Monday, August 22, 2005

 

Thanks, but...No

Once in a while I get stories from home that I feel just need some sort of response. I see that First National Bank is leading the "Homecoming revolution". This is a move to get ex-pat South Africans to "come home".
The thought of going home fills me with warm fuzzy feelings of owning a home instead of renting shoebox in middle of road, wide open spaces, weekend braais (barbecues you dumb Americans on which we cook real meat and not wieners), Nandos, KFC that uses ALL 11 herbs and spices, whale watching, the V&A waterfront, and being with friends and family. Oh wait, most of my family is overseas. So are most of my friends. I wonder why that is?
And that house I want to buy...Who can guarantee that two years down the line, Mr Mbeki who thinks Robert Mad Bob Mugabe is a pan Africanist hero, won't decided to give my property to "veterans of the revolution"?
Even if he doesn't, how much in security will it cost so that I won't come home one night to find a robber/rapist in my own home? And even if I'm prepared to take THAT kind of risk, will he give me AIDS? And if he does, while my government will give him retrovirals while he serves his two weeks in jail, will they give them to me?
It's a really strange concept, I know, but I'm used to walking down the street at night and not fearing for my life. It took a while but I've become used to using subways that don't smell like urinals and serve as gateways to hell. I've become used to using trains that stop at stations where there are shopping malls and air conditioning, not vagrants with their hands out everywhere I turn, people trying to steal my car (I don't have one here because I don't need one) or just scratch it because I don't give them enough of a tip for "looking after it".
Here, babies don't get raped to death. Old women are not targets of sexual attacks. Strikes are very rare, bank robberies far and few between, car hijackings unheard of, and that all encompassing sense of dread that covers the lives of south africans...doesn't exist here.
Yes, it does exist in South Africa. I didn't realise it until I was away from it. I don't have to think twice about going out at night, no matter how far I have to go. In fact I work night shift and my biggest concern is whether or not I'll make it home in time for my favourite tv shows.
When I get sick, I go to the hospital that doesn't require me to bring my own blankets or food. I get quality medical care, including all drugs and it costs me about R120 a day. Tax is 15%, with no sales tax.
No one owns guns here, they don't need to and its against the law. The last time we had a "corrupt" politician was...uh...uh... oh yes, when someone tried to ask a polling company not to ask certain questions. The last time a politcian ran off with the people's money? Never. The police deal, on average with one crime a year per police officer. Surprising I know, but convicts tend to remain in jail until the end of their sentences, not get released because it's the president's birthday.
But you know what else is so great. There is no sense of shame because I am white. No one expects me to give them money, give up my job, give up my time, pay back some huge debt I didn't enter into in the first place, simply because I happen to be white. I know that money I put in the bank I can take anywhere in the world, it's not subject to the whim of the government. Any property I buy will be mine forever.
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