He does make some very valid points. Where do you go? Life is very different, sometimes very hostile and very difficult no matter which destination you choose. I wonder how many South Africans are returning. My anecdotal evidence suggests not many. It isn't a common theme around the dinner table in my corner of the universe.
What is telling, though, is his concluding remark, that South Africa will become the new Zimababwe. If that is true, which I have no reason to doubt, why would Saffers return to South Africa? Is it a case of "Better the Devil you knew".
I was only paying scant attention to the radio while shaving this morning but I’m sure I heard a news story about white South Africans returning to this country in droves. The news bulletin suggested that, for many of them, it’s because they want to. “Bollocks” I thought to myself as I splashed on some bracing after shave and went in search of breakfast.
I gave a speech last week at a very enjoyable all male lunch party. The guests were all successful businessmen and over brandy and cigars the subject of emigration came up. The real puzzler these days is not whether to go but where to go. A decade ago it was easy. You decided that South Africa had no future under the ANC and tried to get Canadian, Australian or US citizenship. Or you rummaged through the family papers in the hope of finding that your grandmother held an Irish passport which might entitle you to one. Pretty well everywhere looked a better bet for a whitey than South Africa under the spiteful, racist presidency of Thabo Mbeki. The Mandela magic had worn off long ago and replaying the rugby victory of 1995 over and over again wasn’t convincing anyone that the country was destined for future greatness.
The UK was an obvious choice for anyone with a British passport and a bit of money. All you had to do then was find a job that would give you the same standard of living you enjoyed in South Africa. If you were able to speak a foreign language you could choose to live in sunnier parts of Europe and escape the constant grey skies of the UK.
The US was also a possibility (unless your middle name was Mohammed) and they even ran a green card ballot for those keen to escape to the land of opportunity. Prior to 9/11 it looked a pretty good bet but the attack on New York made it clear that nowhere is immune to attack.
Plenty of people packed for Perth and went off to a new life in what is probably one of the most boring places on planet Earth; once described as Bloemfontein on sea although I think that’s being a bit unkind to Bloemfontein. The early emigrants to Australia who left during the first wave of panic in the eighties managed to get in and buy property before the boom. But anyone arriving from the mid nineties onwards would have found it difficult to buy a half decent property for a multiple of what their South African home would have fetched. And there are the Australians to consider. Delightful people individually but as a nation they are the most anally retentive folk outside of Switzerland. Your neighbour is your policeman and if you don’t put your green bottles in the correct wheelie bin he’ll probably report you to the authorities. You don’t really need traffic wardens in Oz because if you have stopped on a yellow line (as I once did) an Australian will come up to you and say “You can’t park there mate” and give you a lecture on how it’s your sort that cause anarchy and the breakdown of society. Anyway, who wants to live in a country where you can’t even bribe a traffic cop?
I had friends who emigrated to Canada but they were into mountaineering and skiing so that made sense. For anyone else it is worse than being a mole. Most of the year you are freezing and underground. On the upside there’s always….er…sorry, I can’t actually think of anything but I am sure there is an upside.
Even those who escaped during the golden years of the chicken run admit that it was a huge upheaval and life on the other side is far harder, even if you have some money. For example, you have to do your own laundry and mow your own lawn; concepts foreign to most white South Africans. When you pull in for petrol no-one comes up to fill your car, clean your windscreen, check your tyres and talk about football with you. It’s self service and the only person you will talk to is the miserable cashier in a glass booth. How dreary is that?
So it’s hardly surprising that South Africans are returning but it’s not necessarily because they want to. The global credit crunch has had a huge impact on the world and particularly the US and Europe. I know people who had romantic notions of wanting to go off and live on a Greek island. How smart would that be now? Spain and Portugal are also in serious financial trouble with high unemployment and Ireland, that great Celtic tiger of the nineties, is now a third world country. Britain is bankrupt and only hobbles along thanks to its relationship with fellow bankrupt, the US, and the knowledge that if Britain collapses then others will also fall. The economic prospects for the next ten years in the US and Europe are not great. Those returning South Africans are only doing what they have done before….leaving a sinking ship. Whether the prospects in South Africa for people with white skins are any better remains to be seen. If we’re really lucky we may have ten years left before we become the new Zimbabwe. But at least the sun shines.
Source: Richmark Sentinel