#ImStaying movement celebrates Mzantsi

There are 678 000 people on the #ImStaying Facebook group and growing each day.

A Milnerton man has started a nationwide movement that encourages South Africans to be more patriotic.

Jarette Petzer, 39, said he woke up one day – and like many South Africans – was tired of hearing about all that was bad in this country.

He said that everywhere he looked there were always negative stories coming out of South Africa.

On Saturday September 7, he started a Facebook page to encourage others to come together and share the beauty they see around them – the beautiful surroundings, the beautiful people and amazing stories. A month later, there are nearly 680 000 people who have joined the group #ImStaying.

Born and raised on a farm just outside Johannesburg, Mr Petzer said he grew up in a close-knit community with a simple upbringing.

He said that later in life when he moved to the city, he began to notice and embrace the differences that all South Africans had.

“Although we, as South Africans, have all these differences, it’s amazing how much in common we all have. I also don’t think the issue in South Africa is that people don’t like each other, I think people don’t know enough about each other,” he said.

Mr Petzer has lived in Cape Town for about 10 years and works as a real estate agent where he meets many types of people.

“You always hear people saying they are leaving this country and that the country is going down the drain. I meet a lot of people in my job and people actually love this country and want to stay.”

He added that people wanted to share their uplifting and feel-good stories with others and the group had given them that platform.

Members of the group share stories of how they pay it forward by random acts of kindness and encourage others to do their bit.

Ruan Koorts, a Goodwood resident and driving instructor, said that since joining the group, he was a much calmer individual.

“I used to get angry very quickly, but I have toned down right now because I know that there is much more to life than getting ticked off by the smallest things. I just log onto my Facebook and read the beautiful stories by young, old, black, white and interracial relationships. This is really helping to change South Africa for the better and this is the dream we all want,” he said.

Steve Koch, of Rondebosch, said he finally had something good to look forward to every time he opened his phone. “Every day, there is a nice story to read that makes one feel good. We get to connect with people from all over the country. People you wouldn’t normally feel a connection with. That is what I love about this online community,” he said.

Mr Petzer said he never thought the idea would pick up like it had and he was happy to see that a lot of South Africans chose to highlight the positives of their country.

“Generally, the feedback is fantastic even though not everyone is buying into it. I have read some pretty negative comments and reports about us. We can’t convince everyone, but we are happy with the community of people that have decided to band together and change our country for the better,” he said.