Proudly South African

Face book, the way that millions of people, especially South-Africans all over the world are keeping in touch with family and friends, setting up contact groups with names such as “Proud expats” and “We love South Africa but……..”. I am not on face book at present but seriously thinking about setting up a group that is called “Proud to be South African and actually live in the country”

I don’t know if others out there feel like me but I am sick and tired of reading about South Africans who have moved overseas because they have decided that the grass is greener on the other side of the ocean, but whinge that they are homesick, pine for African sunsets and Highveld thunderstorms that rattle your teeth, they also miss Rooiboss tea, Mrs Balls chutney, Nik Naks, Wors and Biltong “to frikken bad, get over it”. Just look at last years hiding of England by the Boks at Twikenham (42-6). Of the 82 000 supporters there were at least 25 000 South Africans, it was like a home game for the Boks. The Bok supporters all are wearing the Bok jersey, faces painted, waving the South African flag and singing Nkosi Sikilele with gusto, many hold up signs like “we love you mom”, “I miss Poffader” or “South-African till I die” The same happened for Madiba’s birthday party last year in Hyde park, London, you would have thought you where in South Africa with so many “ We love SA, but not enough to make a contribution” brigade at the concert. It actually amuses me that so many Afrikaans people are holding out in the UK to get a passport, from the once dreaded enemy. I think De la Ray, De Wet and other Boer Generals would be turning in there graves to know that so many Strydom’s, Kruger’s, Potgieter’s and Pretorius’s are willing to trade in there SA passport for a British one, “how the times have changed”. These are the same people that are saying we cannot host a World Cup in 2010, as we don’t have the expertise or the skills, I have three words for you “watch this space”

Lets not fool ourselves SA has problems and there are many challenges on the horizon, but I believe that we need to be part of the solution and not take the easy way out. Recently on SABC adverts have been screened that promote that South Africa is alive with possibilities and that “change starts with you”. Perhaps we should all stop looking at the negatives and become part of the solution to make this country great. We should be asking “What can we do for South Africa, not what can South Africa do for us”.

However it’s not just South Africa that has problems, many of the countries that South Africans move to also have their share of crime, “yes I know hard to believe isn’t it”. Not that ex-South Africans will tell you that, they also tend to hide the fact that they hate the people and the weather by telling us how wonderful life is, that you can walk home without being accosted, how much money they earn, how disciplined and clean everything is “nowhere is that perfect”. In London last year alone over twenty teenagers where knifed to death, old people are mugged at will and in many European cities you have the honour of being caught on CCTV camera on average 320 times a day (George Orwell where are you??). In France this new years eve over 1500 cars where set alight by partygoers, not a big outcry from the media but can you imagine that happening in South Africa over a new year, it would be front page news all over the world, major TV stations would run and re-run the footage, the Rand would take a hit and crude oil would hit an all time high. These stories where in the newspaper recently “Lets print more money”, “100 000 stranded in day of Chaos”, “Council tax bankruptcy charge”, “Drunk driver gets seven years for crushing toddler at school gate”, “Pay rises will be slashed to the bone”, “Recession forces closure of 27 stores”, “3000 taxmen are paid to go to work…. And do nothing” “Wrong man is buried after blunder by undertakers”, “The low-energy bulbs that wont fit your light sockets”. So was it the Star, the Citizen, the Sowetan ?, surprisingly enough no, they where in the UK Daily Mail 8th of january 2009. “I thought the Island was so perfect !

So after all of us that have stayed behind and assisted in the difficult times to get the country on track again and believe you and me there have been many a night that I have not slept worrying about how bills will be paid and what the future holds while dreading the latest SKYPE from the friends or family overseas telling us how much money they are earning, what latest gadgets they have bought and what countries they have just visited. “No economic melt down for them” it makes me think that here they must have been earning a pittance or they where not entrepreneurial enough to make a success of their careers and need to go to a country that rewards mediocrity. They then sponge of the government systems, free doctors, free medicine etc when they have not contributed long enough to that economy. But then they also want to vote in South Africa so they want their cake and they want to eat it, how can you expect to have a say in the country that a) you don’t live in, b) don’t contribute to the economy or c) don’t have good things to say about it.

