Actually, I’m not quite sure which expat South African I am. I know I am not the bloke at the BBQ bashing bad ‘ol Zuma and recounting my home invasion with dramatic interludes and role play amongst intermittent gasps from first world friends who just came for the rugby game. I am most definitely not eating frikadels and solemnly searching the facebook groups for black market biltong dealers either.
I am just me in a different country. Yes, I like vetkoek. No I am not going to find oom Baas’ overpriced import shop 50 miles away and post photographic evidence of my Jelly Tots packet moment on FB. (no hate if that’s your jam, I just prefer signature range to Koo these days)
I’m proud of my heritage. I miss my family and friends. I long to lay my eyes upon a real, live wild animal, to hand feed a vervet monkey over the barb wire fence and watch it scurry off into the sugar cane fields. But I certainly do not need 7 online support groups or to praat the Taal to Suzette the frantic stranger in the Countdown supermarket, following me around the international isle, inviting me to the annual Wellington potjiekos compo. I’m not your girl, Suzette. Back it up and go find yourself a Marilette in Petone who makes her own koeksisters.
However, if my name was Gert and I was Pretoria’s MMA fighting champion and got my steroids as cheap as steer’s chips, I too would be running the streets saying come at me bru, SA is my country too…
But you see, I had two young children, a terrible left jab and a constant fear of my family being hurt. For me it made sense to get the hell outta there. I knew that sacrifices needed to be made. I made them and I am embracing all that is New Zealand. I have not felt homesick. We were ready.
I get it though. For a lot of us its the hardest thing in the world to leave what you know. For those who have very close family connections and older children, it must be even worse.
If I didn’t have the worlds most dedicated A-type-to-a-fault husband, I know for a fact I would be eating me some wimpy eggs whilst Bongi sends a “please call me” as a reminder to buy her airtime and milk. I would still be in the homeland and I wouldn’t feel like death was imminent or that my friends abroad where traitors and cowards.
I miss my first home, but its not for what I thought it would be, I pine for Transkei holidays, not for domestic help. I miss animated chats with Simphiwe in Spar about his troubled love life and his 6 illegitimate children, but I no longer feel hard done by that my restaurant meal does not cost only $5. I cannot imagine having my underrods washed by any one else and I sure am enjoying raising my children myself. It has also been proven that I can live without cheap manicures and fanny waxes. I miss an ocean I can actually dip my entire body into and not lose an appendage to frostbite, but I don’t miss hiding my car keys in the sand and clutching a butter knife at night behind interlocking trellidoors when my husband was away on business trips.
I also don’t think those still in SA are all jealous of us in the land of sheep and R50 coffee’s. It’s such a personal thing, you cannot compare your personal cognitive make up with your fellow countryman’s. We shared a geographical location, not a birth mother. My dad was a farmer. I learnt Zulu words before English. For summer holidays our maid’s son would come to us and we would westernize the shit out of him before he trotted back to the township with a Ninja Turtle backpack and memories of TV games, Mnet and overcoming his fear of the swimming pool. I grew up with African people so I miss those people. If you find me a Thandeka in Rotorua, New Zealand, I may be tempted to chomp on some mieliepap with her…
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