‘Betta’ is the colloquial South African way of saying ‘better’. It is also the theme for a new series of blog posts by Gerald Garner of LocalPlaces – JoburgPlaces & IkapaPlaces, inspired by the Springbok Rugby World Cup victory of October 2023 and what it means for South Africa.
We are stronger together, but only if we work to make things ‘betta’. For me, this is the lesson of the 2023 back-to-back rugby world cup winning team. It took one point for the Springboks to win the final. In fact, one point in each of three consecutive games. Yet, it took so much more – an enormous effort, sheer sweat, and unwavering commitment.
The world cup final was devoid of any crescendo. It simply did not build up to a magical winning drop kick or a side-step maneuvered try. Instead, it involved the opponents missing what could have been a match winning penalty kick and then for the Boks to defend at all costs. Tackle after tackle, running the clock down. No further points scored but hanging in to win against the odds.
When the final whistle blew the Boks won by 12 to 11. The resultant screaming of supporter crowds was somewhat hysterical, rather than a thunderous winning war cry. A mixture of relief and disbelief. How did we even win? The Springboks were simply victorious because of their grit, belief, consistency and by never giving up. And therein lies the lesson for South Africa.
Gone are the days of Madiba magic and miracles. Twentynine years after the dawn of democracy, South Africans have learned that their journey is no easy walk to freedom. Instead, it is an ongoing struggle, with moments of sheer exhilaration, but many of disappointment and frustration too.
South Africa today is not the country it hoped to become when it first won the world up in 1995. Instead, the economy remains lackluster, inequality reigns and corruption flourishes, while the youth are uncertain of a future.
Perhaps we needed the Springboks to teach us that success does not come easy. That South Africa is not an exceptional case. That we cannot always rely on miracles and magic. That the Springboks only won because of hard work and sheer commitment to be ‘betta’ in every possible way. Winning was never their only goal. Instead, building an inclusive team, diverse in shapes, ages, races, and backgrounds was as important.
It is easy to forget how Rassie Erasmus was chastised for making Siya Kolisi captain in 2018, with many stating it was just another ‘quota’ decision. Yet, what a visionary decision that was! Today. all South Africans look up to Kolisi with awe and pride. It would be easy to promise Kolisi’s story of rags to riches to everyone. But that would be a lie. Kolisi didn’t succeed simply because of luck. Nor because of a miracle that lifted him out of incredibly difficult childhood circumstances. Yes, he was presented with an opportunity. But he grabbed the opportunity and worked hard, consistently, without fail for many years to achieve success. Just like the Boks sweated and held on against the odds to win on Saturday.
The team spirit and hard work of the Springboks should be an inspiration for all of us. A reminder not to rely on magical moments or political miracles to save our country. To commit to teamwork, knowing that we are stronger together, and that it takes unwavering and consistent hard work to succeed.
Unlike in rugby, real life offers no trophy, and it is not a competition either. Life should be about living meaningfully and creating a ‘betta’ society for all around us. I think we as South Africans would do much better in this regard, if we took inspiration from Kolisi and his teammates and work together with those around us to create a ‘betta’ society. It does not take politicians, it takes us!
The dream team challenge
Perhaps, the way in which the Springboks built a diverse team as priority, before focusing on winning, held the most important lesson for us. It was exactly their combination of complementary skills, experience and backgrounds that ensured success. Their focus was to make each other – and their country ‘betta’.
How could we apply this lesson to our own lives, communities, and industries? As a tourism operator, I know that the goal is for all our customers to have the best possible experience – not only when they interact with our business – but throughout their stay in our country. And that requires working as a team with many others who complement what we do.
To illustrate this point, I am selecting my own tourism dream team. I challenge you to do the same in whatever industry you work. Let us be the change. Let’s stop relying on government for policies, systems, grants, and bailouts. Let’s build our own success. Let’s be like the Springboks!
My choice of team members is conscious of the trials and tribulations of our society. While I absolutely despise the bureaucracy of government and the endless systems of compliance forced upon us – especially in terms of black economic empowerment (BEE) and employment equity, I am deeply aware of the wrongs of this country’s past and the need to grow talent of all backgrounds and races all the time. I also know that in tourism, our diversity is our biggest competitive advantage.
We simply must make sure that tourism produces many Siya Kolisi’s. Not by promising miraculous roads to success, through tenders or political positions, but by supporting sustainable businesses that would ultimately benefit wider society.
Here is my tourism dream team:
Captain: Bheki Dube of Curiocity Africa
Captain of my team is Bheki Dube of Curiocity Africa. A 30-something tourism and hotel entrepreneur. Having started his own tour business on the streets of Maboneng at age 19, he has grown to own several hybrid hotels, hostels and tourism experiences a decade later. Curiocity Green Point is my favourite place to stay in Cape Town. There is also Salt Boutique Hotel and SaltyCrax Backpackers in Table View. Plus, the new The Big Backpackers by Curiocity in Green Point. In Johannesburg, there is Curiocity Backpackers, 12 Decades Art Hotel, Fox Street Studios and Urban Fox Penthouses (all in Maboneng).
