As a regular reader of the South African news website, News24, I have become aware of a new type of “conflict” that now exists among South Africans… as if life’s day-to-day challenges aren’t enough to keep everyone busy.
The conflict I am talking about is between South African expats and non-expats in the MyNews24 (letters) section of News24. And at times, it gets downright nasty!
In the past, every now and again, some expat would write a letter talking about their new life outside South Africa. They would touch on the positive aspects of their new life, which would also usually be the exact opposite of the reasons they left South Africa.
Then followed the inevitable comments… some sympathetic to the author, but others… oh boy… according to them, the author is a chicken and a no-good traitor who ran away from South Africa and without whom South Africa is so much better off!
Now News24 seems to have opened the floodgates by openly inviting expats to write about their experiences as expats. They did, and so did the anti-expat commentators!
Out of all this, five groups of people seem to have emerged:
- The expats who have already left South Africa. They feel that South Africa does not currently offer them and their children a viable future due to various reasons. Some left South Africa simply looking for a better future, while others have left with hatred in their hearts due to their personal experiences (perhaps having been victims of crime). Almost all miss some aspects of South Africa though, especially if they have still family living there.
- Expats-to-be: Those who are still in South Africa, but who are in the process of immigrating. Their views on South Africa are pretty much the same as the expats… or else, why bother immigrating?
- Expat-wannabes: Those who share the views of the expats and expats-to-be and want to immigrate, but can’t immigrate for some reason, usually a lack of immigration options or money.
- The Neutrals: They may not be very happy with some aspects of the current South Africa, but they have no immigration plans. They try to be generally positive, or they simply ignore the negative, and hope that things in South Africa will improve. They try to get on with their lives. Expats don’t bother them. They might not agree with the expats, and might say so, but they generally remain courteous.
- Expat-haters: The words say it all. Nothing an expat says is good or worth considering. Expats are the slime of society. South Africa is better off without them, and their new countries are worse off for their presence, never mind that expats usually take some valuable skills along with them. Included in this group are also those who hate white people, plain and simple, and who love Julius Malema.
It is the last group, the expat-haters, that intrigues me.
If you read a letter written by an expat who was asked to, or decided to write about his or her experiences as an expat, what do you expect he or she will say? Will he write about how good he had in South Africa? Maybe (and fair enough, it can’t all be bad), but there will likely be some negative stuff too. They left the country, afterall!
Why all the hate? Why are they so unwilling to acknowledge that all might not be well and damn anyone who says it? Are they perhaps closet-expat-wannabes?