Monday, August 8, 2011

The ripple effects of Migration

'Another Saffer expat bites the dust' 
   Eve Hemming

I was thinking the other day when I read that 1 million or more South Africans had emigrated since 
1994, how immigration impacts on the individual. If each of those million folk knew 20 people really well 'back home' that would hypothetically amount to 20,000,000 people in South Africa being affected by emigration.

When Dee, aged 5, moved to New Zealand 20 months ago, his little best friend at pre-primary in KZN, South Africa was deeply traumatised, as of course was Dee. They had been inseparable at pre-school. They  hadn't learnt to read and write so writing emails to one another wasn't viable after Dee left. One or two chats on skype took place, but the time difference made it difficult and life inevitably moved on. Dee has a new best friend in NZ, a little boy who emigrated from UK, at the same time as Dee did from SA. And hopefully the little boy in KZN has a new best friend by now, which I'm sure he has.
Irrespective of if one is a grand parent, parent, or a child, one is going to leave either a massive or a small ripple effect back home. Someone is going to be affected. It's now three years since I left. People in SA seem to write more seldom, despite my religious never -ending flow of emails, pictures and updates... and the gap insidiously closes over like a fine but tightly meshed shield across a gaping chasm. The shield is penetrable by the closest loved ones, who keep talking on skype, emailing or face-booking. But for the rest, life goes on and one becomes a forgotten entity - another expat...that may as well have 'bitten the dust'. 
Of course when one goes back to SA to visit one does reconnect, but I find that this gets harder as folk really are resistant and there is this sense of 'us' and 'them'... or is it my imagination ? From the 'verbal abuse' I had received in the media on my departure three years ago, I don't think so. There was a definite sense of anger and of being 'abandoned'. And still 3 years later, I'm bemused as to why people are angry when one is following one's choice to seek a safer option at great emotional and financial sacrifice; not just for the self, but for one's loved ones and family. After all the expats don't throw a tantrum at those who wish to stay in SA. And I'm acutely aware that the majority of Saffers simply CANNOT leave and for those of them who would desire to, I deeply empathise. And for those many folk who wish to stay regardless of talks of nationalisation, land grabs, and ongoing atrocities (as in News 24 today - 8 August 2011), that is their choice and I totally respect that as part of 'the spirit of human freedom of choice'. 

A Saffer in the process of emigrating said on the 'SA going to NZ forum' today, which I read on the web, that SA is now on level 6 of genocide. I'm not sure how that scale works, but it pertains to the ongoing brutal murder of farmers in South Africa, which is now stands at over 3000.

All I can say is that it is so terribly tragic and senseless.

I still wonder what it feels like 'back home' when yet another close friend departs. As incredibly hard as it is to leave and wave goodbye to one's entire past life, very visceral life-lines, roots, loved ones, identity and connections, it must be equally hard for those at home when yet another good connection vanishes across the great divide into a life beyond. 
I belong to a forum where expats chat to folk planning to migrate to New Zealand to offer them support. Just tonight three newbies came on to the forum to say that they are applying to emigrate to New Zealand. One is a woman whose family survived a high jacking and decided to stay in SA... until their second high jacking. Then they decided 'How much more can we take?" and are on their way.

Yes, I know oodles of folk in SA who contentedly gloat away about 'Ah, another glorious day in Africa' as they sip their cocktails under a setting sun, looking out at a majestic panoramic vista... as though 'all is dandy and sugar candy'. It makes it difficult to gauge, as I'm sure if one is in the right place at the right time it can be idyllic. And those are the moments every expat dreams of and envies like hell !!!  

But it's only idyllic until one is in the wrong place at the wrong time. And please don't get me wrong, one can be in the wrong place anywhere. A South African expat woman was traumatised in Auckland only two weeks back when an idiotic inebriated woman with road rage followed her and then proceeded to open her car door and slap her around. Now she wants to move to Aussie. Well hello - Did anyone tell people like her that there's NOWHERE where zero s*%t hits the fan...

Migration is a profound fact and the merry -go- round continues to rotate at an ever increasing and madding pace. People emigrate from countries around the world, not just from South Africa, and it's true that many folk leave NZ and move to Oz. But I wonder how many people emigrate to SA these days. From the data I've read, it's primarily Saffers returning, (some due to homesickness, others as it was impossible to find work due to the global recession and others for other personal reasons- yes, probably only 75 % or so of migrants 'survive' the life-altering phenomenon...), else folk from Zimbabwe and further north in Africa, many not as legal immigrants, which makes it difficult to have a realistic concept of numbers and demographics in SA, as folk trickle out of the continent, as well as trickle in over the northern borders. 

My wish is that Saffers, expats and wannabes all continue to support one another in the spirit of Ubunthu; respecting personal choice and endeavouring to make South Africa a safer place for those who stay whilst supporting and lovingly releasing those who opt to leave in search of a new land. 

Here are some facts and figures from the Internet:-

The contents of these sites are not necessarily a reflection of my opinion. Some may be qualitatively subjective, others may be quantitatively factual and evidence- based.  by Jonathan Crush July 2008 - Home, sweet home - for some

www.southafrica info/travel - Reasons for Doctor migration from South Africa - Connecting Global Minds uk - Farm murders in SA

Patterns and policies of Migration - F.Khan

Wikipedia - demographics of South Africa

Reference: Wikipedia  Demographics of SA - Immigration

COB data South Africa.PNG
South Africa hosts a sizeable refugee and asylum seeker population. According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, this population numbered approximately 144,700 in 2007.[27] Groups of refugees and asylum seekers numbering over 10,000 included people from Zimbabwe (48,400), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (24,800), and Somalia (12,900).[27] These populations mainly lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth.[27] Many refugees have now also started to work and live in rural areas in provinces such as Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal.
Statistics SA assumes in some of their calculations that there are less than 2 million immigrants in South Africa.[28] Other institutions, like the police and Médecins Sans Frontières place estimate the figure at 4 million.[29][30][31][32][33]

Lyrics of song ' Another one bites the dust...'
Steve walks warily down the street,
With the brim pulled way down low
Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet,
Machine guns ready to go
Are you ready, Are you ready for this
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat


Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

How do you think I'm going to get along,
Without you, when you're gone
You took me for everything that I had,
And kicked me out on my own

Are you happy, are you satisfied
How long can you stand the heat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat


Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
There are plenty of ways you can hurt a man
And bring him to the ground
You can beat him
You can cheat him
You can treat him bad and leave him
When he's down
But I'm ready, yes I'm ready for you
I'm standing on my own two feet
Out of the doorway the bullets rip                          
Repeating the sound of the beat