Topic-icon South Africans are coming home...

14 years 5 months ago #23243 by sassy
And who said the grass was greener on the OTHER side?

'South Africans are coming home'

About 1 200 South African emigrants have returned to the country in the past two years, the Come Home Campaign said on Thursday.

Manager of the Campaign Alana Bailey said while many South Africans living and working abroad were hesitant to return because of crime and uncertainty about job opportunities, they missed "home" and wanted to return.

She said there were currently more than 3 000 South Africans trying to come back to the country.

"Lots of people are worried about crime, job prospects and are scared of local red tape, but they are trying to come back," said Bailey.

"Sometimes its difficult when people want to open businesses or bring back foreign spouses or pets. But that's what we are there for and we help them to return."

The Come Home Campaign was launched in 2003. It was a joint initiative by the trade union Solidarity and Company for Immigration.

"The trade union was worried about the skills shortage in SA, while Company for Immigration received numerous calls from South Africans asking why they were helping foreigners settle in SA but not South Africans," said Bailey.

"People needed help, they needed information so the Campaign was launched. And we offer a free service. Our funds come from Solidarity and Afriforum."

She said the Campaign assisted South Africans to come back home, it did not convince them to return.

Many South Africans returned because they missed home, some missed the weather, while others who left with the promise of a better paying job in another country, were "cheated", said Bailey.

"They go to other countries thinking that a good job awaits them, but when they get there the job is not as good as was promised so they come back."

Others simply return because they cannot get permanent residence in an overseas country and the unemployment rate was getting worse all over the world, said Bailey.

She said it could take anything between six to eight weeks or between three to five years to relocate.

This depended on whether people needed to find employment, if their spouse was a foreigner or if they had children in school.

"People do have problems coming back. If their children are born overseas they have to be registered here and then you have stuff like people who want to bring back weird objects.

"Some artists want to bring back material to work with but they encounter problems with shipment and then problems are also experienced when people want to bring back pets," Bailey said.

Returning to South Africa could sometimes cost more than R100 000, including flight tickets as well as bringing back household goods.

"Just bringing back your dog can cost you about R40 000. You'll have to get permits that they don't have diseases and then you'll have to pay for shipping and care."

Bailey said the majority of South Africans who return were between the ages of 28 and 45.

They return from the United Kingdom, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

She said many people who came back found it easy to pick up where they left off if they had friends and family in the country.

"And often you find that people tend to look for a house or a job in the area they were in before they left. After long terms of being away, they will go back to the same area." - Sapa

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 5 months ago #23246 by Redhot
Eish yes how we miss home:( :(

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 5 months ago #23248 by Imraan
Well come... Home. Live like you want to, live good. Share!! ever!ything.
Maybe you will see.
As asp says......" its greener because theres more fertiliser there...." .

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 5 months ago #23253 by Girl4Pmb
Imraan wrote:

As asp says......" its greener because theres more fertiliser there...." .

LMAO! Imraan you are a riot! i mean that in a good way.

Returning to south africa permanently has crossed my mind lately, more than once. It would be expensive to ship everything, so i would have to sell everything and start over. It would kill me to put my house on the market, after i spent so much blood, sweat and tears in renovations :(

I don't think it would be difficult to start over, i think it would be more difficult to settle back into the south african way of life.

Damn i miss home. somebody fedex me a roti roll, bunny chow and some chicken curry!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28289 by mikes
the grass is greener where you water it!!....

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28290 by mikes
the grass is greener where you water it!!....

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28291 by Jooky
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC \"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN\" \"\"> ;
<link rel=\"stylesheet\" type=\"text/css\" href=\"\"> ;
<link rel=\"stylesheet\" type=\"text/css\" href=\"\"> ;
<script type=\"text/javascript\" src=\"\...t;></script> ;
<link rel=\"shortcut icon\" href=\"/favicon.ico\">
<link rel=\"icon\" href=\"/favicon.ico\">
<!-- navigation & page titles -->
<script type=\"text/javascript\">
var h = location.href;
if (location.hostname == \"\"){h = h.replace(\"\", \"\";);}
if (h != location.href) {location.replace(h);}
function hidestatus(msg){
return true;
<a href=\"#navigation\" class=\"skip\">Vai para Conteúdo</a>
<div class=\"ctbody\">
<a name=\"more\"></a><div align=\"center\"><object codebase=\",0,0,0\" ; type=\"application/x-shockwave-flash\" data=\"\" ; width=\"551\" height=\"640\" ><param name=\"movie\" value=\"\"><param name=\"quality\" value=\"high\"></object></div>
<div class=\"ctit\">
</body></html><!--start flush--><!--end flush-->

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28292 by sheree
I will NEVER return to the next Zimbabwe.No matter how you sugar coat news, Trevor Manuel and the like of optomistic fools - the country is being managed by warlords who now kill policemen,abduct and murder children, mastermind cash heists....and on and on! Things sure have changed for the worst (ya,old story,I know!)

An ungovernable future awaits SA -be warned!<br><br>Post edited by: sheree, at: 2006/11/01 02:39

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28293 by Girl4Pmb
Sheree, where do you currently reside?

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28505 by lonelypixel
Ya'll can all come over to funville... There's always room for more, and the grass isn't only greener, it tastes like candy too...:woohoo: :woohoo:

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28512 by meecegirl
Eish sorry you feel that way Sheree....

All i will say is, those at home DONT Hate on those whom have taken the courage to jump out the nest into foreign skys .....and

Thos whom have jumped into foreign sky's Dont Hate on those back home whom have choosen to persue lives on the rand.

