Not just another Brexit article. We are South African – hear us.

Not just another Brexit article. We are South African – hear us.

Written and published on The South African Magazine: 27 June 2016.

For the first time since 1993, I felt a certain rumble in my belly this past week. It wasn’t the the dodgy butternut soup I’d had at lunchtime, but rather an old familiar friend which I thought I’d buried a long time ago. The friend that tugged at the hearts of so many South Africans in the early 90s when we were all faced with 1 big change ahead.

  • Some decided that their fear of potential in-fighting, economic ruin, threat of personal safety and cultural disarray was too much to bear and headed for greener pastures abroad.
  • Many welcomed the very change that was resulting in fear of the unknown to others, with singing and dancing and true innate excitement.
  • Many were indifferent to the huge potential for change that lay ahead and just carried on with their day-to-day routines.
  • And then there were others who felt the fear, and felt the concern – but who decided to keep their heads down, roll their sleeves up and give it one last shot because they believed in a greater cause. They wanted to make a difference – despite their circumstance.

So how ironic to sit here – a South African expat now living and working in the UK – contributing to this economy, this culture, this commercial growth plan – and to once again, feel the same unease that we felt all those years ago – when faced with something so big, something so unknown – that despite what the media reports, and the politicians falsely promise – almost puts us right back to where we were in the early 90s in South Africa.

Make no mistake – I never left South Africa for a better life. I didn’t choose to leave because I’d had enough. My life path ended up this way due to a very happy cross-cultural relationship.    But so many of my friends living in the UK, did. They left out of fear. They left out of circumstance. They left for a better life.  And now – we all sit with the same unease.  Brexit. 

Amongst subject conversations with fellow-South Africans this weekend, were those of leaving for Canada, weighing up a Zuma-nation vs a Non-EU Britain and hopeful petitions for a second referendum.   There are couch-politicians name-calling those who didn’t vote in the same way and referring to them as racist, idiotic nazis.  There are others who didn’t bother voting, but are now signing petitions to u-turn a result of a democratic process simply because they don’t like what they are hearing. There are those who, after they had voted, started to research and clarify what the EU actually was.

We know that change isn’t easy. And there are many of us who may feel disappointed, frustrated, even angered by the results of this ‘process’ – but there’s one thing that stands firm for me.

We are South African. We are, each of us, born with a culturally-rich desire to do, desire to achieve, desire to succeed. We are overcomers of turmoil – we are problem-solvers and fixers. We get the job done, and we know how to live – no matter of location, circumstance or standing.  Yes – we may already be packing our bags, heading for the hills – or we may be burying our heads in the sand until all of this fuss blows over – but whatever it is, there’s something inside each one of us that instinctively reminds us that we can do this.

The sun will still rise tomorrow.  That deadline that’s looming, will not move. The beer you have in the fridge will still be cold ready for that braai you’re planning.

So get busy doing.

About the Author

Katy Roberts administrator

Katy Roberts has over 15 years's experience in helping businesses amplify their brands, build their customer bases and engage effectively with audience communities in order to build relationship for long-term business success. Having left the corporate world and now working independently since 2015, Katy continues to help local and national businesses tell their story.

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