If I move overseas, must I shut my mouth?
Thursday, April 7, 2011
It seems there is a prevailing opinion that once you have emigrated, you lose your right to read the news in South Africa. And God forbid you dare comment, which has become a popular feature of most news websites. Should you do so, you are frequently met with hostility, ridicule, threats and insults which range from the hilarious to the downright disturbing.
Now, why does one leave a country? Is it because you’re a coward? Is it because it is easy? Is it because it is financially advantageous? Who knows?
Leaving, for me, was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. And I say “had to do”, because I have this very well honed sense of self-preservation. I no longer felt safe in SA. I didn’t like living in a prison called home. The hijackings of cyclists really put me off. Erratic bills from the Joburg City Council and zero recourse (I had to pay R32 000 for a “clearance certificate” on selling the house, promised a refund, nothing six months on), we’ve been victims of crime too many times, crumbling roads, deteriorating water quality (we used to wakeboard on the Vaal river – no more), absurd police force, even more outrageous and absurd “government”. You know all the reasons; having experienced them in person, and increasingly understanding that there was a gaping chasm in my personal moral and ethical makeup and that of South African society, it was clear that getting out was the only option.
Why is it hard? Emigrating is very disruptive. More than that, it is a mountain of admin and paperwork. And it is expensive. It requires commitment, perseverance and nerves of steel. And lots of money.
Once you arrive on the other side, you want to look forward and get on with it. However, if you are someone who likes being informed, plugging in takes time. The political landscape is murky, the issues are almost trivial compared to what we have become accustomed to in SA, the personalities are unknown. And, frankly, the news here lacks entertainment value - it is comparatively boring.
Add to that the fact that no matter who you are, you will have plenty of friends and family in South Africa. If you are like me, you feel strongly about why you had to leave (you’d have to – see the paragraph about why it is hard). When I feel strongly about something, I tend to want to proselytise others into my way of thinking. To me, getting out was a matter of life and death.
So if I think it is in your interests to look at emigration because it might improve your chances of living to be an old coffin dodger, believe me I will try and convince you to do it.
Then there is the issue of confirming to oneself that the right decision has been made (who wouldn’t want to, right?) Well, that’s not difficult, now is it? Look at top stories in SA news right now: TheTimes, News24, Moneyweb, City Press. You get the idea – hell, of course you do, you live there.
And this is before we start digging into the shenanigans of government, you know, Bheki and the lease, Jacob and the 783 charges, Schabir and the “terminal illness”, Nomvula and her now deceased son, Shiceka and the fake degree, Motshekga and whatever the hell she is doing with education, Kgalema and the dodgy deals, the Guptas, Radovan Krejcir, Lolly Jackson, Joey Mabasa, and on and on it goes.
And yes, it is a psychological reality that individuals will seek out information which confirms their world view (and their drastic decisions). It is comforting. There, I admit it.
People, what you are accepting IS NOT NORMAL. It is NOT ACCEPTABLE. None of it. But it becomes the norm and acceptable in SA. You are a part of that society which permits it, like it or not. I am no longer, because I found myself incompatible with that society. Are you compatible with it? Do you like what you are becoming as a consequence of being a member of that society?
Anyway. What are your thoughts? Now that I have left, is reading and commenting on SA news verboten? Should we prevent people from commenting on, say, USA news if they aren’t resident? Should I not share with the world, in this age of social media, the things that I find here which I find strange and wondrous? (You know, like getting your phone line connected in less than two hours, electricity connected in a two minute visit to the power company, having no fence or burglar bars around my house, and, yes, having to do my own dishes and mow the lawn.)
Or should I refrain from comparing, shut the hell up, and let the South Africans I love carry on thinking that they have it the best in the world.
Go on then. Over to you.