We all different...want different things...define success differently….one would rather live in a country that is under terror attack than living with local crime….one would rather go out and ‘find’ greener grass than just harvesting the grass they already have and make that greener ….which ever you are

Just Blerrie stop Hating period!
:kiss: :) :kiss:

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28932 by Claudelle
i live in the usa and i DONT wanna go home anytime soon.
i am enjoying my life here.
its very peaceful, but like every single country on this earth, the usa has issues.
no country is perfect and i dont think anyone has the right to critisize the place where others live. if some are happy in s.a, then go ahead with your bad self.
if people are happy in london, aweh, do the damn thing.
everyone is diffrent and has diffrent priorities, and those priorities eventually determine where you live.
i miss south african sorely and i hope that one day the economy and crime will be under control so that i can return there with peace in my heart.
i love the usa, but home is where my heart is!

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

14 years 2 months ago #28938 by Girl4Pmb
lonelypixel wrote:

Ya'll can all come over to funville... There's always room for more, and the grass isn't only greener, it tastes like candy too...:woohoo: :woohoo:

I got my one way ticket to funville! i'm on my way! :P

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

13 years 5 months ago #60059 by sassy
Packing For Perth...and New Zealand, and the USA, and the UK and, and, and..
Well, we all know that the emigration stats are up to paw paw, many folk who have left SA actually let the authorities know? In my circle of friends, I only know of one family that actually did it officially, everyone else went on a 'holiday' and never came one can only imagine what the real figures are.

No good scanning removal companies, not everyone is attached to their Morkels lounge suite...
There have been no published South African emigration statistics since 2003, leaving a huge gap in research. Statistics SA published the last official emigration figures in December 2003...that's like ancient history in the fast changing face of South Africa..

The last official immigration figures were published in July 2005.Kenneth Manikela, the statistician at StatsSA who compiles the Tourism and Migration monthly publication, said there were plans to start publishing the figures again, once home affairs had begun collecting them. "There was an amendment to the Immigration Act of 2002 which did not require the figures of South Africans leaving to be recorded. We compiled them using departure forms people filled in at airports, and those forms will be introduced again in the near future."

Manikela said there were plans to get South Africans leaving the country to fill in the departure forms. The lack of figures was leaving a "huge gap in research". "We have been in contact with the department of home affairs, telling them there are a lot of organisations wanting this information. For this reason we are really pushing to see that this data is collected."He said Stats SA would be meeting home affairs to discuss the issue.Mike Ramagoma, the adviser to home affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, could not confirm whether the department was considering the re-introduction of the departure forms.Ronnie Mamoepa, spokesperson for foreign affairs, said his department supported compilation of statistics."The matter is one for the department of home affairs, but as our ministry is concerned with all affairs with international implications, we do support legislation to have emigration figures recorded."

The SA Institute of Race Relations was also anxious for the figures to be published once again. Frans Cronje, the institute's development director, said they only had their own research on emigration to rely on.

The institute has drawn from a range of sources to identify an alarming emigration trend, which shows most SA migrants are skilled white men. "We used Statistics SA's mid-year population estimates, which they get from the national census and comparing the figures we estimate that around an average 800 000 white South Africans have emigrated from 1995 until 2005. We put the number at no less than 500 000 and no more than 1,2-million."The institute first published this figure in 2006. Although media reports at the time suggested white South Africans could have been under-counted in the 2001 census, Cronje said a major shrinkage in the white population led to that conclusion.

"The major gap was shown mostly in white men aged between 25 and 35 years old. This kind of pattern is usually shown in countries where there was a war and young men were killed. We don't have anything like that, so the assumption is that emigration was the cause."

They have also noted the most popular destinations for South Africans are the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. Cronje said South Africans were also emigrating to other parts of Africa, Hong Kong and the Middle East."In 2006 the SA High Commission in Britain estimated that there were around 750 000 South Africans in the UK - it is really the number one destination for South Africans."However, he stressed these figures did not include South Africans who entered the UK through family living there, or those with dual citizenship.

The Homecoming Revolution, an organisation which encourages expatriates to return to South Africa, agreed that most South Africans who emigrated went to the UK. "We never actually found really accurate statistics. But, we do get a lot of our information from removal companies, who deal with international moving. That has been the best way for us," said spokesperson Megan Wood.She said the organisation received 100 inquiries a month from South Africans abroad who wanted to come home."Through information we received from a removal company in 2005, we estimate that for every one person leaving the country, there is one coming back," she said.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

13 years 4 months ago #63134 by Lees
This contribution is from Carla McClachlan in England

I am going home, I just love the place, its sounds ..... its smells ...

I have been a bit slow in reading the last two newsletters as we have been moving and then went on holiday, but now that I have finally gotten down to it, I am enjoying reading through once again.

I don't actually eat meat (yes I am South African), but still love reading your newsletter.

There is one topic I would like to comment on, your 'Going home or staying put' article.

I agree that South Africa is suffering a backlash from apartheid days and that the crime is a sad state of affairs. I feel awful that you and many others have suffered. I am currently living in the UK and to be honest with you, I am more fearful here than back home. Not only of potential attack by individuals but by organized, political groups. I am horrified by what some of the teenagers are capable of here, where they go on sprees of attacks for no purpose whatsoever.

