Believe – and propel Bay to prosperity

Luvuyo Bangazi
Luvuyo Bangazi
Image: Twitter/@luvuyobangazi

Once in a while and because of my job at the Mandela Bay Development Agency, I usually find myself sitting around a table with very important people discussing critical issues about the state of our beautiful Nelson Mandela Bay.

This week was one such opportunity, where Project Nelson Mandela Bay, a good citizens’ initiative, brought together leaders in business and local government to discuss what business can do to improve the fortunes of our city.

The guest speaker was Mike Able of MC Saatchi Able, Port Elizabeth-born and an industry leader in brand development who heads a multinational operation.

I joked with Mike about how he was once competition to my previous company more than 10 years ago.

Actually, he wasn’t. His organisation was in a completely different league from ours.

Mike asked the audience to give a thought to our competition as a city.

The question was: who is, or what is working against us as a city?

The honest answer is that it is mostly us, the people of Nelson Mandela Bay, who are usually the most negative about our city.

We seem to be specialists at diagnosing our own problems with little to offer as solutions.

It is amazing to see how people from far away are so excited about the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, way more than most of us locals.

Young Christian Geimer from Germany, an avid and competitive triathlete, was overwhelmed when he heard that the 70.3 World Champs were coming to South Africa and without hesitation decided he would do whatever it took to make it to the Bay.

Fortunately for Christian, his dad is also an Ironman athlete so together they planned their journey to South Africa thinking they could nab their slots without leaving Europe.

Christian’s dad was successful, but Christian was not so lucky.

Unfortunately for him, he was not fast enough to get one of the 50 slots.

But here lies the issue. This young German flew all the way here to try to earn a slot to an event in September also happening here.

He was finally rewarded last weekend in Luxembourg, where he quickly posted “Da ist dass Teil. Sudafrika 70.3 WM ich komme”.

And then there is Juan Francisco from Ecuador.

I met Juan at the Ironman 70.3 Durban event, where he had come with one goal – to try for a slot to race in the Bay.

He flew from Ecuador to Durban so he could race and possibly qualify to come to the Bay and he did.

Juan and Christian’s stories are probably not unique.

Many around the world see the Bay as an ideal sporting destination where they can make their dreams come true.

It is the sort of belief that many of us who live in this city have trouble with.

We don’t need to have all our issues sorted out before we believe how amazing our city is, but our belief is needed to propel this city from one of opportunity to one of prosperity.