While standing on a queue to get into the fourth place I was visiting on my night of venue hopping in London which started in upmarket neighbourhoods, including visiting friends at a London School of Economics residence ending up in a reggae club in Brixton, I met a South African who couldn’t stop talking about how difficult things often are for him in SA which led to him leaving. The chap went on to tell me how he struggled to get visas enabling him to explore Europe and North America until he “fought” to get a Portuguese passport as his grandmother originated from there. He was going on about how useless the South African passport is.
I then responded by naming the various countries I have been to with nothing else but the South African passport. His response was to tell me that it’s because I am black and he is white. Now at this stage I was confused why Europeans and Americans would discriminate against white South Africans and favour those with the chocolate skin tone. After saying this he told me how unfair the South African government is towards white people – again I became confused as visas to European countries are not issued by the South African government.
The rough looking man who - during this conversation - discriminated against the Afrikaaner, Lebanese, black people and many other South Africans then asked me how I ended up in the United Kingdom as they are supposedly strict on those with passports from his native. I told him of the prestigious scholarship given to me by the British which is currently enabling me to study at one of the top media schools in the United Kingdom. His response: “You see I am not schooled broer.”
Earlier in the day a Canadian acquaintance had reminded me of a story of a South African who tried to claim refuge in Canada saying he is a target of criminals who had shot him several times in his homeland because he too is white. This gentleman had also not received much of an education and was living on odd jobs in Canada. I then recalled how South African media had revealed that the man wasn’t even white and was an extremely light shade of coloured and clearly was telling lies to the Canadians and thus giving a negative view of his country, South Africa.
These are just two stories of white South Africans who have clearly not taken advantage of the opportunities that have come with the new South Africa if one is willing to work for them. When the man I met on the queue told me he is “not schooled” I thought he would perhaps tell me of other skills he has. Instead he told me about odd jobs he is willing to do in Philadelphia, USA, for a small fee – these are jobs he wouldn’t do in South Africa as he believes he deserves better.
In South Africa one often hears certain white people complaining about how the government and the job market hires black over white people despite statistics showing a different picture especially in top management positions. It is also heart breaking to hear foreigners ask about the negative they clearly have heard from these South Africans who often never talk about the positive that has been achieved since we received democracy in 1994.
I don’t remember South Africa under apartheid but I see that much has been done to improve the economy of the country. I also realise that hard work does bear fruit in South Africa. I have been at the University of Sussex for just over a week now, but have realised that the lifestyle I have in South Africa is much better than the one I’d have in the UK. I hate Britain’s small houses built next to each other with people sharing walls and not much of a yard. I have seen one or two grey days and realise how depressing they can be in winter.
British food is also not my favourite in the world as it lacks spice and is often grilled, cooked fast with a lack of passion that prepares it in the kitchen. Give me ujeqe, samp and a bit of curry - thank you very much!
I have no doubt that I can thrive if I stayed in the UK but with hard work I will definitely have a happier life in South Africa with friendly people, great weather, lots of space and that will definitely enable me to contribute to the growth of the country that is truly ‘alive with possibilities’.