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Being a foreigner

19 July 2013, 23:27


I worked for the Government in South Africa for many years. Then, after 1994, the ANC took over the Government structures. I was transferred to a regional office of my choice. I “worked” there for 18 months and resigned due to the fact that, during this period, there was nothing for me to do. The Directors and Chief Directors were given the choice to stay on or leave with a big money offer to go (more than a normal severance package). Most took the package but stayed on as advisors. I soon found that due to affirmative action, I would be out of work for long periods.

My wife and I decided to move to a new Country, after a work permit was granted to my wife. We soon found out that although her profession was in demand, mine was in a different category and I found it once more difficult to find work. Like many compatriots, I have tried many different things believing that I would find a suitable job in due course.  I, inter alia, stocked shelves at a local Superstore for 10 months during the night, worked at a “toy library” and also for an asylum team for 6 months. When I worked at the Superstore, I worked with a person, a so-called failed-asylum seeker, the latter being paid more than me and receiving Government benefits (for example child and housing benefits). I soon find out that, on entering the country legally, you need to wait for 5 years to qualify for Government benefits.

I bought a second hand Peugeot, a ladder and drove on a daily basis to one of the major cities to do “handyman” jobs (mostly paint jobs) for rich South Africans. The jobs I got were mostly through fellow countrymen and not through submitting my CV. I found out what it was to be a foreigner in a country. You could almost have been an alien on planet earth. Patriotism and perception stand in the way of many Countries accepting and respecting foreigners. This was a cultural shock and underlines the national consciousness in all societies.

Foreigners, in my opinion, are seldom trusted and acceptance is the exception rather than the norm. Globalization and especially the Internet help in the demolishing of foreign cultural boundaries, but local economic constraints and unemployment on the other hand make people antagonistic towards foreigners putting the whole foreign issue in equilibrium again. I am now back in South Africa with the knowledge that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Viva South Africa!

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