No welcome-home party for expats

2010-03-20 15:35

By Babalwa Shota

THIS week I spent most of my time at one with nature in

Limpopo. There were afternoon game drives topped by sunset picnics in the bush.

I watched a herd of elephants taking dust baths while some of the

young males played rough with each other.

Heck, I even witnessed a leopard being

released back into the wild after it had spent two months in captivity – a rare

experience, to say the least.

The leopard’s release, sponsored by a genteel old American couple

who came to South Africa to witness the event, was apparently a big deal.

I say

apparently because as the only black in the midst of white South Africans,

Germans, ­Canadians and Americans, I was probably the least interested in the


The sweet lady sponsor, a New York society madam with what appears

to be a really good facelift, made sure to mention at least three times how we

should drop some of our hard-earned cash into the donation box to help

­endangered wildlife.

This made me chuckle to myself, as I consider some of my family

members to be more in need of my R100 than some cheetah or leopard.

I’m talking

about brothers and sisters who have barely enough money to survive on after

paying for transport, school fees and other essentials.

Not that I’m much better off, but at least I have the magical

plastic money that sees me through the month.

Now I hear that white former South Africans are flocking back to

the country. This makes me alternate between anger and despair.

For heaven’s

sake, we are barely making a living here and these people are coming to take the

little that we’ve got! Yes, these ­people! They are the ones who will be

blocking our steady climb up the corporate ladder ­because they have “overseas

work experience” and speak with nasal accents.

These same people who cited black economic empowerment and

affirmative action as the reasons for leaving this country are coming back to

set up businesses here and keep my brothers and sisters as maids and security


I say this because I have witnessed how a “person of colour” can

stay in one job for years, earning a pittance while doing the work of a senior

although this is not reflected in their salary.

Then in strolls Anna and ­Piet with their New Zealand and Australia

“work experience” to become managers, while the darkie is actually the one who

has to show them the ropes and teach them their job.

These are the same people whose parents built bunkers under their

homes when political parties were unbanned and

Nelson Mandela was freed. The

same people who stocked up on baked beans and other tinned stuff when the first

democratic elections took place. Yes, I’m talking to you!

When all of you left, your fellow pessimists spoke of a brain

drain; how South Africa was going to the dogs and would ­become “the next


You know who you are; bad-mouthing us to your new friends Down Under,

talking about how “corrupt” the new government is and reminiscing about the good

old days when you were called baas, klein baas and missus.

Guess what? We don’t need you in our country.

We don’t want

hypocrites who have never cared about the “darkie” game of soccer, yet now

cannot wait to peddle their businesses to the foreigners who will be visiting

our shores for that same game.

Those white people who stuck it out with the rest of us are the

real South Africans.

We all worked together to stop the haemorrhaging of skills,

built each other up and worked hard to keep our country a shining example of

­democracy in Africa.

Now you say you miss home? Bull! You are opportunists who couldn’t

make it in strange lands because life there is not as cushy as here in SA, where

you still consider yourselves the superior race.

I hope ­Julius Malema hurries up and becomes the next president of

this country. That way I know you scaredy cats will be vacating the country in

droves again.

And maybe, ­finally, I can get the house in Linden I’ve been

dreaming of for a fraction of the price as you sell everything in a panic.


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