I am mentioning this because in South Africa people are subject to utter poverty and I honestly don't know how I would react to this situation (poverty stricken) should I be in it. Also, while this is no excuse, for many years black people were subject to the same and worse violence by the white people and for this reason I am not entirely surprised that there is this backlash.

My comparison is because the violence in South Africa comes from a place of desperation and vengeance, whereas here, there is NO reason other than sick pleasure.

I have been out of South Africa for three years now and go home (to Cape Town) every year. We were in Johannesburg this year and was amazed at how well our friends and family are doing. They do stay in these secure villages, but still enjoy a lovely quality of life. We are hoping to be able to go back to South Africa to live next year.

I have two groups of friends that I made while staying in Denmark who are so relieved to be back in South Africa as they found it extremely difficult to keep track of their teenage kids while in Denmark. There is a wholesomeness and old fashioned manners still present in South Africa that just doesn't seem to exist in Denmark and England. I am saying this from what I have heard from them as I don't have kids, but I have witnessed some very rude behaviour from kids this end of the equator.

When I moved to Denmark I thought that it epitomized everything I would hope for South Africa, but you know what, they have the highest level of depression and suicide.
People just don't seem to worry about other people.
In South Africa, people really care, they are friendly and smile so easily. I really enjoyed my time in Denmark and felt very welcome there, but it highlighted to me what not having to rely on anyone resulted in.

I believe that there is a new generation growing up in South Africa that has not been subject to apartheid or national service and frankly don't give too much of a hoot about it. They are tolerant of all races (and by-the-way I find South Africa one of the most tolerant, non judgmental places I have been to) and will start to influence changes which will make South Africa the absolute best place to be in the world.

I love the place now, the sights, sounds. Even the smell of the place makes me feel 'home'. I want to be there to be part of the solution, because I admit that solutions are required. It is HOME.

I hope I make some sort of sense. I understand that some people don't want to be in South Africa for many reasons.
I just happen to not be one of those.
Thank you once again for a fab newsletter.

Very best wishes
Carla McClachlan
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This is from Marinda van der Brugghen. Marinda is one of our new subscribers this month.

Hello everybody!

I have been living in Naperville, Illinois, USA since March of this year.
We arrived here in the States in January and stayed in Chicago, Illinois for eight weeks as I gave birth here to my second daughter Storm. I have come to really enjoy where we live and my eldest daughter just enjoys the freedom she has here to run around in the street with her friends ( something she could not do in South Africa). It is very family orientated and that is great!

We still have to get use to the cold winters we have here! Already we have had a few nights where it has gone 3’C past freezing point. We got a taste of the cold when we arrived in January and could not believe that it could get this cold.
We actually do not mind it cause the sun is out and the skies are blue.

The people in the neighbourhood here were so tremendously nice when we moved in. They came over to welcome us and even brought us food.

I have become so used to the safety here and being able to walk with my dog at 22h00 at night and not feeling scared at all!

Thanksgiving is coming up soon and we will spend it with friends at their place so we can see all the traditional things they do and eat on this holiday. My eldest is in school and has already started speaking in an American accent. It is not too bad cause here in Illinois they actually speak a decent dialect.

Wishing you all of the best!

Marinda van der Brugghen
Naperville, Il. USA
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The last contribution is from Sjoerd Walda from New Castle in South Africa

Hi there in Belgium. Not back yet in the good old country?

After living for 40 years in Helmond in Holland, I am back where I grew up as a kid for 14 years in Durban!

I also used to order Boerewors over the internet from a shop in the UK! But boy, was it expensive!
I bought your Biltong Maker through the Internet 5 years ago when i was still living in Holland and it's still going strong! Thanks a lot as we say here in KZN!

But since 18 months I am now back in Kwazulu-Natal, where I bought a house in Newcastle. I must say that the Boerewors and Droëwors is much cheaper than overseas!!

My name is Sjoerd Walda (male). I was born in Helmond in Holland in 1948. We went to South Africa in 1949 and lived there till 1963.
I went back on holiday 14 times and now I am back for good!
The reason i went to South Africa on holiday so often is because my only sister, who is 5 years older than me, lived in South Africa and in 1965 married a white guy from Durban!

So at the age of 56 I retired and left Holland for good.

Yes there is such a lot of crime here in South Africa and how the country changed since 1963!
But there is only one South Africa with all its traditions and I am very happy here in Newcastle.

I still receive your newsletters and always like to read what South Africans overseas have to say about how much they miss there homeland!!

Kind regards,

Sjoerd Walda
New Castle, South Africa

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

13 years 3 months ago #69001 by sassy
Moving to new pastures brings with it high expectations of a different life. But, as the old saying goes, the grass isn`t always greener on the other side.
Phillipa and Abraham Cilliers used to own the Yard of Ale pub at the Market Theatre complex before it was closed down in 1994. They were concerned about crime and decided to emigrate to New Zealand in 1997. Four years later they have returned.

From the moment they arrived in New Zealand, Phillipa knew things were going to be different: "You land at the airport, and there are dogs sniffing for fruit and vegetables ... and you wonder whether they haven`t got anything better to worry about." Phillipa already had a teaching job, and Abraham was confident he would get work in the IT industry.

Journalist Howard Donaldson left for London during one of the peak emigration periods 13 years ago, but for different reasons: "It was a great dream to get some experience in Fleet Street, and to be honest, that was a major part of my drive to go over there. Also, things were going horribly wrong here at the time."

His wife Jo-Ann left South Africa in 1995, to explore career opportunities. She spent a short time in the United States and then a year in Germany. She and Howard met when they both returned in 1997 and discovered they shared a new positive attitude.

