Dear South Africa……….

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I have been in South Africa for 12 weeks nearly now and I’ve been trying to think of a way that I can express how my feelings towards this country are as there are so many things to talk about both positively and negatively so I think a good old fashioned letter may well do the trick.

Dear South Africa,

Firstly, can I thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me stay in your beautiful country. It truly looks and feels sensational. The mountains alone were worth the air fare and I have promised myself never to take them for granted as their natural beauty takes my breath away on a daily basis.

You should be immensely proud of your people as well. They are some of the friendliest and most helpful I have ever met. Any time I have needed help I have asked and they have delivered. Whether that is family members, established friends and neighbours or just Joe Public on the streets, they have made me feel most welcome.

I have met a few rogues as well but don’t worry, it’s not just you that has them. I have met hundreds around the world and I don’t want you to feel like people are picking on you simply because they love highlighting this and talking about it on Facebook constantly. I used to live in London and it’s full of rogues.

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The weather has been great as well I must say. It’s winter now and it’s going to be 28 degrees today. For an Englishman that is sensational. I am getting some funny looks off people as I waltz around in my shorts as they are wearing puffer jackets and scarves but I think it sparks good conversation and these people aren’t rogues, they just think I’m a bit strange which I am comfortable with.

I also enjoy the rain that you have because it is so dramatic. It rains with purpose and fills the precious Dams. In the U.K. you get this sort of half arsed rain that just sticks to you and annoys you. It’s pretty depressing actually. You should definitely rain more often. People would be really happy.

My two daughters are also thriving here. They love the outdoors and it’s saving me a fortune on shoes as they are never wearing them. They watch less TV and stupid surprise egg on my phone as they would rather be outside on the trampoline or helping Mikaela in the garden. The joy of watching my children with so much freedom at home and at parks, playing fields or wine farms warms my heart greatly.

Kids are allowed to be kids here and not governed by Health and Safety laws. Little Issy fell off her bike twice the other day but she just got back up, dusted herself off and cracked on. She grazed her knee and her hand but that’s what kids do. Wiped away the tears and got herself to the field to kick the ball around barefoot. Wonderful.

I do however have a few issues that I would like you to address if possible?
The poverty here concerns me. It’s just not right. You are about to spend hundreds of millions of Rand on renaming an airport in Cape Town but there are millions of people that are forced to look through my bins every Wednesday to try and find food or cardboard that they may get a couple of Rand for at the recycling plant.

I’ve spoken about the driving to you before so I don’t want to dredge up old dirt but seriously. Catch someone using a phone and take their licence off them. It’s that simple. Punishment needs to be enforced and it needs to be stronger. Make an example of a few people and things will soon change I promise.

My biggest concern though is the underlying hatred that keeps bubbling to the surface. I’ve met so many decent people here but I can feel this sadness in them. It’s almost like they don’t believe in you anymore. They’re giving up on you and that is so sad.

The best way I can describe this is that you have one of the greatest products in the world. Your packaging is beautiful, the casing of the product is so easy to open and your new toy is going to be life changing but for some reason you want to smash it to pieces with a sledgehammer.

I know what you are going to say to me about the history of this country and that you are slowly but surely getting there but I don’t think that you are really? You’re not doing enough.

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I had a conversation in a pub a few weeks after arriving here with a 24 year old guy. I got asked the usual question of “Why would you move here?” but the way he asked me was different. It had a tone to it of sheer disbelief. I’m not sure he was happy with me that I was so positive about the country and that the simple act of walking out of my front door and having coffee looking at a mountain was magical to me.

He went on to tell me that I don’t understand. That the country is damaged beyond repair and that what has gone before has left untreatable scars on society.

His main gripe though was on events that had happened before he was even born.

His Grandfather had land taken off him after the sanctions were lifted and his uncle lost his job so a man with a different skin colour could have it. Awful events I must agree but I had one question for him.

What is it you are actually angry at?

“Well, you know, it’s just not right is it that this can happen?”

“But it was before you were even born” I said. “So again, what are you actually angry at?”

“South Africa”

“What in particular?”

“The way people are getting treated and the murder rate”

This went on for some time and to be honest it didn’t really matter what was said after that because one thing and one thing alone stuck out like a sore thumb.

Hate is taught and you are not born with it.

He’d been taught to hate people that had hurt his family before he was born. It was so sad to hear but what I am saying to you South Africa is that there is a generation now that has a chance to change things.

