The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Alec Hogg
As South Africa’s democracy matures, so too does its people’s attitude to migration.
Allow me to explain. In early 2002 I spent nine weeks in Australia setting up an office for our business. The visit brought me into contact with many Saffers. Without a single exception, all expressed a negative view of the old country, and even though my visit was temporary, they all strongly encouraged me to follow their path. Returning home was not on their agenda.
We’ve had a very different experience during our current adventure in the UK.
Almost without exception, Saffers here speak fondly of SA and of a desire to return at some point. They see their UK sojourn as an opportunity to build skills and test them in a First World environment. UK Saffers have a healthy interest in what is happening in the homeland and remain keen to contribute to the country’s future.
Some might say the weather – sunny Aus, muddy England – plays a part. Perhaps. My take is a little different. As SA’s constitutional democracy matures, its appeal will continue to grow. Saffers here are simply mirroring other London-based expats. For decades, Aussies and Kiwis have travelled to the UK to build experience and skills. But the vast majority have always intended returning home.
There is turbulence right now in SA as those who would derail Mandela’s Grand Plan fight against their inevitable ejection (and probable jailing) by sowing discord, especially through targeting racial minorities. But it is normal for opportunists to use corruption and other nefarious means to attempt the subversion of any young democracy.
The critical point is SA’s system has been stress tested and not found wanting. Hope springs.
Comment from Biznews community member Andries Knoll
I have lived in Australia since 2002 and as a Saffer I feel I need to correct your perception about Saffers living in Australia. I have many ex SA friends and colleagues living across Australia who have a very positive view about the old country and return to their homeland with regularity to visit friends and family. My wife and I have in fact started a small travel business (I am retired) which brings mainly Australian visitors to SA so that we can personally show them our country of birth and have them experience the vibrance and excitement of the new SA democracy, while also enjoying the beauty of our homeland. Most of our guests would not otherwise bother with travelling to SA due to all the negative press coming out of the country about the ongoing crime, xenophobia and political corruption and ineptitude.
I think in 2002 your view on Saffers in Sydney in 2002 might have been skewed by a small enclave of them living on the northern beaches trying to justify their actions to move to Australia. I was fortunate enough to have been relocated to Australia by my employer at the time.
But we live in hope. I truly believe that good will succeed over the bad in the long run, and hopefully the current ruling party has learnt a valuable lesson with all the current evidence being uncovered about state capture, corruption and nepotism and the resultant reaction of the voters.
My three adult children completed their schooling and studies in Australia having moved there as teenagers. Today they live and work in London, New York and Chile respectively – but they still call South Africa home!
I am of the view that the Saffer press have the tendency to perpetuate the negative views about Australians in general and Aussie Saffers in particular which is is just plainly wrong – Fake Media!
Aussie Saffers love the country of their birth and in general live in positive hope that the current turbulence will see a better outcome for all.
Have a great day mate.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.