The reasons for people leaving are many and varied, but the prevailing feeling is that there is little hope for them, their children, or the country. For Howard, the final straw came when he was asked to spy for the Nationalist government. He was single at the time, so he decided to leave South Africa to seek greener pastures. It was no bed of roses at first.

"I worked in pubs off and on, at a garden centre ... and earned very little money. I found myself without a job at one point, shared a flat with a friend and had zero money," he recalls.

We tend to build up expectations of "the promised land" - visions of an ideal, caring, crime-free lifestyle. But the realities can hit harder and sooner than expected.

Vincent Williams - of the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, Idasa - has done studies on the impact of migration. He believes we may soon see a trend of returning South Africans whose expectations are far from the reality they encounter overseas.

"Most people believe that when they go and live elsewhere that the social problems they have to deal with in South Africa - crime and violence - will not exist at all. People also believe that when they get there they will find a job, which will be well paid," says Williams.

Phillipa says that she had the image of her child, Alex, and herself "walking along hills with sheep" and that "it would be really peaceful". Her dream was not far from the truth - they both got jobs for a start - but there were other things about New Zealand they had not bargained on: "It was very humid, very hot ... it was overcast a lot of the time, an overwhelming sense of greyness."

On top of this, little Alex couldn`t settle. They had been there a year when he stopped eating and drinking and began rocking back and forth constantly. The doctor said he was depressed, and wasn`t coping with being taken away from everything he knew.

Once Alex had recovered, the Cilliers moved to Wellington. By now they had been in New Zealand over a year and yet they still yearned for South Africa. "We missed going to the game reserve ... we missed proper braais ... we missed the noise of the insects you hear at night ... and I think you actually miss the chaos," explains Phillipa.

Howard had to contend with doing menial jobs for three years before eventually writing for two of Fleet Street`s finest, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. But he never quite felt he belonged there.

"I had a love-hate relationship with London. I loved everything it offered me in terms of media and culture and being able to use it as a base to travel to Europe and America. But I hated the weather", he explains.

Howard was determined at first to deny his South African roots. He made lots of friends and became established in his career, but he found London cold, frantic and alienating.

"There`s wonderful culture over there - film and theatre and you are exposed to lots of wonderful media, but the quality of life here is still incredible ... I realised how much I missed everything about South Africa," he says.

The most difficult part of the whole process seems to be evaluating the trade-off - balancing what you`ve lost, what you`ve left behind in South Africa, with what you`ve gained in safety and security. Howard says that the career path wore him down in the end, and he realised he was losing his quality of life.

Like Howard, Abraham and Phillipa felt increasingly disillusioned and eventually they hit rock bottom. For Abraham, the turning point was when he returned to New Zealand after a visit to Australia, and didn`t feel like he was coming home.

Howard had no plan to return until one notable day in April 1994, when the elections were called and he went down to the South African embassy and spoke to other South Africans, who were "all talking with such longing for home".

Jo-Ann also longed to get back home and re-discover her cultural roots: "As a South African overseas there is a gap, which you might believe that you`ve bridged, but I think that`s not really true."

Returning home means that people have to deal with the same issues that drove them away in the first place. Williams believes that for many, "there`s an initial period where they have to readjust ... they have to confront issues of crime and violence again".

Abraham acknowledges that in 10 years time it might be very difficult for Alex to find a job, but says that for now they are happy in South Africa. "It`s 10 years away and right now we have to think of our day-to-day life. As a family, where do we do better? I think that at the moment, here is where we do better," he says.

Abraham`s reason for coming back to South Africa is simple: "It just feels right. When I wake up in the morning, it feels like this is where I belong."

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

13 years 3 months ago #69002 by sassy
Karen - France: 'I am giving this another try, okay? So…'

Robert - Ireland: 'I am trying to film this. It is my third take now; I am having trouble with the sound quality…'

Charles - Canada: 'Greetings… my name is Charles. I currently live in Milton in Ontario, Canada.'

Robert: 'I left South Africa in 1999.'

Renee - Netherlands: 'I think that we left South Africa because we wanted to do something different.'

Yvette - Australia: 'It was probably the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life.'

Neil- Australia: 'It was hard coming across here.'

Debbie - New Zealand: 'It is an odd feeling, this no roots thing.'

Karen: 'We were regarded as something exotic.'

Debbie: 'It is great because I am like a global citizen, but it is a little sad, I suppose.'

These are the confessions of ex-pats… over 500 South Africans scattered around the globe who contributed to a book created in cyberspace.

Ted Botha (Author): 'For me, it's kind of emblematic of what happens with ex-pats, especially with the internet and this technological society we live in today; that is how ex-pats are making contact and finding each other.'

Ted Botha is a journalist living in New York City.

Ted: 'This is my apartment. Around the kitchen… and that's how we live in New York.'

He met up with co-author, Jenni Baxter, via the Internet.

Ted: 'We connected somehow.'

She lives on the opposite end of the earth.

Jenni Baxter (Author): 'This is Australia and this is my beautiful family.'

Ted: 'I was single in Manhattan, and she was married with children in Australia. And there were so many differences that we had between us, and yet there was so much we had in common.'

The two soon became fast friends.

Ted: 'She one day said we should really write a book about being an ex-pat because a lot of people feel the same way we do.'

Jenni: 'I said, 'Would you like to write the book?' and he said, 'No, let's do it together.'

