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Harboring resentment

13 December 2010, 07:23  - James
Dear Editor,

I left South Africa four years ago for the UK.
The reasons I left are the same as have been mentioned many times by other expats.
This is not however why I write this letter.
It is amazing to me that there still seems to be a general lack of understanding from both the expat letter writers and the South Africans living in the country as to the motives of the expats for writing the letters.
The reason why expats still write letters is the fact that South Africa will always be your motherland ("heimat" as the Germans term it) and you will never stop caring about her. Nobody in his right mind chooses to leave his country of birth at age 40, with his wife and teenage kids, loses the vast majority of his wealth via the horrendous exchange rate and restart his life as a nobody in an adopted country with two suitcases of belongings per person.
The problems for expats are the extreme disillusionment with the government and the feeling of intense alienation from the ruling class. We will never be viewed as indigenous to Africa, regardless of how many centuries your family has been in the country.
I believe it is anger about being forced to leave the country of their birth which is causing expats to make statements like "we don't care about the country anymore" and "good luck to the people who will still face the night of the long-knives". All of us still secretly long to come back to a country which has decent behaviour in its citizens and where opportunities exist for all its people (read "no more institutionalised racism against its European component").
But we realise this will never happen and harbour a lingering intense feeling of resentment.
I believe the white people living in South Africa currently will be the de facto last white component of any significant numbers. Thirty years from today, the majority of the population will form 98% of the total population. Whites in South Africa will be like those of Zimbabwe, who have faded into insignificance and keep their heads down to avoid being singled out for any and all ills experienced by the country.
What we are experiencing is equal to the Diaspora experienced by the Jewish people after the Second World War, except for us there is no Israel to go to. We will be absorbed, like the Rhodesians, into the population of which ever country we go to.
This is the way it is.
- Are you a South African living abroad interested in sharing your views? What is it like for a South African living in a foreign country or how do you view South Africa from a distance? Send us your columns to and you might get published in our new Beyond Borders section.

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