My first year of retirement has been great and I’ve loved every moment of my new life. To find myself at this age in good health and in the most beautiful part of the world is a privilege. Some might disagree with the latter statement because of the precarious situation in which my country finds itself but although South Africa is fraught with problems I really can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Many of my friends and some of my family have left her shores to ‘better’ their lives and to ensure their children have better opportunities. They’re sick of the crime, the unemployment, the falling rand and the destruction of the infrastructure. They complain about the drop in the standard of education, poor health service and a corrupt government. All these are valid reasons to Pack for Perth or some other neat place where there won’t be too much of a culture shock. But many choose to stay right here and struggle on.
Recently one of our most politically correct radio talk show hosts declared that for the first time ever he’d begun to lose hope for our country. His usual positive attitude to working together for a brighter future dimmed horribly. And it was all to do with the many damaging things our president has done and a despondent belief that he still would not be voted out. There is so much to make one despair and oh I wish that there was more building up and less destruction of our new democracy. I wish that Corruption would end and Integrity would reign. The signs are there that the country is heading straight down the drain – going the way of Zimbabwe and that there is nothing we can do to stop it. I am not a particularly political animal. I tend to go with the flow and look on the bright side but I do fear for our future. I’m glad that I’m on the wrong side of youth and know that by the time the country has reached self-destruction I will be on my way to the grave. But what about my grandchildren?
Well hasn’t every generation worried about the next? But it is now up to that next generation to make a difference. Is rushing off to seek new horizons the answer – for the individual, maybe. But for the future of this amazing country – no! We need the next generation to make a difference. We need them to vote out the corrupt politicians and get the good ones in. We need them to become entrepreneurs and create the jobs. The brain-drain is real and if they all trek off to other countries will it really be all that much better? I am so relieved to hear about young people returning even when they’ve done well overseas. And why? I hear them saying – they still have faith that things will improve in South Africa. They do want to be here to make a difference. They’re prepared to give it a go and deal with the problems. Education, they tell me, is not so amazing in Australia, England, America and Canada. All these countries have their problems – so they’re prepared to face their indigenous ones rather than battle against the devil the do not know. Welcome back, I say to them. And I understand the deeper reasons why they return.
It’s not only because they miss their families – it’s South Africa itself that they miss. It’s the very fabric of the people, the different cultures
the vibrancy, the weather and the wildness.
They miss The Springboks and The Proteas, the accent, the braaivleis, the boerewors and the biltong.
They miss the sunsets
and the beaches,
and the bushveld
The rhythms of Africa beat strongly in their hearts.
And when they return and see Table Mountain there is a deep stirring in their emotions and they know they are home where they belong!
I don’t believe all our expats should return – many have made good overseas and are perfectly happy. They love to come home on holiday and that’s enough. I wish them luck and prosperity and know they will always hold us all in their hearts as we hold them in ours.
And I will continue to adapt as the country changes be it for better or worse. I will continue to enjoy what the country has to offer and make the most of the South African Lifestyle.