Benedict Maaga (Carte Blanche presenter): 'The Ex-pat Confessions was born out of high tech communication tools such as email and the Internet.'

Jenni: 'Thank goodness for Word. Ted would change what he wanted to change and email it back to me.'

Ted: 'We never spoke to each other. Even through the actual writing of the book we never made verbal contact.'

Jenni: 'It was working so well to not know each other.'

Benedict: 'Similarly, we have had no physical contact with most of the ex-pats that contributed to this story.'

Rick - USA: 'I have never really thought of myself as an expatriate.'

David - USA: 'The toughest thing for me is the tag around my neck that I am an expatriate.'

Rick: 'I suppose I am. But expatriation to me has always sounded so negative and leaving South Africa was a positive choice for me.'

David: 'I am not an expatriate. I am still a patriot.'

Benedict: 'As one anonymous ex-pat put it, leaving South Africa is definitely not the chicken run. In fact, it is definitely not for the faint-hearted at all.'

Charles: 'I came here as a single parent with three children and six thousand dollars in my pocket, which was probably one of the more insane things that I have done in my life. But it is one of the insane things that, in the long term, has turned out for the best for all of us all round.'

Caryn - London: 'My mother read '101 Dalmatians' to me when I was five years old and I wanted to live in Primrose Hill in London, which is now home to all the superstars and film stars, so I can't afford to live there. But I love London and I have lived here for sixteen years and it is still a city that fills my heart and it is easy to get everywhere.'

Benedict: 'Jenni, tell us what your book is actually about.'

Jenni: 'The Ex-pat Confessions is all the things that the ex-pats have not been able to say, sometimes to their families and friends, for fear of offending them.'

Robert: 'I feel perhaps more integrated here than I ever did in South Africa, and just generally more comfortable.'

Rick: 'However, there is a downside. For me, that downside is losing that sense of home.'

Yvette: 'Out of the four years, the first two years were probably the hardest. Lots of tears were cried, lots of wishing that I could go back to South Africa.'

Karen: 'And it took a while. It took me four years before I began to understand and feel a little bit at home.'

Ted: 'I think a lot of people that leave South Africa don't realise the implications psychologically. They might not think of the fact that people in an English-speaking country might not speak the same kind of English as you; they don't speak in the same idiom.'

Jenni: 'You feel like English is your second language.'

Ted: 'People still don't understand my sense of humour.'

Jenni: 'You have to learn these new words and then you feel a bit fake using them.'

Ted: 'So you have this constant assault. It is an unintentional assault on your sense of belonging to a place. And you know back there, ten thousand kilometres away, is your home.'

Ted comes home regularly. He left South Africa more than a decade ago, because he felt career opportunities as a journalist were limited.

Benedict: 'Do you ever think about coming back home for good?'

Ted: 'Believe me, I strategise in my mind all the time that I am going to do it. But when I leave New York I want to leave not to go back. I don't want to go back to South Africa for the wrong reasons. I know I miss it and I know I love it here when I am here. But I want to make sure that when I move here I move here.'

Jenni: 'Here is the beach…'..soul as well.'

Jen the other hand is gone for good.

Jenni: '…it's Monday morning. The girls are dressed; they have got school today…'

She and her family have set up an idyllic life on Australia's Gold Coast.

It looks much like regular suburban South Africa…

Jenni: '…we are on our way to Mike's Kitchen.'

Benedict: '… with one glaring difference - safety and security.'

Jenni: 'The lifestyle of going to visit people in gated communities and gated homes and gated passageways did not feel comfortable for me.'

Neil: 'Well obviously personal safety and security is probably the biggest plus that we have had, coming here.'

Pauline - New Zealand: 'We don't have burglar bars on our windows. We sleep with our windows open at night.'

Neil: 'The children are free to use public transport.'

Pauline: I cannot explain it to somebody who hasn't lived outside of South Africa… the feeling of safety. As much as I love my family and friends in South Africa… I miss you all terribly… I will come back to visit, but there is no way I will ever come back to live in South Africa.'

Benedict: 'Do you find that there is a love/hate thing with ex-pats?'

Jenni: 'Not with all. Some there is definitely a little [of] resentment that, were things different, they would not have to be ex-pats.'

Ted: 'You come across some pretty nasty remarks from people who are angry. They are angry and they answer ' I am glad to be where I am. I never want to go back, I am glad to be where I am. There is nothing that I miss about South Africa'.'

Gary - Australia: 'There is a whole world to see and I would rather be travelling around Europe or South East Asia or America, Canada than have to go back to South Africa.'

Ted: 'And the people that have that passion and have the umbilical cord attachment, they do everything. They tell their children about South Africa. They introduce them to South African sayings. They try to keep up to date with South African politics. They keep the connection going.'

Renee: 'We took the plunge coming to live in the Netherlands seven years ago. Having access to all of the cities in Europe and to travel, it has been a great experience. But, of course, with all of that we have gained we have also lost a tremendous amount. I think that the one thing that I feel that we have lost the most is the fact that I can' t give my children some of the same things that I had as a child. They don't have a big garden to get lost in. They don't have a garden at all. They go to a big inner city school and come home on the tram. But even though they maybe lost the freedom of an African childhood, they have gained some of the freedom of a European childhood, which is to play in the street and to live a maybe… a more carefree life than a lot of South African children live now.'

Benedict: 'So answers the question what do ex-pats miss most…'

Ted and Jen spend many hours sharing memories via the net.

Ted: 'She would remember things about Natal; about the weather, about the beach, about the sea. I would remember things about the Karoo and about Johannesburg and thunderstorms in the afternoon.'