Another thing that irks me of is the fact that those “Leaving for London”, “Packing for Perth” and “High tailing it to Hobart” seem to look at settling down in expat communities, have more South African friends in their new found paradise than they did in South Africa and often get together to have braai’s, “mostly in crappy weather”, watch Currie cup rugby together, drink castle at the local pubs, with names like the Springbok arms, buy SA products from the expat who saw a gap and opened a shop so they can buy all the items they miss from home “ at a price of course” Its like living at home but without the “Swart gevaar” They walk around with T shirts, that have Nelson Mandela’s face emblazoned on it or the South African Flag, they wear T shirts that espouse they are 100% Boer or Proudly South African. As I have already mentioned all you get from friends or family is the good news of how wonderful life how many pounds are being earned, how disciplined everything is, there is no mention of 3 hour tube journeys to get to work and 3 hours back every day(that’s if your lucky and the train is not delayed because they are either on strike or something has broken, (“yes things do break in first world countries”) where you dare not look up and speak to anyone on a bus or the tube, where the doors of department buildings tell you to watch the door does not close on you (“are the Poms all idiots”?), of the chronic underage drinking and drug problems, that the majority of kids are rude and undisciplined (I believe the only thing that separates Prince Harry from the usual UK soccer hooligan or lager lout is the fact he was born in to a privileged family, “he is just a very rich Yobo”, whenever you read about him he has been drinking, fighting or generally making a nuisance of himself). The ecstatic South Africans forget to tell you it rains most of the year and in winter you don’t see the sun for months at a time, “come to think of it they don’t see the sun for most of summer either, that’s why they all look so sick and pasty.

Xmas time they really get homesick and morbid, (the only thing keeping them going are the January sales). They get all teary because they miss the family and skype or phone constantly, they also get upset because they are out of the loop regards family matters. Radio stations all over SA are inundated with requests from listeners overseas asking them to play South African songs and send messages of love to their families, “if you miss South Africa and your family that bad then move back here.

When they lived here would have not thought about buying expensive items, but drop thousands of rands for frivolous items that they would not normally have bought, my feeling is “if you earn the money there, spend it there”, contribute to your host nations economy, as I believe they are also having a hard time of it on the island at the moment and could probably use the extra cash, perhaps if you had spent the money there Woolworths would not have had to close down and retrenched thousands of staff.

Would they be so keen to live in a country that they admit to hating the people and the weather is atrocious if the exchange rate was in SA’s favour or a mere 5-1, “I think not”. I believe they should be charged a non-patriot tax when the fly in to the country on a “look what we have now and lets show you how we can spend spree” charge them the difference between the exchange rate and the R and lets see how many of the buggers flock in to the country for cheap food, beer and cloths. When they lived here they would have been hard pressed about buying expensive gadgets or fashion accessories, but when they come over for the “holiday” drop thousands of Rands on items that they would not normally have been able to buy and can only do now because of the exchange rate as I have said ‘If you earn the money there, spend it there”

Those who decide to have children overseas, mainly to enable them to become a citizen of the country due to the child being born there and costs them nothing as they use the healthcare system. They then want the rugrats nursery to reflect Africa. Why? “If South Africa is not good enough for your child to be born in or live in then why show them the good stuff that he/she wont see”? Make his/her nursery up like an Indian restaurant or as a Middle Eastern country and call him Habib if a boy or Kareshni if a girl “I believe Muslim names very popular at the moment in the UK. I have friends here from the UK and they recently had a baby, no requests to England for items to ensure that the room resembles London, Brighton or Manchester, no requests to family for stuffed toys resembling badgers, foxes or Paddington bear, they did not put in 3 fridges and leave the doors open, so the baby felt he was in the UK, no murals of a Tandouri restaurant or mosque to make the baby feel he was not missing out on essential UK culture. And they called him Jason, not Frikkie or Thabo.

Sour grapes ? “Perhaps”, jealousy ? “Maybe” however you can call me what you like, I believe in this country as well as her people and together we will make it a better country for all. As a friend of mine told me recently “Africa is not for sissies”

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