There’s talk of emigration in the air

Remember when we used to hear that at all the dinner parties, the braais, on the television and in the papers?
The ZumaRumas™. The dangers of another ANC government. Chasing the whites out of the country. Murdered in our beds. How South Africa was going to become “another Zimbabwe”.
I never did get a firm date for any of those unfounded scare-mongering stories.
When I asked, I usually just got a hard stare over my wors and some mumbled excuse about needing another Castle Lite.

Sure, South Africa does have its problems. Many of them, in fact. Which is surely all the more reason for not adding more silly ones that you made up on the way to the party.
But why the exceptionalism? Because nowhere is perfect and everywhere you go, you’re going to face challenges. The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side of the fence. And if it is, it’s probably because of all the s**t that’s around over there.

So – back to the talk of emigration in the air:

There’s talk of emigration in the air. It’s everywhere I go. Parties. Work. In the supermarket.

That’s Jeremy Clarkson in this week’s Sunday Times. He’s fed up with the UK – particularly the way it’s being run – and he wants out:

It’s a lovely idea, to get out of this stupid, Fairtrade, Brown-stained, Mandelson-skewed, equal-opportunities, multicultural, carbon-neutral, trendily left, regionally assembled, big-government, trilingual, mosque-drenched, all-the-pigs-are-equal, property-is-theft hellhole and set up shop somewhere else.

The rest of the piece is a wonderful rant about the amount of control and red tape that is exerted over those in the developed world. And a highly amusing list of the problems with each individual country that he considers emigrating to. And – while it is, of course, written with tongue firmly in cheek – at least Clarkson acknowledges that it doesn’t matter where you go, things won’t ever be perfect. Because that’s really not how life works.

I often think that immigrants to a country are better at seeing the good in it. I certainly think that I have a much more positive opinion of South Africa than many of those who have lived here all their lives. And that goes for a lot of the other ex-pats I’ve met here, too.
I’ve done my best to educate myself on the substance behind the stories, taking opinion from all sides – like The Political Analyst and The Guru amongst others – and I’m finding it easier and easier to recognise nonsense emails and stories earlier and earlier, because – like all lies – they really don’t stand up to any degree of scrutiny. I now regularly have friends emailing me with stories of crime and politics and the ANC, with online petitions and the like, asking me if they are true.
And they never are.

And while I’m happy to set records straight, I find it sad that people still willingly believe all that they read in their inboxes and in the newspapers. And sadder still that there are individuals who will prey on this gullibility to push their agenda across. Thabo Mbeki did some things right and he did some things wrong (and this really isn’t a post about that), but he hit the nail on the head with this line:

It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country.

Ironically, it now seems that he was behind some of the propagation of those deliberate falsehoods, no matter how unacceptable he found the practice. But it’s still a great quote.

What I’m saying here is that you can’t allow yourself to be dragged down by only seeing the negative side of things and you have to make the best of what you’ve got.
Because you’re never going to have it all.
A lot of people in South Africa fall into that negativity trap and their lives, their outlook and the mood of whole country in general are detrimentally affected because of it.
Positivity costs nothing and it makes you feel a whole lot better.

As for Clarkson – his column has now been removed from the Sunday Times website – probably something to do with his plan to strap Peter Mandelson “to the front of a van and drive round the country until he isn’t alive any more”.
Fortunately, I got there first and have a nice small (35kb) PDF of it for you to read. Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “There’s talk of emigration in the air

  1. I can’t say I always find Clarkson’s writing amusing, and I certainly don’t agree with much of his politics, even allowing for the huge dollop of hyperbole that has become his trademark.

    That article, though, I rather like. Not least because he doesn’t seem to share the rose-tinted view of so many that the next lot of {censored} that will probably be elected will be a great deal better than the current batch!

    On the whole, it doesn’t matter anyway. A country often becomes what it is as much despite its government as because of it.

    And much as we moan about the way this country’s heading, if we’re honest we’ll admit that moaning is really our national sport and that, for all of the problems and worries and gripes and irritations, it’s still not a bad place to live.
    .-= Ro´s last blog ..Face The Facts =-.

  2. Jacques > Sunshine? Do you have windows where you are? 😉

    Ro > “for all of the problems and worries and gripes and irritations, it’s still not a bad place to live.”

    I agree. And neither is SA.
    People need to realise these things.

