Who has it better?

In 1995 my family picked up and moved to Vancouver Canada. Having never left South Africa, my brother and I were very excited at the grand adventure we were undertaking.

A few short months later. we were homesick, stressed, lost, and completely out of our depth in a completely foreign world. The weather pathetic, morals completely lacking to what we were used to, and just about every faced of life foreign to us.

For about a decade, I was angry. I missed my home, and hated living amongst these "wussies" as my father loves to call them. Everything was different, and the one thing that my family loves, sport, was as familiar to us as honesty is to a politician. Basketball? I'd rather watch paint dry. American football, fat guys playing about five minutes of really boring interference. Baseball? Fat guys with buckets on their hands to make life easier. Yes, easier. Everything here seemed to be designed to make things easier.

Ice hockey was the only sport that piqued my interest. It was fast and exciting, but that alone was not enough to keep me from being angry at the world and people I now lived with.

I love South Africa. I have been far around the world since leaving South Africa for the first time. No other place I have been can match the sheer beauty. The land sky and sea is truly one of a kind. I dream about living back home on a regular basis. Especially now that I have moved to Winnipeg, where in winter it can be colder than -50 with wind chill.

I come "home" as often as I can, and it breaks my heart to see what our cities and cultures have become. There are people trying hard to make it a great place, but unfortunately, there are more people trying hard to make their own lives better at the expense of others.

I take my hat off to those who could leave but choose to stay, and I have even more respect for those who cannot leave, and continue to fight to make it a better South Africa.

It has been over 15 years since I left South Africa, and I have lost that anger towards Canada and the world I now live in. However, I have not lost the love of my true home. I still dream of the day I can come back to South Africa, where the violence has mostly dissipated, and people get along together.

The sometimes less than ideal services and state of the economy I can live with. However, violence I cannot. My seven-month-old son is way too important to me to endanger.

I have now struggled to carve out a life for me here, and although I now make good money, and have all the niceties in life, I still yearn for fishing off the rocks, going to a cricket game, or having a braai with family on a hot summer day. I would give up the money and niceties to live in a small home near the sea, with my family around me.

Count yourselves lucky to enjoy these things that most of the rest of the world can never even understand. I envy you in South Africa, I truly do. If you can live without the fear of robbery rape or murder, and are lucky enough to not have it happen to you, then there truly is no better place to live.  However for me, we only have one life, and I plan to live as long as I can, and for my family to be safe.

I don't really have a choice to return home permanently. I am not qualified for anything, and would struggle to get a job there. We do not have huge savings, and no longer have the safety net of family there, as most have moved away, or passed on. Only a few remain, and the pictures we see make us yearn for home even more, while the stories of horror and near misses make us thankful we are safe.

Who has it better? Those who truly love their country and have moved away for the sake of their family or those who stay despite the high crime and corruption, and enjoy the wonderful beauty of the land?  I don't know. But what I do know is I wish I could come back to the South Africa I knew, but with the entire country living as one.

Hopefully in this case, time can heal all wounds.
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