Why do some expat Saffers return to SA? Here’s one story.

JOHANNESBURG — Having been an expat myself (I lived in Dubai for 4 years) I completely relate to this post below that first appeared in SAgoodnews.co.za. While South Africa is probably a decade (at least) behind the rest of the world in just about everything, there is something about its rhythm and day-to-day experiences that you can’t beat anywhere else. Yes, things here are of a third-world standard, but the sheer beauty of the country and its people cannot be replicated. Hopefully, the economy can get going again to lure back more expats in future, because if South Africa starts working, it can become a fantastic place to be. – Gareth van Zyl

*This post is republished with permission here from SAgoodnews.co.za.

I follow a Facebook page ‘Reasons for returning to SA’. Quite often there are touching reflections, inquisitive enquiries, forceful justifications, whatever their view – all are movingly honest. I came across this last week, I thought it so well written. 

Read also: Why SA needs a more migrant-friendly policy while also luring back its expats

By Melissa Leigh

I have contemplated writing this for some time now.

Weekly, sometimes daily, I am asked the question ‘why did you return to South Africa.’

I joined the ‘let’s immigrate’ process a while back.

Oh! The temptation of the UK, the thought of being safely ensconced in a society that functions on a level that most of us dream of, a life where contribution equals return.  Country roads, Sainsburys with gorgeous produce, markets and farm stalls, walks that were so beautiful they can make your head dizzy. Sick? … pop into the local doc, all sorted.

Sounds like heaven right?

Yeah, possibly.

But week after week, month after month, and the nanny state becomes a silent killer. A space where you start taking extra Vitamins because you lack the most basic African right — sunshine! Where you start feeling like you’re back in grade 10 – everything is so regulated you are almost waiting for the nun to run her ruler across your palms if you so much as fart in a pubic spot. Go for a drink — only if you are working 5 jobs or have a serious trust fund.

The sound of the waves on African shores — a thunder that is so close to all our hearts —- forget it! Beaches that ‘lol’ around, no pounding, no excitement, just a big dam with a slight current.

Possibly the most depressing part for me was the slump of shoulders. There does not seem to be a brisk walk, an eager smile, or an enthusiastic ‘wow’ factor to the day.

It does sound dismal, and that is unfair. The UK has an incredible beauty, the system works, and there is an incredible sense of being ‘taken care of’ that is non-existent in SA.

Perhaps, maybe, maybe, if I could transport all my friends and family there like Noah’s Ark, maybe, maybe, perhaps I could do it. But I would have to transport the wild storms, lightning, that sense of being ALIVE…. SA is like skydiving when you have no idea who has packed your chute – UK is like practicing skydiving in the hangar.

I looked out of my plane window and felt a moment of nervousness. Start again, back in SA, a million thoughts…. a million emotions. I walked through the gates and there was a huge big smile, total inefficiency, but a purpose, a smile, a laugh, and boy oh boy… home! I watched my granddaughter run to me, jump into my arms, burst into tears and tell me ‘Granny, you may NEVER leave again’.

Five minutes later I saw the ocean.

I was home.