I’m just going to come right out and say it. I’m over this country. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Before you all start hounding me with the loyalty/patriotic/culture card let me add this: I love my country as much as the next person, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve lost all faith in it.
While these feelings have, no doubt, been brewing for years, they seem to have reached boiling point over the last few months as we hear horror story after horror story and watch our government make fools out of us.
For years we have watched crime escalate and our judicial system fail us. We have watched the news, read our newspapers, scrolled our face book feeds and heard it over the radio on our way to work. We have all heard the stories, seen the pictures and watched how justice is rarely served.
Yes, South Africa is a place with high levels of inequality, poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and marginalization and all these factors play a role, but factors that I believe are only getting worse. If these things are only getting worse, how can we expect murder, rape, kidnappings and hijackings to stop?
And so here my husband and I are again finding ourselves asking the very real and serious question: Should we pack up and move? Should we call it a day, pack up our lives, head for the States and give our children a better life?
I used to worry what people would think. I used to worry that my friends and family would see us as cowards, walking out on our country, our heritage. I used to worry that people would think I don’t trust God and that ultimately I don’t trust his calling on my life. That, for what its worth, couldn’t be further from the truth.
But now I’m starting to worry that people will judge us knowing that we had the opportunity to leave and decided against it. Now I’m beginning to wonder what kind of an injustice I am doing my kids if we have been offered a better life elsewhere, but instead chose to sink our feet deeper into our South African soil, trying desperately to believe that things will change. But will they, EVER change? Now I feel the dread build in my thoughts as I wonder what if something were to happen and its too late? What if I lose a child to crime? How would I ever forgive myself? I guess it doesn’t help that we have been hijacked twice. Yes, TWICE.
Now I get it, life is not always greener on the other side and I’m aware that no matter where we go, there are going to be challenges but the truth is simple really. Would I rather give up the help of a nanny/domestic (we are spoilt in this regard here in SA) or risk being hijacked? Would I rather sacrifice seeing family every day or end up in the boot of someone’s car and ultimately never seeing anyone EVER again? Or worse seeing something happen to one of my children?
In trying to weigh up the pros and cons and once again trying to grasp onto the last straws of hope, I have made a list of the things I know I would miss more than anything in the world. Maybe in writing these things out, for me to reflect on, will help me make better sense of what it is we need to do. I made this list first but let me first unpack the things I hate about this country. I know you are supposed to sandwich things to lighten the blow but heck im gonna get straight into it.
1.I despise racism in all its horrible forms. Speaking from a middle class white South African, I hate the way our black friends were previously treated and disadvantaged. Now to see all that hate being turned around to attack the white man and used to tear down a country is just too sad. Racism is still very much a threat to South Africa’s democracy. Do you know there is a small town in the Northern Cape that consists of whites only? It’s like apartheid all over again. Whatever the case, from whatever the angle, i’m sick of it and not sure I can handle another 16 years of trying to rebuild our nation into one that not would only make Mandela proud, but God proud!
2.I hate the fact that I have to look over my shoulder every time I leave my house. Walking to my car from the shops, leaving a friends house and strapping kids into the car, arriving at my folks place and taking them out the car, walking down Long Street at night, arriving home at any time of the day or night, walking on the beach or in the forests. I mean we have all these beautiful places yes but they are becoming less and less safe to visit.
I hate hearing a noise at night and fearing the worst. I hate wondering what I would do if I found myself in a situation where my families lives were at risk. I REALLY HATE CRIME!
3.I hate the fact that we have no faith in our police force. Although I’m sure there are still many who keep their oaths and live to serve and protect, its no newsflash that we have a bunch of monkeys running things around here. With dodgy cops and bribes being offered left right and centre its no surprise crime is on the up. I hate corruption and greed and the serious lack of integrity demonstrated by the people who should be protecting us.
I’m fully aware that there are places in the world far more dangerous than South Africa. Places where war is real and people are dying by the thousands. I am however looking at outweighing the odds of anything bad EVER happening to my children. I’m like a mother bear, willing to do anything to protect my young and I want to know that I am doing my best to ensure that they get the best opportunities presented to them. I want to know that when they leave school (with a higher grade education, which is unlikely here with the pass rate dropping every year) that they will have amazing opportunities to invest their skills in good jobs. Ones that they love and are passionate about.
Anyway, before you all go hating me for being such a killjoy and reminding you how hopeless things often seem, here is my list of pro’s:
I would miss my friends! I’m possibly one of the luckiest girls in this regard. I have solid groups of girl friends who I know are irreplaceable, Each of them in their own way offer me a unique and special friendship and I know that I could travel the world over and may never find friends that hold such a deep place in my heart.
- I would miss my family. We are close knit and overly reliant on each other. The kind that do weekly family dinners and see each other ever other day for tea or just a quick pop in. I see my sister in law up to three times a week sometimes where watch our children grow and learn together. I know that if we left I would be taking away something so special, that bond that only cousins share.
- I would miss my new home. While it’s in no way my big dream house, it’s our first piece of property we have ever owned and we are about to finish making it 100% our own by renovating our kitchen. Once we have done that, its possible we would own one of the most gorgeous (original and old) apartments in the Southern Suburbs. Yes that’s how much I love my home. It’s been such a special process and I couldn’t bare parting with it. It’s not only money we have invested in it, but a huge chunk of our hearts.
- I would miss all my favorite places: Kalk Bay for lunch, Kloof street for trendy shops, Forries for afternoon play dates with the girls and our huge entourage of kids, Houtbay for fish and chips (and Italian Ice-cream), Boulders beach for ocean swims in the summer, Cavendish movie dates, Boyes drive, Haiku for cream cheese and spinach dumplings, Cattle Baron for ChÃ¢teau Briand, Harbor House for sushi, Erawan for Thai food, and of course Some oaks/Barusos for the best Pizza on the planet.
- I would miss all life’s little pleasures: Afagatos at the creamery, woolies coffee, braai vleis, our delicious wines, our craft beers, biltong from the delhi in Newlands, proteas, rugby (even though I don’t always watch it)
- I would miss The mountain. No I’m not a hippy, but seriously, I would miss that beautiful mountain Every. Single. Day.
- I would miss watching my friend’s kids grow up. I would miss out on seeing them grow into little people and meet their different milestones. I don’t know why but that makes me sad.
- I would miss long weekends away at one of our many gorgeous and picturesque little towns right on our on our doorstep.
- I would miss our icy cold oceans and the beautiful Cape point where our two oceans collide.
- I would miss the conversations I have with people of this country, the multi cultural element of what it means living in South Africa today. I would miss the bright beautiful faces of the good people who are always striving to make a difference.
I realize these things are not all very important, but they are the things that, should we leave, are going to get me feeling home sick and longing for a place I will always call home. I’m not sure how I would feel looking at everyone’s Face book feeds and seeing pictures of my home country.
I guess we have a lot to think about and much to weigh up. All I can think about for now is that beautiful and cheesy saying, Home is where the heart is and hope that no matter where we feel our hearts are led that it will eventually and whole heartedly be called home.
* Please share your thoughts without getting too political and judgmental. I like to keep things clean around here.