Karen: 'It is the tiniest little things that can bring on a huge ache.'

Ted: 'It is very sensorial perceptions that you miss.'

Karen: 'If there is a really strong wind and the washing is blowing I think of Cape Town and I get this huge wave of nostalgia. Miriam Makeba was right… ' Home is where the umbilical cord is buried'.'

Ted: 'Jenni and I always felt that something made South Africans different. Maybe it was the political background - we had all been through so much over the last three centuries together, and I don't think any other country has that mix.'

Is there a difference between how South Africans perceive their ex-pats compared to the way some other countries do?

Ted: 'South Africans think once gone, gone forever, and other countries don't think like that. In America they don't think an ex-pat's gone forever; they don't even talk about ex-pats really. They just say that so-and-so is living in another country.'

Jorge - UK: 'The UK is my home and I see South Africa as being the place where I was born and raised.'

Caryn: 'I have a global job. I can get to Cape Town easily, I can get to America easily and I love it.'

Ted: 'It is part of the ebb and flow of what nationalities do. It has become a lot easier for people to do that now.'

Robert: 'Life is the same wherever you live. I go to work, I have a house to look after, etc.'

Ted: ' And I think it's just the way the world has become.'

Karen: 'Don't know what else to say really, so I am just going to stop.'

Robert: 'That's it, thank you.'

Charles: 'Cheers.'

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

13 years 3 months ago #69004 by sassy
Believe it or not

Having lived in SA for 35 years and never travelled overseas (believe it or not), we moved to the UK six years ago on the spur of the moment and on the back of a good job opportunity. During the last six years we have come to appreciate that, more than anything else, our kids will be the ones that will benefit most from this experience. Having lived in SA only, you don't appreciate what a wonderful world it is out there. Our kids will grow up with a perspective equal to none. They will be wordly, well travelled, will speak multiple languages and will understand the nuances of culture and custom. Do we miss SA? Of course. This lot on this tiny island will never be our people. Do we need to go back - no. We recently went back to Cape Town and East London for a two-week holiday and were surprised that we experienced it as a great place to visit on holiday but that nothing else was really drawing us back. We had forgotten how great the climate was and the people are really friendly just for the sake of being friendly but that is about it. Coming back to the UK was coming home. For now.

Posted by: StevieB (2006/09/17 06:10:01 PM) | 0 Comment/s

home sweet home

I miss my family the most, my job, living in Dubai is safe and its nice not to have to worry about your safety but it still hard, SA is a beautiful country and will always be close to my heart....and the food is the best!

Posted by: Anonymous (2006/09/17 10:09:10 AM) | 0 Comment/s

Southern Comfort

I am a Cape Town girl living in New Orleans, helping with rebuilding the city after Katrina. I have been in the States for 3 years and I love it. I am very homesick though. I miss the culture, Mrs Balls chutney and Bar One's. I am a very proud South African and will never forget where I come from, and my whole family is still back in SA. It is interesting to travel the world, but there is only one South Africa. And I am keeping the name up high this side!!

Posted by: Mandie (2006/09/14 11:02:24 PM) | 0 Comment/s

Expat in OZ

My family and I have been living in rural Western Australia (2 hour's drive from Perth) for almost a year now. I did not leave South Africa for the children, I left for me. I could not tolerate the escalating crime and the government's ignorance towards it any longer.

The children (4 and 6) have settled well. Both fluent in English now, and both participating in all sorts of activities. I did not struggle to find a teaching job and my husband has settled so well that he was promoted within six months of arriving. There are ten other South African (all of them Afrikaans) families living in the same town and we get together at least once a week, but we have also made some very good Ozzie friends.

We are going to South Africa for a visit in December, I don't want to go, but my husband still has family there. This would be the last time for me, I am not looking forward to it and I do not want to expose my children to the crime and violence. The safety aspect in South Africa is a huge issue for me, it's just not a safe place to be. It does not seem as if it is a priority to stop the crime and I believe that more South Africans (not only white) will leave in the years to come. I know of many people who are in the process of immigrating.

South Africa is a beautiful country, but not beautiful enough to trade for the peace and quality of life that we have in Western Australia.

Posted by: Anonymous (2006/09/13 01:19:07 PM) | 0 Comment/s

The waiting game

When I read these messages I actually cried for what we still have to go through.

We have lodged our Visa applications and are now playing the waiting game - wanting so badly to get on an Airplane to Australia and leave everything behind for a new, fresh, safe start.

We almost didn't apply until, 2 weeks ago a friend of ours was assaulted by 2 Metro cops for refusing to pay a bribe.

So we're scared and excited and we're off as soon as possible.

Posted by: Angel (2006/09/12 04:01:22 PM) | 0 Comment/s

Home Sweet Home

I am a proud South African that came to U.S. almost six years ago on a great oppurtunity. In the beginning it was extremely hard, seeing that I was alone in an icy cold city, in the middle of winter..., other than the white beaches of South Africa the week before. I have learned much in my six years in the US. On a day to day basis I struggled with the decision to take a chance and go back home and face uncertainty or to stay and be successful, but unhappy. As I read all these posted messages, I feel that they all have deep emotional connotations. I respect the decision made of all those that wrote on this blog, and I also understand that that those decisions were made for a reason.

