From the same writer ...
A white refugee coming home…
Well, well, well…I do love to spark a debate and my last little ramble (A Canuck Kaapie) certainly got some individuals’ blood boiling. A good few old-school Johannes’ shook their heads, put there brandewyn’s aside, and decided to give me a good ol’ Groot Krokodil finger wag.
I was thrown the ever so popular, ‘Why aren’t you back in South Africa then’ line, as well as the clichéd, and oh so melodramatic ‘Crime in SA is real’ spiel… (cue the violin music). I am well aware of crime in SA- my student digs in Grahamstown- with a permanent SAPS inspector parking spot- can attest to that. However in life you will always have the pessimistic cowboy in his rocking chair, just waiting to shoot down the first glimpse of optimism.
It got me thinking and, after a discussion with some other young Saffa’s this side of the pond, I decided to gain some perspective. Being new to this land of frosty winters and mediocre ales, I decided to head down to my local watering hole in order to watch the Mighty Men in Green demolish those silly chaps in black, with that funny pre-game dance (Boks vs All Blacks if the sporting metaphors are not driving home here).
I pulled up a chair at the first Saffa supporting table I could find- not difficult… it was beaming with beers, meat and an all round incredible aura that would make Mandela and Sisulu do an African jive. I announced that I was new to Canada and, upon hearing my oh so smooth Saffa tones, was greeted with a backslap, a ‘howzit’ and an ice cold frosty beverage that would make the SAB breweries chairman kick his heels with glee.
I asked what had bought these fine esteemed individuals, stemming from Potch to Paarl, to this land of maple leaves and lumberjacks. I was expecting the clichéd drones of ‘South Africa is going the way of Zim’, or worse yet ‘I am here on the new white refugee programme’. But what was this? These fine learned persons threw crazy lines out such as ‘I am here to build up my skills, and then perhaps head home after’, or …‘I am young and traveling with every intention of heading home’. My word… The audacity of them all. I felt for a second a feeling of euphoria. A feeling that, unlike Brandon Huntley, I was indeed not alone in this cruel world.
As we sat and chatted it became clear that ‘our’ generation was not defined by age or race. Old and young we sat and conversed, discussing essential and global diplomatic issues. Issues such as Shalk’s mullet to Zuma’s latest auto’s sector stimulus policy. We threw in terms such as ‘china’, and were greeted by a hoorah by the Asian contingent in the back corner. My word, what a spectacular gathering of the finest South African minds of tomorrow.
We were indeed optimistic about SA, yet wanted a bit of travel under our belt that stemmed further than the Springs/ Benoni campsite. Madness I know, but true. We might not have agreed on the important things in life (i.e. WP are clearly returning to their glory days), however the question of returning home was not an option…it was a ‘gimme’. There we sat…black and white (stop coughing- old school cowboy ‘we will never unite’ readers…it is true…serious…no really…black AND white), and discussed our future paths. The paths indeed differed, however the destination was predominantly ‘home’.
I must be the first to admit that I am not some ‘the world is made of candy floss and bunnies’ hippie, that feels if we all just took the time to hug the person next to us, that the world would be a better place. I am fully aware of the issues faced by our nation daily, and am fully aware of factors such as crime, HIV, and the stigma attached to being ‘African’. However, jeepers what an awesome feeling to know that I am indeed an African.
I keep stressing myself as to being part of a ‘lucky generation’ and hell yes I am. No country in the world can speak as openly about issues such as race, discrimination, and the importance of a decent fast bowler in our cricket side than a Saffa, and we are all the better for it. We have transcended from an era of being held back with regards to discussion and thought, to one that is now hailed as a model of developing democracy in its finest form (I stress ‘Developing’ as I can feel the rage ascending in that cowboy now). Yes, I know we have issues, however what other country can boast as far as we have come?
I have traveled and seen places that are supposed to be what South Africa ‘should’ strive to be. I have seen the first world, and with it its fantastic public transport systems (*cough* splutter*…1 x Saffa taxi over London underground anyday thanks), yet still think that South Africa has more potential than these pantheons of first world society.
So I leave you with this…I will indeed come home (very soon in fact), print out my CV and get in line. So dad prep the grid, mom please pack the sarnies for the cricket, and gents make sure that the Labels are cold.
I realise the going will be tough and the issues faced by South African daily are real. However…I am also Saff-nised enough to realise that we are the best damn individuals on the planet, blessed to be part of this era in our history, and that in while not perfect with regards to our domestic issues, we are the envy of many…and, regardless of any pessimistic old grouches telling me otherwise, there is no rather place that I would rather end up.