I’m finding this series so incredibly interesting. Taking a deeper look into the hearts and minds of South African parents is a wonderful reminder of how we all adore our nation. THAT is never and will never become the debate.
Todays story is told from the view-point of a mom who, as a family, have decided that they will be embarking on an adventure and beginning a life abroad. I love the way she shares her story and how at the end she says :
“We are taking our kids on an adventure to show them they are citizens of the world and they can choose who they identify with most.”
This is such a great interview! Over to you Sanchia – Thank you for sharing with us today.
* Where were you born and have you always lived in South Africa? Or are you living abroad now?
My husband and I were both born in South Africa. Both our families have international backgrounds: UK, Ireland, Argentina, Mozambique and the Netherlands.
Both my husband and I grew up in South Africa. When we completed university we went on our overseas adventure mostly to London to work as well as travelling around the world. I spent 7 years abroad and my husband 5 years.
We have been living in South Africa for the past 10 years and will be moving overseas in July.
* How old are your children?
Our kids are 7 and 6.
* Were you living here during the apartheid years and the 1994 elections? Were you feeling hopeful for our nation then?
Yes, I grew up in the apartheid era. I went to a private high school in Durban so although our school was open to all races, not everyone could afford the school. To be honest, I didn’t really know what it was all about. We had a domestic worker and a gardener. They were treated as part of the family but I knew they lived in a very different situation to us. I remember once hearing about my friend’s domestic worker who was threatened with her life by her neighbours because they saw her sitting in the front seat next to her â€˜madam’. Other than that I had a naive childhood sheltered from the politics of the country. I became aware of what was going on in high school especially when Mandela was released and the group areas act was abolished. It was very exciting to vote in my first election in 1994!
* How are you feeling about our country now? What are some of your very real fears and concerns?
I have to say that I don’t feel very optimistic about the current leadership of our country. I love South Africa, it’s people, culture and lifestyle. The current government is letting it down in a bad way. I worked in an NGO and listened to the women describe their day-to-day lives. We were assisting them with setting up small businesses they could run. The battle they have everyday to make small improvements in their lives is monumental. The government is doing very little to help these people. The country is relying on the private sector to uplift the rest of the country and it is not sustainable. I saw this first hand and it is so difficult to ignore.
Everyday, I am overwhelmed by the poverty I see in people around me. What is being done to assist these people from our current government? I help where I can but it really feels like such a small drop in the ocean.
I fear for my children’s future. We are labelled privileged and we are targeted because of this privilege. Naturally, I want to be able to give my children better opportunities than I had but I feel guilty for wanting this and worry that my children will be targeted in a harsher way than we are.
I fear the education levels are slipping. I realise that what is currently going on at UCT is not a reflection of what is going to happen in a few years time but should we need/want to send our children to universities overseas there are some that are already refusing entry to South African educated students. Another concern is should we want to send our kids to study overseas, how will we afford it with our current exchange rates and economy.
I worry about our safety, especially when my husband travels on business.
* How do these feelings affect your family and your day-to-day life? Are you anxious about their future?
For the most part, I have tried to shield my kids from my fears. I want them to have as an authentic experience of their home as possible. They do pick up on my nervousness when my husband is away and we all sleep in one bed together. We have spoken to them about moving overseas and have presented it as the adventure we see it to be. They are super excited. We have not put South Africa down in any way as we may return one day and it is our home in which we have spent many happy years.
* What are some of the things you know you will never be able to find anywhere else in the world, the things that would make it hard to leave?
The people. There is a soul to the people of South Africa that you can’t find elsewhere. There is a great sense of humor which is unique. And a warmth when you chat to a stranger or catch someone’s eye.
The beauty. Our country is beautiful and diverse. The sunshine, the smell of rain after a highveld thundershower, South African design, arts and culture. Dusty red sunsets with sundowner in hand. Walking in the Drakensberg. The smell of the bush. Rhinos, hadedas calling, warthogs, leopards, knysna loeries, giraffe, dung beetles, lilac-breasted rollers, zebra, hornbills:::::::.
* Have you ever been a victim of crime?
Thankfully no. However, I have been affected by crime. My very close friend was attacked on a run and 3 months later, my sister-in-law’s father was murdered by intruders. Both incidents affected me deeply. As a bystander it was traumatising to go through. To see how crime can affect every aspect of your life is crippling. I understand why and how people put on a brave face and carry on but the underlying ripple effects of these incidents are felt far and wide. Not enough is being done to prevent crime. It starts on so many levels and they are not being addressed. Burglar bars, alarm systems and private security companies are not the cure…
* Do you still have faith in South Africa, that with new leaders we could see a drastic change? What other dreams do you have for our country?
I really want a new leadership to come into effect. They would have to be incredibly strong and ethical in order to sort out the current mess.
I would love to see a strong identity created for South Africans, so that we can see ourselves as one people. You get a glimpse of this when you work overseas. In the UK, Saffas are regarded as hard-working, fun, happy and capable people.
*How do you think we can teach our children to be hopeful and positive while still teaching them to cautious living in a place that isn’t always safe? (Without putting fear in their hearts and minds.)
I struggle with this. I realise that no matter where you are in the world there will always be dangers that kids may encounter. I also think that you can’t helicopter parent as kids need room to develop on their own. Where we are going the kids still ride their bikes to school or walk on their own. They can take public transport on their own as it is safe (my kids have never caught a bus or train). My kids feel they can do all of this here but it is my own fears and worries that prevent them from doing this.
* What are the lessons you want to teach your kids and how do you think staying or leaving will channel those lessons?
I want my children to be able to pursue anything they are passionate about. I don’t want their future determined by politics and trying to prove themselves to others because of their skin colour.
We are taking our kids on an adventure to show them they are citizens of the world and they can choose who they identify with most. We are open to the fact they may make choices that are different to ours in terms of where they would like to live but for now we don’t feel that South Africa provides them with enough freedom to pursue their childhoods.
I hope you enjoyed hearing form another perspective and can resonate with her on some level. I know i can!
Don’t forget to follow this link for other interviews in the series Do we stay or leave our beloved South Africa? You may also enjoy Why we are staying in South Africa for the kids by Julie Williams, if you haven’t read it already.
Don’t forget to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to feature!