I can only speak for myself.I choose my family; I choose my culture and people; I choose to make my own luck and be with the people I long for on a daily basis. I choose South Africa and I will find my little pot of gold at the end of our rainbow... I choose to make South Africa a better place and in a short while I will travel to my next destination... South Africa!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous (2006/09/12 03:07:38 AM) | 0 Comment/s

Value of life in SA

My husband is originally from Vancouver but came to SA as a young child with his South African mom. We've always wanted to go to Canada to spend time in the country of his birth.
On 2 Sept his South African born granny was attacked in her home in Mowbray, Cape Town. She was 83 years old, they hurt her so badly that she was in a coma and died a week later in hospital from head injuries due to the attack. This has made me want to leave SA immediately, not for a while but forever. My sister lives in UK and has been keen to come back to SA for a bit but when she heard what had happened to my husband's 83 year old granny she realised that she could never return here.
The safety aspect is just too much of any issue. I can not believe that these thugs killed a helpless 83 year old lady. I am so afraid for my life and for the life of the people I love. There are so many friends that we have who are planning on leaving SA. It's just not a safe place to bring up kids. My husband and I are now wanting to leave SA for good as the value for life is just pathetic in SA.

Posted by: Anonymous (2006/09/11 02:31:30 PM) | 0 Comment/s

South Africa Is Still My Home, even Though I live In Ireland

To The presenters of Carte Blanch and to my family and freinds in South Africa, I send you my regards and best wishes.
Some people left South Africa for reasons of crime and a better way of life in another country.
I left to follow a dream, to further my education, so I can return and try to rebuild and give something back to MY Country, It is a country with so much to offer. All we need to do is pull together as one. We are all South African. Letts stop the violence, crime, murder, rape, stealing. We are a rainbow nation , so why leave your country in tatters for other countries, it is not always greener on the other side of the world. Look and work together, laugh and joke together we are all South Africans and we all want peace in our country. If we can work, live , laugh and joke together in another country, like in Ireland, I ask all the people in South Africa WHY??? we can not do it in South Africa. It will not be long before I come Home as I am Proud to be a South African and part of the rainbow nation. If we all pull together as one we can build a team of a better country for our future generatins. We are One and we have one country. So please bring peace to our land. As I love South Africa and yes I miss evrything about South Africa My Home. I have been away for 3 years now and yes I am comeing home soon.

Posted by: Christopher Azzie (2006/09/11 01:59:55 AM) | 0 Comment/s

A great Country

As i sit here and read your messages i cant help but wonder what has happened to our country. Im one of the people that is gonna stay, why i dont yet know. I love my country as i know do many others and it is such a pitty that South Africa has turned into a place that people cant wait to get away from. Me my family and just about everyone i know has been a victim of a violent crime people are being killed daily in our country kids woman elderly men and for stupid things like a cellphone or a wallet with 10 rand in it ??? Our current government doesnt give a dam they still are blaming everything on a era that yes was bad but isnt it time to move on and handle the real stuff????

South Africa is a great country but how bad must it get before anything is done..

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

13 years 5 days ago #86534 by sassy
Coming home
Issue: January 2008

It's no secret: South African émigrés are coming back in increasing numbers. So does this mean a slowing of the 'brain drain'? Well, it's a little more complicated than that – but it's still great news.

'What's the New Zealand rugby team called again? Aren't they the Blackjacks?'
I've been telling the man next to me how France beat New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal, but now I just stare at him incredulously. When it comes to sport in the US, it's all, and I mean all, about baseball and American football. It's the little things like these that make the 16500km between San Francisco and Cape Town seem triple that.

I've lived in San Francisco for exactly a year now. Before that I lived in London for four years, and in Colorado for six months. It was never my intention to leave South Africa permanently – I just wanted to travel, get some overseas work experience and earn foreign currency. But at 29, I found myself fairly settled – until I left London, I hadn't felt the urge to go home at all. Perhaps it was living alongside the 600000 other South Africans in the UK that made me feel as if I hadn't actually left. But, since moving to San Francisco, homesickness has descended on me.

Why now? After all, here I am, surrounded by probably the most liberal Americans you can find. I can walk around alone without having to worry about my safety. I don't need a car, as the public transport system is efficient and cabs are cheap. Earning US dollars allows me to travel to exotic places and, as far as cities go, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

Perhaps it's because this city feels so much like Cape Town: its geography is uncannily similar. Maybe it's because in contrast to London, the move here has been a huge cultural adjustment. Although the language is (almost) the same, that's where the similarity ends. My sense of humour, accent and sport preferences are different, sure, but more than that, I am more aware of myself as a South African than ever; I'm used to living in a less homogeneous society. And, perhaps more intangibly, I find myself craving the warmth and easy connection with people, even with perfect strangers, that seems so effortless back home. Post 9/11, the US is less trusting, and the sense of community I now realise South Africans take for granted seems elusive here.

Two weeks ago I was sitting in the kitchen with my American roommate, contemplating my future. I'd been thinking of working for myself, but I am bound to my company in order to stay in the country. As I was thinking aloud, she asked, 'Well, what do you really want to do?' I had a moment of such clarity that before I knew it, the words were out of my mouth: 'I want to go home.'

At first, when I told fellow South Africans here of my decision, I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. 'But you don't even have your Green Card yet!' said one. 'You're mad!' said another. 'South Africa's great for holidays, but that's it. You should count yourself lucky you got out of there in time.'

Usually I disregard comments like these as I believe they're indicative of a need to justify the decision to emigrate.