Bheki is one of the most committed, dynamic, and inspirational people I know. Certainly the ‘Siya Kolisi’ of tourism who inspires us to keep going! What I respect most is how he has worked consistently to build a great brand, to attract direct investment rather than waiting for government grants and tenders, and to create opportunities for others along the way.
In terms of a team, it is all about supporting each other. Therefore, for the rugby world cup final, I convinced five of my 50-something year old friends to check in with me at Curiocity Green Point for the night, and to watch the final there – enjoying the diversity of the audience – a mixture of locals and overseas travelers. A magical experience it was! Even though we were too tired to hit the streets to go galivanting at 2am!
Fly-half: Charlie Moyo of LocalPlaces – JoburgPlaces
My dream team fly-half is Charlie Moyo. My colleague who runs the JoburgPlaces branch of LocalPlaces. While I am in Cape Town running the IkapaPlaces branch. When the Boks want results, they give the penalty kick to Pollard, who never misses. In the same way I rely on Charlie as the best and most consistent storyteller. Always wowing our guests.
For the rest of my dream team, I am not allocating specific rugby positions, but listing them for the versatility, diversity, and richness they bring to tourism. Together we grow a stronger tourism offering to the benefit of our entire society.
Ayanda Mnyanda of City Skate Tours
Bringing a whole new dynamic to contemporary urban and cultural tourism, whether it is by skateboard or by walking. We admire what he does!
Kelvin and Jarlyne Joel of the JHB Culinary & Pastry School
A legendary Joburg institution, located at 85 Commissioner Street, the erstwhile Barclays banking hall where they train countless young chefs and stage fantastic events too.
Gilda Swanepoel of Eenblond Tours
When it comes to cultural tourism and immersions in places as diverse as Fordsburg and Soweto, to explorations into nature areas from the Panorama Route to Vic Falls, Eenblond is simply unsurpassable,
Gabriel Chauke of Gabriel on the Go
For transfers for our guests and transport for our tours, no-one is more reliable, friendly, and consistently ready to impress than Gabriel.
Sanza Sandile of Yeoville Dinner Club
It is a travesty that I have never eaten at the Yeoville Dinner Club. But that is only because for years we ran storytelling dinners at Zwipi Underground/Thunder Walker/Charlie & Gerald’s Town Treasure at the same times, meaning I could never find a gap to take a group to Sanza. But I do know that all our guests who have been there, recommended it as a great Pan-African Culinary Experience. Anyone with great African food, is on my dream team for sure!
Sarah Barret of Joburg 360
Sarah’s passion for tourism, history and especially art, is legendary. Her ability to showcase the best of Joburg is simply admirable. Her sense of humour and general optimism great to have on a team.
Nolukhanyo Dube-Cele of Seven Colours Eatery
This superb woman chef runs a fantastic African restaurant at Battery Park in the V&A Waterfront. Her delectable food provides a local gastronomic experience, telling the stories of her childhood and ancestors all the way to Cape Town of today.
Senait Mekkonen of Addis in Cape
Another women foodie entrepreneur, who runs the exquisite Addis in Cape restaurant in Loop Street Cape Town. More Pan-African food to devour – a must for the tourism dream team.
Iain Harrison of Coffeebean Routes
Iain’s commitment to meaningful tourism, deep experiences and the growing of local small, medium. and micro enterprises are legendary. Who would not want to participate in a Colour Wine Safari or a Cape Town Jazz Safari?
James and Vicky Peech of the Peech Hotel
It must be one of the most exceptional and popular boutique hotels in Johannesburg and a place that our guests love to stay. And a place from which we love to take guests on tours and experiences.
Dale and Tanja de Ruig of Hallmark House
Running one of the most astonishing properties in Joburg that involves the Hallmark House Hotel and Rooftop (with the most spectacular views in the city), as well as the legendary Marabi Club. Of course, they are also famous for music events. People who boost tourism every day.
Faeeza Abrahams and her daughter, Nurahn off Faeeza’s Tea Garden/Home Kitchen
This mother/daughter team run a formidable cooking school and tea garden combination in the Bo-Kaap, famous for exceptional Cape Malay Cuisine.
Franck Leya of Honest Travel Experiences
For his sheer energy, optimism and believe in tourism and business as a transformative power, Franck must be on the team. Perhaps he is the Faf de Klerk of our dream team. Never sitting down, always coming up with a new plan.
Kennedy Tembo of Micro Adventure Tours
For both urban and nature adventures, sporty and energetic. Kenndy keeps everyone going.
Thokozani Mandosela and Tshepo Mokone of Thank You Bar
An artist and a tour guide, who also owns a bar on the side. Great spot for drinks, live music and being stronger together in Maboneng, Joburg.
Everything is going to be alright!
With a dream team like that everyone in tourism is going to be alright. Of course, there are many more who could be considered, but this is my biased personal list of tourism heroes. I shall post about other focused dream teams in future, including in sectors such as fashion, events, restaurants and art. But please send us your lists of dream teams too. Let’s promote local and support each other!
- Gerald Garner
Committed to creating a ‘betta’ South African society.