranean, you can barely move on the Positano beach, with rows upon rows of sun loungers and umbrellas right next to each other. And you pay, handsomely in Euros, for the privilege of swopping sweat and suntan lotion with your neighbours.
At the height of summer at Sedgefield, the sun is sometimes enveloped by high wispy clouds, which give the area an ethereal grace. There is no-one – other than one or two walkers and the odd swimmer – to disturb you as you take in the kilometres of deserted sands, best enjoyed barefoot. No sweat, no suntan…and if you come prepared, you can enjoyed a chilled sauvignon blanc from a deck atop the dune as the afternoon fades away.
But the best thing is that the South African beach doesn’t cost you even one, extremely devalued, South African cent.
There are places like that all over our country – as beautiful as anywhere else in the world, but much less crowded and much cheaper, too. SA Tourism’s “Tourism for All” campaign and Tourism Month in September are aimed at getting South Africans travelling in their own country. Local, in this case, is really, really, lekker: affordable, but memorable, holidays for those who stay within our borders – and employment opportunities for those in the tourism business and its suppliers.
So, why don’t more of us travel?
Local holidays have, historically, been more of a “white thing”. Easy to understand, given the inequalities in society and, therefore, the disparities in income. In many areas, too, in the days of Nat Party rule, “non-whites” could simply not experience the beauty of some places, because the best spots were reserved for whites.
After 1994, as black people began to live a better life than their parents, they gradually started to travel. However, many came up against the harsh reality that race is still an issue out there, particularly in the platteland. Many smaller lodges, family resorts and B and Bs have refused to take bookings from black people.
Not many black people have the guts to camp or caravan – a white enclave. Those who have done so, though, have discovered that being in the Great South African Outdoors and sharing food and drink around a braai fire reminds us of what we have in common and gives us the opportunity to start grinding away those old stereotypes and prejudices.
Experiencing the rich tapestry of our country – from its scenery to its peoples and cultures – is what is going to help build that elusive common national identity.
And, trust me on the Sedgefield beach…
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