This generation can leave that baggage at the check in desk and start again. It can show positivity. Don’t hate the guy serving your drink because of what his Grandfather may or not have been involved in. The long and short of it is; It wasn’t the guy pouring your pint that caused any of it and he is trying to move on as well.

Please please please take heed of this advice because you are picture perfect in so many ways yet so ugly on the inside sometimes.

Don’t live with regret. Don’t under appreciate what you have.

Don’t walk outside your front door in 50 years’ time with your coffee in your hand, stare at the mountains and say to yourself:

‘South Africa, I have taken you for granted.’

Andy

7 thoughts on “Dear South Africa……….

  1. Another beaut matey. Keep ‘em coming. You guys are an inspiration and with words like that you will change the world one sentence at a time 😊

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  2. Andy, I am Sam’s brother. I have visited her twice, in 2016 and again in 2917. I simply could not agree with you more. Every word I read could have come from myself. Such a beautiful country, yet underlying problems. So like many other Nations as well. Hope you and your family enjoy your life in SA, with its amazing lifestyle and everything good it has to offer.

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  3. Honestly, this has been so perfectly captured and exactly what we experienced when we moved back. The first three months were just a heady experience of “cannot believe I actually live here again”, “the beauty”, “the weather”… it’s a bubble of bliss and then the cracks started appearing as we started venturing out into life beyond the bliss. In the five years we were there; we arrived just after the world cup so there was an energy of anticipation and hope which dwindled away to hopelessness and resignation… it just felt so sad in a place with such natural beauty that on a daily basis you could find yourself stilled just to take it all in… we’re back in the UK now though and I miss Paarl and Cape Town daily but have managed to find contentment in getting our “fill” when we get there on holidays. I wish you, Mikaela and the girls all the very best on your adventures, enjoy every moment, there are many to be savoured. Who knows, maybe the girls will end up in La Rochelle 😉 xx

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  4. There are always three sides to a story! Their side, our side and the TRUTH! For foreigners to give advice, is like accountants giving advice concerning medical matters. We lived in beautiful South Africa all our lives before immigrating, we employed over 160 blacks that we loved, housed them when their homes were burnt down in faction fighting between the Zulus and Xhosas, their transportation was curtailed when the blacks burnt the Indian buses, and had no transport, except very expensive African Taxis, which moved us to build accommodation for our staff in a nursing home. We fed them, clothed them with uniforms, paid for their medical and dental requirements, and paid fully for their Aides related funerals, including the coffins, buses to transport mourners to and from the burials, including the food and burial costs. Not a word of thanks was forthcoming. What is really happening in South Africa at this moment, is exactly what happened in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), the blacks receiving FREE farms, FREE Jobs without qualifications, etc! The killings, predominantly of the farmers, continues at this time, with the women and young girls raped, and the men and young boys strung up with rope and stabbed to death! I can write a volumn of books of what I experienced, as a soldier in Rhodesia, and as a black employer in South Africa, giving first hand, proven, investigative facts of what has happened in the past, what is ACTUALLY happening NOW with a blueprint of what WILL happen in the future! Zimbabwe was the absolute FOOD BASKET before Mugabe arrived, and left with the country in total chaos, bankrupcy, famine and disarray! There is not a single country, bar Botswana, in Africa which has a democrat way of life and cares for ALL its people in a humanly accepted manner. What one sees on the media is a pretense, but what comes out of a trusted and fully, impartial investigation, gives a far different situation of events and circumstances. This is where the truth lies, as what Winston Churchill stated: “TRUTH IS INCONTROVERTIBLE, MALICE MAY ATTACK IT, IGNORANCE MAY DERIDE IT, BUT IN THE END, THERE IT IS.”

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  5. You have our it so well across. South Africa is a beautiful country and I never wanted to leave it again after the last time but do to been effected directly badly by the crime left and returned to the UK for the 3rd time and at times wake up thinking how I miss it there and what did I do coming here but then remember the terrible tradegy we went through and that Sunday if it my 9 year old begging me to take them out of the country and returned. I look at the laws in SA and the laws here and see how they need to be tighter with the laws in SA and not let criminals slip through there fingers. I wish you all the best in settling in SA and I also agree the poverty is so saddening it is terrible. I will go back to visit it will always be home and will really enjoy it when I am there and hopefully some day we can all return.

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