I understand this, as I know how hard it is to leave one's friends, family and culture behind to start again in another country. But that's a personal decision, as is mine to return. South Africa, more than any country I've lived in, is what you make of it. This, together with the pros of being able to work for myself and being sur?rounded by a support network in a vibrant and beautiful country, far outweighs the cons we tend to dwell on.

I am an optimist, but I am not naive. I am aware of the challenges South Africa faces, and I'm not immune to the stories we all hear about the crime, corruption and inflation. But since being away, I've realised that as South Africans, we put our?selves down for the slightest setback, and we quickly forget how far we've come. Every country has its problems. Although many Americans are disillusioned with the political situation here, they remain fiercely patriotic and the vast majority would never leave.

A funny thing has happened: the more I talk about my decision, the more the South African naysayers seem to crumble and tell me in wistful tones how they wish they could go back too.

It's a funny thing, this Africanness we all carry within us. No matter how far away we go, how safe and perfect our lives may seem, we can't get away from it. Now that I've accepted this, all I feel is excitement. When my feet touch the ground at OR Tambo International in a few months, I'll be back in a country whose future some may think is undecided. To me, it is simply a place I call home.

I am not the only South African making this decision. Renier van der Westhuizen of Juluka, a monthly magazine aimed at expat South Africans living in the US, is hearing more stories of South Africans who, like me, are choosing to return home. 'The big reason they don't want to go back is the crime and uncertainty,' he says. 'Then again, it can take two or three years to adapt here, and even longer before you can call this place home. Some people never get to that point, and so they go back.'

Megan Woods of the Homecoming Revolution, an initiative that encourages South Africans to return home, says that fewer people are now emigrating to the US in the first place, but adds that the flow of people returning from the US is fairly steady. 'We're seeing that people will return to SA mainly for family and friends, particularly young families who want their kids to grow up knowing their grandparents and to have a good support network.'

Crime is not the only factor putting people off returning. Woods says that South Africans abroad are also worried about job prospects back home, but they'll return if the right career opportunity presents itself. To facilitate this, the Homecoming Revolution now holds regular career summits in various European cities to encourage skilled South Africans to meet with poten?tial employers. It seems that big business is jumping at this opportunity: over 40 companies exhibited at the Homecoming Revolution event held in London in October last year.

Ebony Frost, marketing communications manager of Global Careers Company – the organisers of the first 'Careers in Africa' recruitment summit in the US, confirms this. This year, Frost expects between 500 and 700 South African candidates to attend and meet with over 25 businesses, including Eskom, Sasol, SAB and Toyota.

So could this mean a slowing down of the 'brain drain' that government and private industry have been citing as the main reason for South Africa's shrinking middle class? Not really, says William Blankley, a senior researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council, but the problem is not solely ours – it needs to be seen in a global context. People, especially young graduates, see international experience as invaluable in today's competitive job market: they move to and fro all the time.

What we are seeing is the awakening of the local private sector to what is rapidly becom?ing a global trade in talent ('brain drain' is a familiar phrase in Australia, New Zealand and certain European countries too) – and South African companies are stepping up to the plate. 'Salaries for the top jobs in South Africa are on par with the rest of the world,' says Blankley. 'The problem in drawing top talent is that in South Africa, many of these jobs are much more wide-ranging. There's more responsibility and more stress.'

But filling mid-level jobs is still a problem. 'Talented peo?ple in South Africa move from middle management to top management quite quickly,' he says. The solution is for businesses and public sectors to seriously invest in training at all levels: 'You really have to grow your own timber.'

And, as always, money is a problem at the middle levels; one doc?tor told us that she had finally decided to leave SA because she'd found out that, after studying for seven years and specialising for four, not only was she working herself to death in short-changed public hospitals, but that a broker who worked at Discovery Health was earning more than her. Despite this, Kwaku Asante-Darko, a senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, says that South Africans are still choosing to return. After the 10-year democracy period, they are disillusioned with being foreigners in another country, he says, when SA seems to be doing well.

'They've realised that a black government in Africa is doing, economically, quite well? surprisingly well,' he says. There's also the temptation of being a part of a new nation – a dream that still exists, despite our problems. 'It is glorious to speak of a successful place and say: \"I did this; I played a part in this\",' he says.

But combating the brain drain will rely on more than just pulling the heartstrings of South Africa's émigrés. The formation of the NEPAD Business Foundation, whose primary focus, in collaboration with the Wits Business School, is the management and retention of local talent, shows that the government is fully aware of the need to address the push-pull factors that influence talent flux.

For Ayanda Holo, 33, owner of a communications company, coming back to South Africa from France was a business decision. He wanted to play a role in his country's growing economy, and it made financial sense to return.

'You can't limit ambitions based on geography,' he says. But he missed the way South Africans treat each other: 'There's a huge trust here,' he says. 'In Europe, nobody wants to know you unless they can use you. Here, everyone will be your friend until you screw up.'

He, like many others who have returned or are due to land soon, is in it for the long haul: 'I'm one of those people who feels an obligation, when things go bad, to sort them out; it's not in my nature to run away,' he says. Then he chuckles: 'Even if Zille becomes president, I'm not going to run away.' Such optimism, no one can deny, is good for business.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

1 year 3 weeks ago #204247 by rtiiosl
For my friend, a car moving from one country to another for the excitement and thrill is something without which he simply cannot live. A true American can only be bought in America (or in Canada). But many people are repelled by the idea of such a purchase only because it will have to be transported across the entire Atlantic. But in fact, delivering a car from the USA to other European countries has long been not a difficult task. Guys, am I wrong?

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.