  3. I am originally from Zim, my parents still live there so I go back at least once a year to visit. It’s heart breaking in ways that I can’t even describe. At my age, I was almost forced to emigrate because if I had stayed, I would have had no future. I choose to see the better side of SA (I am a citizen of the Rainbow Nation now) however sometimes I’ll hear something on the news, or read an article and I’ll think to myself; “but how can people not be furious about that? That’s how things in Zim started” (no specific examples spring to mind…I’ll get back to you on that). It’s good to be happy and optimistic about where you live, but I also try to think 20 years down the line, when my kids will be near my age, what will it be like then? Will they be forced to move somewhere else because of the policies embraced today? Will I only see my grown up kids once a year? I don’t want that. And yet….is moving to the so-called ‘first world’ worth it?

  4. I feel like I am constantly defending my reasons to choose to live in SA. When I say it is the best place I have lived the first questions is always – why, where else have you been?

    Yes, we have our problems, but like Clarkson said – so does everywhere else. Maybe it is because I am from a family of Ex-pat and they always saw the positive. Maybe it is because I have travelled and lived in numerous different countries. Who knows? But I still maintain there is nowhere else I would rather live than in PE!
    .-= Pamela´s last blog ..Papa don’t preach! =-.

  5. I’ll wager Clarkson’s column was removed because he referred to South Africa as too “risky” for emigration purposes. (The SA high commission cried racism and put the screws on the Foreign office which in turn had the Times remove it). He did have a point though with the van thing. I’d love to see that ASA guy and a few others on a good bundu-bashing.

  6. Tara > I understand your cautionary tone. But the circumstances in which SA finds itself are still a far cry from Zim. The Constitution is a hugely important document and – believe it or not – it is respected by all the parties in the country – if not necessarily by all the individuals.
    I’m not saying that JZ is the perfect President, not that the ANC form the perfect Government.
    But I think we’re far further towards the “things are going well” end of the scale than the “OMG! We’re all going to die!” end.

    Pamela > It gets that way, hey? But it shouldn’t. I find that about 2% of those people who say thery’re going to leave, actually leave. Bit of a cliche, buti t’s nicer without them.

    Andrew > Death by van. I like it.

    Tara 2 > (You were pre-Tara’ed by Tara.) It’s a funny column. I like Clarkson – even if he won’t let me walk round his lighthouse.

  7. Never true? Falsehoods? How can you be so blind? I understand the politics suck world wide. I understand there is no Utopia but there is no way in hell that you can begin to say that crime levels in South Africa are anywhere close to the UK, or in fact in other 1st World Countries.

    Here are some of my family’s crime stats starting from 1994:

    [there follows a list of woe and misery, most of which involves Luiz’s sister’s best friend’s next door neighbours etc etc and which I have removed for reasons of… grammar and… other stuff (like it’s pathetic).]
    6k.

    What exactly are we supposed to be positive about? The sunshine? The great, open landscapes? The awesome beaches? The fantastic wildlife? The intelligent reverse apartheid now politely called Affirmative Action and Black Empowerment? The lousy Rand? Get real, wake up and smell the coffee! At its not just South Africa, both my sisters and my own in-laws are from Zim. You should hear their horror stories. I was born in Mozambique and left in 1975 with many horror stories – I saw people being burnt alive, their head being used a football! Those that stay in Africa either can’t get out for various reasons or are raking in the cash from dodgy deals thanks to their unscrupulous connections.

    I am grateful to live in the UK despite its ‘many’ problems. At least we can live in relative peace of mind. We don’t have to be scared of the dark, carry guns, and have six foot walls, barbed fences, killer guard dogs and burglar guards on all windows to list a few things. Here I have a career based on merit not skin colour or connections.

    To all those that haven’t been a victim of crime, GOOD LUCK to you because it’s just a matter of time! Life certainly looks different when you have stared down a barrel of a gun! Let us hope and pray you are still positive when they rob you or yours blind, terrorise you or yours, rape you or yours or God forbid – murder you or yours!

  8. Luiz > Thanks. Just when I was beginning to worry that the racist SA ex-pat stereotype had disappeared, you have reaffirmed my faith.

    Especially loved the “BEE/AA is racist” comment, the fact that you live in the UK and the “it’s only a matter of time” thing. Talk about ticking all the boxes. Superb.

    Have a lovely life. Bye.

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