Thursday, January 13, 2011

The difference between New Zealand and South Africa

For those of you who don't know - we moved from South Africa in September 2004 to New Zealand.  And we love it here.  This post is not about why we chose to leave or to justify and defend our decision.

For a long time I used to read several internet sites each day - sites like NZ Herald, Stuff (both NZ news sites) and News24 (a South African news site).  Now I didn't read the South African one because I was all homesick or depressed about wanting to move, it was simply a habit more than anything else (I started reading this site when I was still in South Africa) and in a way it is good to stay in touch because we still have family there, so good to know what was happening. 

After a while I just got completely fed up with this site because really all you ever read is about political jokes like Julius Malema who seems to be probably one of the biggest racists you will ever come across.  And I don't support racism - at all! 

So if it is not that, then it would be the most horrific crime you can imagine - farmers who are tortured and killed daily, women and children who are raped and so on.  And especially this one made me feel really sad because all I could think about was that Caitlyn is 3 and how incredibly incredibly scared this little girl must have been.

And of course the typical expat witch-hunt.  They invite South Africans living in other countries to write about their experiences, which they then publish and then the nasty, hurtful, often racist comments start from loads of South African readers as a result.  Hundreds of comments which become this huge mud-slinging match.  Things like "traitor" and "runaway lowlifes" and "good riddance" and "you have no right to come onto this site" and on and on and on.  I have never written about our experiences living here because the only thing most South Africans (in our experience) ever want to know is if you are unhappy with your decision, but if you are happy about it then they are quick to "shut you up".  Not so much from family and friends, but acquaintances and on forums and most definitely on this site as well.  So there really is no point and really we did this for us and not for anybody else.  So despite the fact that the majority of South Africans' forefathers immigrated from a number of other countries hundreds of years ago, a lot of South Africans are often fiercely patriotic and will not accept or tolerate if somebody decides to live somewhere else and boy, will they give you a piece of their mind.  So I choose not to participate in articles like these because I don't feel guilty or sad about our choice to come here, it was the right choice for us.

One thing I have noticed here in New Zealand is that it is very much encouraged that people will go off and have an OE (overseas experience).  There are no rude, hurtful, nasty or racist comments when any Kiwis (a term to describe New Zealanders) choose to live and work somewhere else.  And I must say I like this more mature outlook far more than the immature South African comments I have noticed on News 24.

So for a very long time I have not been back on the News24 site, because quite frankly I have had enough of the constant negativity from these who can't accept that people made different choices.  What made me go back to News24 today was this:

Recently I read a post on one of my favourite blogs (at the moment) where a bunch of people went on a subway ride and they were without pants, just to see the reactions of the other passengers.  (You can read the post here) and so this morning on the radio (or was it yesterday - can't remember) they mentioned that a bunch of people tried this on the train in Johannesburg and something like 43 got arrested.  I saw nothing in our news and was curious about it and thought there must have been something on the News 24 site and so I broke my resolution and opened the site to read.

I didn't see anything about this particular article so really don't know if it is true or not, what I did notice was an article SA couple in Brisbane lose everything.  The Australian floods have been BIG news here in New Zealand and we have all been really anxious to see updates, many of us know people living there and Terence also has family there and I really feel for the people who have to go through such a terrible situation, losing everything in the process. People losing their lives!

And in typical South African spirit, instead of being compassionate and caring, I noticed comments like these on an article where South Africans who have been living in Brisbane lost everything in the floods:

"The grass is greener, hey...hahahaha"

"a what can we say, you left a beautiful country a great country for a s**t box and now you lost everything..... grass is not always green on the other side hey???? rember Karma karma is a dangerous thing and most if not all expats have left SA with bad karma bacause of their sins and karma always comes back to collect the debt owed to it"

"I am tempted to b nasty to these traitors, but it wont benefit me anything. Instead i will b a proud south African and send them an invitation to come home."

"First it was fire now its water (2 plagues 8 to go), GOd is punishing evil Australia for taking in racist and evil apartheid supporters"

"Left SA cause your purse got snatched, landed in "Glorious Australia" **Ausie accent** only to lose everything! poetic if you ask me. Oh please stay there!"

"They deserve every miserable thing that is happened to them and they should not think of coming back, they will stand up like a sore thump in this country and our trailer parks are full"

"I wish for more floods to sweep away all the SA`s living there!

Waiting for your comments ( bloody agents)

And that folks - is the huge difference in my opinion between New Zealand and South Africa, that in New Zealand people can be compassionate towards New Zealanders who chose to make another country their home. There are no insulting comments, no "serves you right for leaving us", no "you are a traitor", no "good riddance" type of immature reactions. To the people here this is a tragedy affecting thousands of people regardless of where they came from.  And in South Africa?  It becomes yet another witch-hunt on News24, a chance to throw around hateful, hurtful, insulting, rude and even racist remarks and then these particular people call themselves "proud South Africans"?  I can't see why anybody would be proud of an attitude like that.  Thank goodness my children are not part of such a hateful society! 


Sue, Joe and Michael Webber said...

Oh Lea, that's just terrible, how sad. At least Poms only whinge! lol As for, great place to live, great people. Wouldn't want to live anywhere else :D

Sharon said...

Sorry Lea, but I have to say I feel you're making an unfair generalization. You can't clump an entire nation into the same category as a small minority of lame brains who mouth off anonymously and cowardly online.
The immature behavior you are referring to can be found in all nationalities and all over the web, irrespective of if they're South African or not, I think its the nature of the internet, it gives anonymity and allows people to think they can say whatever they like. I don't think that's a purely South African issue.

farmer_liz said...

Thanks Lea, that was a really interesting perspective. I think it must be very difficult to have to make a decision to leave your country (although I don't know what your personal reasons were, may SAs that I've met have left because of the violence) and you must be torn between staying and rebuilding your country into something great or just getting out to save yourselves and your families. I have often wondered about that when I see how many SAs have left (there are several at my work). I'm glad you've found the courage to leave and to accept that your decision is best for your family.
Something that I notice on the news in Australia is that they always report a disaster in terms of Australians. For example, they will say "there was an accident in the US and no Australians were injured.....but 100s of US citizens are dead" as if the Australian part is the most important, no matter what else has happened.