Why are you still here?

No, dear readers. This isn’t a question for you. 
We all know why you’re still here. It’s the almost ethereal, magical, magnetic attraction of the prose you read on these pages. It’s a completely understandable and excusable addiction.
No, this was a question I was asked by the Molton Brown Boys over a particularly tasty curry at Bihari last night. I guess it’s at this point that I should explain that the Molton Brown Boys are a group of friends that get together for a curry and a beer every so often and discuss everything from Borat through to cement statistics.
We were drawn together by our shared outlook on life and our penchant for fine soaps. Deal with it.

So – why are I still here?

The question was posed, I believe, in response to the current “bad news” vibe in South Africa and my ability, as a UK citizen, to up and run back to the safety of Blighty at any time. Why would I want to stay?

Let’s look at the bad news: electricity shortages, crime*, bloody awful customer service. Sure, they’re huge issues – especially those first two. If you’re samzn0, then you’ve obviously had a particularly bad couple of weeks in January and the third one is a big problem too.
But if you want to complain about something else, then you actually have to dig a bit. You could moan about the Government, but some would argue that in many respects, they’re doing a pretty decent job – it’s politics and no-one ever agrees about politics.
You could moan about the inflation and interest rates, and it is a real drain on one’s finances each month, but these growing pains come with a developing economy and frustratingly high oil prices.
You could moan about Bafana Bafana’s exit from the Afcon tournament, but they got drawn in the Group of Death – Senegal are out too. Who’d have thunk it?  

No, life isn’t always easy here, but then is it always easy elsewhere? You see, I believe that wherever you run to, you’ll still find problems and drawbacks. Maybe not as acute and as pressing as those here, but irritating and frustrating, nevertheless.
Examples? Is Gordon Brown everyone’s cup of tea? How much is a litre of petrol in London? And what are England’s footballers doing this summer?

There’s always the plus side. The bit that some people in South Africa (and virtually everyone on that appalling internet forum) try to bury under all the bad stuff. And yes, there are also plus sides wherever else you go in the world as well.
I’m not stupid. I keep an eye on the news and what I see and hear “on the street”. I’m aware of the challenges SA faces now and in the future.
But perhaps part of the lure of SA is the rollercoaster ride between the bad news (which is often pretty bad) and the good bits, which are actually exceptionally good.

There’s the weather, the lifestyle, the food, the scenery, the braais.
There’s the people, the smiles, the optimism, the hope, the World Cup(s). 

It’s hard to define the experience of living in South Africa right now. If one were only to review the newspapers and the news websites (like the people on that forum do), then one would get a horribly skewed version of the country. Actually living here, it’s not like that at all. I’m typing this in a brightly lit room on a PC which is working absolutely fine. I haven’t been murdered today.
Note that I’m not making any claims about customer service though.

One must take the rough with the smooth. And the smooth in South Africa more than makes up for the rough.
I’m staying put, thank you very much.

* Interestingly, the moaning about crime has dropped significantly since the recent round power cuts began. Evidently, even your highly-trained, seasoned moaner can run out of negativity.

  • this is a good post. globus approves of molton brown also. living anywhere overseas has its fair share of downsides. just think, you are missing some splendid blizzards and inclement weather right now, poor you eh. have a good weekend, sunshine.

  • You left out that you want Alex to grow up with a really cool accent. That has to be a reason.

  • Rob

    Perhaps we’d be a happier nation if we all thought like this. Perhaps not but it’s probably worth a try. Thanks.

  • Jesper van Ketts

    Agree entirely with your views and with Rob too.

    No offence, but it’s just a shame that it takes a foreigner to work this out and be bold enough to publicly say it.

    Great stuff.

  • Dani

    So simple, yet so true. This seems so heartfelt. Well said.

  • StickBoy

    Agree with the above posters. It takes balls to say this kind of thing openly in SA right now.

    Great objective writing and well done for swimming against the tide.

  • LOL.

    I wish more South Africans would read your post and be as optimistic as you.

    As a Saffa living overseas, I am more than happy to defend my beautiful country when it comes under verbal attack from foreigners. At heart, I will always be a South African, not matter where I live or what passport I carry. I will always support the Boks, Bafana Bafana, The Sharks (and Tottenham).

    But why would I give up the comfort and oppurtunity that I have where I am now to move back to a country with an uncertain future, where my kids have no future, where it’s tough to find work unless you have contacts and where you may or may not have electricty from one day to another? How many people can afford to buy a first home? How many can even afford to buy a bicycle?

    Just ‘cos living in SA is better than living in the UK, doesn’t make it perfect. Speak to any Saffa living overseas and they’ll pretty much tell yo the same thing. The love SA, they love going home for a cheap holiday and a braai, but they’ll never move back.

  • globus – I miss that weather. Seriously.

    koosh – you spelt “daft” incorrectly.

    Rob – I don’t want people to think I’m glossing over the problems. They exist and they need sorting. But doing that shouldn’t occupy every moment of our lives.

    Jesper – I think people here are conditioned to think that way.

    Dani – Honest, yes.

    Stickboy – see my comments to Rob & Jesper.

    Del – Your support of Spurs is concerning. But I disagree that your kids have no future here. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The elctricity thing is a problem, but we’ve seen it to a lesser or greater extent in China, India, the US, even the UK over the past years. And as for buying your first home – name me a country where that is easy.
    Finally, of the many Saffas I know in the UK, I have noticed a lot moving back here. (3 families in the last 6 months alone). The transition is hard, but it’s possible and they are happy to be back here – despite the challenges.
    Talking of challenges – how’s the little one?

  • Rush

    Thanks. I really thought I was the only happy person in Cape Town, after reading some forums with locals moaning about everything and living miserable lives. It’s not even about being optimistic, but about running your own life and making your own decisions about where you live. I really love Cape Town, the lifestyle, the weather, La Med, camps bay…etc. and of Table Mountain.Sure its not perfect but I don’t think it would be or ever should be.

    For all the miserable people, take charge of your own life and….move to perth.

  • Rush – you sound like Charles Nqakula. But I’m finding myself agreeing with his sentiments in some respects. People have the right to complain, but equally, people must be more proactive and do their bit. I don’t see many of them doing that right now.

  • Rush

    I certainly don’t want people to just pack up and leave if they’re not happy. But there does come a time when moaning any further doesn’t help. There is much to love about this country, but if people can’t find the fulfilling lives they search for in this country with all its problems, then perhaps its best for them and their families to consider moving elsewhere. Its not unpatriotic, and its not turning your back on your country. Moaning for years and making excuses doesn’t lower crime or the high fencing around our jhb house.

    Crime affects everybody, and if a person in particular is assaults or seriously harmed by crime, then they’re free to pack and go, but at least they are making a decision about whats best for their life.

    As much as I love CT and RSA, there is so much more out there in the big wide world, for some people, moving abroad might just be the right move.

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