Many in Diaspora want to return one day, see SA glass half full

by Alec Hogg

Enjoyed a couple hours last night with young London-based South Africans. They were eager to get the “back story” about their homeland. The group, all white males, graduated together at UCT a decade back and for the most part see their time in the UK as a way to improve their skills and gain experience.


My takeaways? The product being delivered by private or old Model C schools ranks alongside anything elsewhere. Most of these successful young men are keen to return home, but unsure about when they will do so. They fret about the state of SA politics and the seemingly endless flow of bad news.

But they also remain positive about the country’s future and are keen to contribute, even while still London-based. Also, these young white professionals have have absorbed the reality and need for BEE, and appreciate that when they do return, they’ll work for themselves or in family businesses – corporates are “for other people”.

Despite the challenges of recent times, many in the Disapora still see the SA glass as very much half full. It’s up to those of us who live in the mother country to do what we can keep it that way.

From Biznews community member Paul Tzanos

1. Saffas in London: I am an experienced CA(SA) and have worked in
medium-sized companies and 2 larger audit firms, starting in 2001. My heart
is in this country and my wife and I have chosen to raise our children
here. I have also come to realise that, professionally, if I am to progress
(and that normally means economically and up the ladder), the price I pay
will be measured in sacrificing more “family dollars” – a price I am
unwilling to pay. I have also jobhunted enough to know that, aside from BEE
considerations, employers are selective in whom they even interview, never
mind employ. There are many jobseekers including those who continue to
return to SA. I also know that the traditional working world can no longer
offer any guarantees (work for 40 years, retire on your pension) and that
those who continue to embrace change will be the ones who fail forward and
succeed ultimately.

So I have just launched my own finance, tax, and accounting services
organisation and I look forward to shaping my own destiny! This not because
I am a white male, but rather because the formal working world has run out
of solutions to the world’s economic and lifestyle challenges.

2. Antjie Krog’s views on land nationalisation: the comment that
forgiveness was conditional may or may not be true – but I take issue with
applying it retrospectively (“we did not get what we realise now that we
wanted then and now we are going to take it”).

I know that it is not as simple as that, and I cannot begin to imagine how
people have suffered and continue to suffer. However, I do not believe
nationalisation of land and then redistributing it is the answer – it
assumes that government can solve this problem – which it manifestly
cannot! The solution lies in each one of us waking up and being the change
we want to see – some have and will, many haven’t and won’t. Does that mean
that forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do (or cannot do)
will bring reconciliation? What kind of reconciliation is it that depends
solely on one party getting something and the other giving it? If the
parties are willing, then that’s awesome! Is the solution not to look at
existing mechanisms to make those better?

We can theorise and academicise (new word?) this discussion – but the
reality is this: if the vested interest by those wielding power (not
necessarily government) is there, it will happen – if not, then it won’t –
no matter what we try to do.

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