Don’t emigrate in the dark

By: Howard Feldman

Think that positivity is a strap line for stupidity as the lights go out across South Africa? Wrong…

Loadshedding and the frustrations that walk alongside it aren’t a joke. No South Africans are laughing as they face zero power and the economy wilts under the pressure of Eskom’s failures. But as the lights blink out across suburb and city there is one thing that every person should not do – emigrate in the dark. Why? Because when the lights come on in South Africa, you have people sitting next to you. The people who had the camping stove ready to make coffee, who made dinner by the braai by the light of the Console jar, who already had the board games on the table and the wine in the camping fridge. When the lights come on overseas, will someone be sitting beside you??

Finding positivity while carrying the weight of loadshedding alongside the concerns of education, economy and the cost of living isn’t easy. It also doesn’t have to be about looking desperately for something nice to say. Positivity is as simple as making sure that your needs are met and that your worries are faced with a dose of realism. Hate that loadshedding stops you from being connected to the internet? Purchase the right technology to keep you connected in the dark. Dislike the idea of waking up to no coffee? Get that gas cylinder set up and sit back with a coffee-fuelled sunrise.  Yes, these moments would be far easier if you could flick a switch but have you considered what these, and other African-powered problems, are doing FOR you?

Discomfort isn’t necessarily bad. Growing up with, and experiencing, adversity can potentially give you the ability to think out the box, to cope in complex situations and to live a live that’s fierce and free of fear. This approach doesn’t mean that you should accept corruption and mismanagement or live in denial of the problems that face South Africa. You can still be positive and recognise what is going on around you. The trick isn’t to find rainbows and fluffy kittens at every corner but to ensure that your most basic and important comforts are met. Get that gas cylinder and that inverter and that cup of coffee. Prioritise what makes you happy, even when the lights go out.

Look, you can’t be blamed for being negative and annoyed. Especially when you get your invoice three days after the last load was shed. Every one of us understands exactly what steps took us to this destination and how many steps are needed to take us to a new one. However, every country has its own problems. Emigrating to new shores may see you enjoying oodles of energy on a whim, but there will be other challenges that you’ll have even less control over. No country is without its issues, the real question you should be asking is what issues you are prepared to live with.

But before you throw your clothes into a bag, in the dark, consider waiting. Consider how adversity is shaping you into someone who can handle anything. Consider how a more positive outlook doesn’t mean overlooking the issues but rather finding ways of rising above them. And, perhaps most importantly, wait for that sunrise. Wait for the morning when you walk outside with your coffee and watch the African sun burn across the sky in colours that only belong to this continent and then ask yourself if it is really time to go. Turn and look around you. The people standing beside you, the ones on WhatsApp sharing your outrage, the ones that argue about corruption by the water cooler. They speak your language and they won’t be overseas.

For more information and book orders, go to:


Smile, Dammit! is a book about optimism and hope. It is about spring and new beginnings, and about endings that are happy – even if sometimes, along the way, the journey is not. It is about learning the critical skill of holding a mirror up close and loving what you see – and changing that which you don’t. In short, this book is about harnessing the immense super-power of positivity.


About Howard Feldman

Howard Feldman is one of South Africa’s leading entrepreneurs. His experience is global and extensive, spanning more than 20 years of working as a business strategist, keynote speaker, published author, both locally and globally, social and political commentator, morning drive show host and philanthropist.

Feldman provides insights into strategic thinking, motivation, facilitating solutions and addressing organisational challenges.

Feldman has used his experience and innate understanding of markets and business to also take his career into the fields of writing and radio. He is the author of two successful books – Carry-on Baggage and Tightrope: Musings of Circus South Africa. His third book; Smile, dammit – is scheduled for release in March 2019.

He is also the Morning Mayhem host on ChaiFM from 6am-9am, Mondays to Fridays.

Part of Howard’s career includes a 15-year stint building a global commodity trading business. He found significant conventional success, but lost himself along the way. His journey is an exploration of authenticity and meaning. Armed with business and academic knowledge as well as a brave and unflinching sense of humour, Howard uses his personal experience to educate and entertain.

Howard Feldman works extensively in executive and corporate training. His delivery draws on real-world experience, recognising the value of people and relationships without compromising the energy of entrepreneurship and career growth, providing audiences with applicable wisdom and the tools needed to thrive within a mercurial and challenging business world. He has a unique, positive outlook and courageously engages in conversations that most would prefer not to have. Through humour, insight, and disruptive thinking, Howard unravels complexities, unlocks talent, and ignites potential.