#LoveIsNotTourism: Man abroad writes to Ramaphosa seeking to reunite with his South African love

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An airport staff member looks out to a grounded SAA aircraft on the runway at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
An airport staff member looks out to a grounded SAA aircraft on the runway at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
PHOTO: Alon Skuy/Gallo Images
  • A man living in Germany has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, seeking to reunite with his South African love.
  • Manazir Islam has not seen his soulmate, Alicia, since January.
  • Islam is asking government to consider international tourism under Level 1 of the lockdown so that he and many others can be reunited with their partners.

A non-South African residing in Germany has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to restart international tourism under lockdown Level 1 so that he can be reunited with his South African love.

Manazir Islam wrote: 

I am not only speaking for myself of course. There are over a thousand other unmarried, binational couples who have been separated from their loved ones in South Africa for at least half a year.

Islam argued that unmarried, binational couples should be given the opportunity – under Level 1 of the lockdown – to reunite with their loved ones, even if there was limited international travel.

"Unfortunately, the virus will stay with us for [some time] but life must go on, and that includes international travel as well. We have adapted ourselves to the 'new normal' and in the same way, we must adapt to that when it comes to travelling between countries and continents," he explained.

Islam further pleaded with the president to consider the right to love when the country approaches Level 1 of the lockdown so that "we can return to the arms of those we love within this year".

"Our partners are waiting for us in South Africa and we would love to be with them soon please.

"Love knows no races or colours or religions or borders or nationalities. Travelling for love should always be essential and love will always win in the end," he said.

South Africa – which went into lockdown in March – is currently on Level 2 of the lockdown. Although restrictions have been eased, international travel remains prohibited.

READ | Covid-19 travel restrictions devastate Africa's tourism

Many non-South Africans abroad with partners in South Africa have not been able to see their loved ones in the country.

This has sparked the online campaign #LoveIsNotTourism SA, which calls on governments to make it easy for stranded couples to travel and reunite with their loved ones.

Islam met his partner Alicia* – who he refers to as his soulmate – in June 2019, while he was visiting Cape Town for the second time.

He told News24:

We followed each other on Instagram before I was in Cape Town, but we never talked or knew one another before. But during my visit, she contacted me and we started talking and texting every day, and soon afterwards we fell in love.

Alicia told News24 the last time she saw Islam was on 9 January 2020, after he visited her in Cape Town for a month.

"It was very hard to say goodbye and little did we know that our future plans to see each other would be delayed by something out of our control."

While it is not ideal, the couple are able to stay in touch through the internet and modern technology.

"We are always in touch via WhatsApp, from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, every single day and it is not just texting, but also voice notes, phone calls, and video chats.

"This helps the time to fly by and helps with our patience to wait for that moment to come when we can finally see each other in Cape Town again," Islam said.

*Not her real name

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