Expat Haters....please dont!

2014-11-11 13:11

I’m as South African as the tert in melk and Mrs Ball’s blatjang on babotie. Top of the chops to pap and chakalaka and I know one end of a bunny chow from a slap chip. Before the Tim Noaks trend, my suitcase out of OJ Tambo was filled with packets of PandP-No-Name samp and beans, Jelly Tots, custard powder and those caramel chocolate bars that tell people.... P.S. you’re sorry, that you love them, better luck next time and all that.

Trevor Noah is terrific and I’d stand in line any day (as we did in May), for four hours in 50-degree heat to vote for dear DIYSuzelle as Minister of Home Affairs in a general election. After all, every home needs to know how to make strelitzias out of koffiefilters and how to put the O-vok-fire out when the braaipaai is baked. We followed Oscar with distant interest and have our opinions, which no one wants to hear, for surely there are enough of them out there.

As a mostly boy and few-girl family, Super 14 shouts loudly, loaded with beer and biltong over the weekends and we held an all night vigil with morbid vuvuzela’s when the Sharks were eaten by the Lions a few weeks ago.

Ag, shame.

We mutter at Bafana’s antics while we sit silent to hear OUR National Anthem and mean it with every sinew in our souls when they sing Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika.

God bless Africa. Indeed. Please.

Ja-Nee. I’m proudly, puff-ed up proudly,


Even though we don’t live there.

And haven’t for the last 17 years.

Which in some countries is more than four times the amount of time needed to get A.N.Other passport. That highly coveted get-me-one travel accessory we all want because our green mamba is part of the spitting species that few around the world welcome visa free and with langarms. We haven’t lived anywhere that considered us worthy of citizenship so we still have dem green babies and if you think Malusi Gigaba’s Ministry of Home Affairs is vol fiemies, try getting a visit visa from a highly prestigious country there on top of the America’s.

Ooh eh eh!

This is not just one small cap of patience and perseverance. Getting a visa, to anywhere, for whatever reason, takes a bakkie load of tenacity, careful maneuvering, sometimes distance and interviews - not to mention cost. Eina!

We do best to pick vacations around visa-less countries that like us. Bangladesh, Armenia, Iran.

Most times we just go home to holiday.

Yes, home. Ons vir jou Suid Afrika. Home where our hearts are. These hearts that have never stopped beating for die Boland, Bathurst and a boerie roll.

Always have, do now, and always will.

Home where we have family and a house and still pay taxes.

But please, please note all you EXPAT HATERS out there:

We did not leave to flee the flames of apartheid, muggings and meaningless murders. Nor affirmative action and the ANC or because the grass was greener over a septic tank in Tasmania. We like to make a difference wherever we are and if we were still in SA, rest assured we’d be doing our bit, whatever that looked like.

We left, quite simply because my husband was made a job offer he could not refuse.

In another country.

He was just following his career path. Quite the standard thing, I think, for a normal 40-somethinger to do.

And even if we did leave for other sadder, harsher, tragic and no option reasons, which some do, we each have our own stories to tell and paths to walk. We, as humans, do what we can and need to in order to survive, with whatever resources available to us. We live where we live because we are alive and just have to. There is a cost to living anywhere in the world. Some places have this. Others have that. A lot have neither – only an illusion. However we do all have to ability to choose, and if what we really really want is not an option, we still have the choice of how to react with that non-choice. And because you have the right to decide what you want to do with your life, so do we.

And that right should come without judgment or criticism.

So we did the best with what was offered to us, packed up our goeters and trekked from Durban to a country, still in Africa,  where we had more than a million servants – each with extra children for whom we were expected, as expats, to house, clothe and school - all for the privilege of being Mzungu. We beautifully bloomed where we were planted, as did our large property manned by two gardeners. We also endured power outages regularly. On one occasion for many-a-long night and day, consecutively. All because some oke, bless him, fell asleep on the job and forgot to flick the button that relieved the rain overflow in the river that turned the turbines that made the electricity. Too much water flowing out=no turning turbines=no power. For two weeks. And that came with the side order of no water either.

Ja, well, no, fine. TIA after all.

We no longer live on the Mother Continent but have moved on to a drier and dustier sandpit. Again our choice, but governed by the fact we needed/wanted to tertiary educate two boys in the international arena. And for expats that’s a big kak-en-betaal. Actually for anyone tertiary education is a necessary kak-en-betaal. This place with its glitz and glamour and tax free salaries can be hard and harsh and the extreme heat keeps us, for many months, behind pulled curtains and firmly closed doors. Even though we seldom, if ever, have to lock them.

We have a few more years to do here. We’re making the best of them until retirement.

Which will surely be spent on a South African stoep somewhere, loving the veld and vlei, whilst dunking our boerebeskuit into rooibos tea.

Yes please, thank you and dankie.

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AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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