Did you ever think that one day, we’d be able to look back on a history of democracy in this country? Or that the things most of us were denied, we can now take for granted?
It is our special privilege that we carry the South African flag, this new symbol of respect and tolerance, emblazoned on the tails of our fleet. And it’s with a real sense of humility that this privilege has allowed us to loudly and proudly advertise our allegiance to our home wherever we can. Our flight over the Rugby World Cup Final in 1995 galvanised a supporter’s club of 43 million into believing, on that day, that South Africa could not be beaten. As history records, 15 New Zealanders believed it, too.
A year later, our presence once again proved a lucky charm; Ndizani Bafana Bafana Ndizani, branded indelibly across the under-wings and body of one of our fleet, has since become a sporting battlecry, initially triggered by not one, but two South African Airways jets roaring
over the FNB stadium for the African Cup of Nations Final. The Tunisians were beaten before they even ran out onto the field.
Time and time again, when an event of importance to South Africans has occurred, our presence has, in a sense, become expected.The 1999 inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki. The opening and closing ceremonies of the Cricket World Cup. And, of course, the 10th anniversary of democracy.
As South Africa has been welcomed back into the community of nations, we also realised that, in order to evolve with the country, we would have to examine our worth as a global carrier. Our new fleet, we believe, plays as much an ambassadorial role as our tail does, reflecting a young, robust nation. The value of this cannot be underestimated, whether it’s the way the world sees us, or how we see ourselves.
So from an energetic 70 year old to a proud 10 year old; happy birthday, South Africa.