Sunday, 2 December 2007

Tis a strange strange world

The world turned on its head for a moment last night. Or at least for the duration of an intriguing movie on telly: Africa Paradis - meaning Africa Paradise in English. Set in a future where Europe has fallen to poverty while Africa has successfully merged to form a powerful United States of Africa, it centers around a computer programmer, Olivier and his girlfriend school teacher, Pauline.

They try to get a visa legally, and wait outside the African embassy in France. The queue is long and the French are desperate. Sadly for them, their visa is rejected whereby they decide to get into Africa illegally, and even work the menial jobs on offer, even though they are young, in the peak of their lives and very much so educated professionals.

Call me conditioned by society but I felt weird, to say the least, to see an influx of Europeans into Africa, even if it was in a movie....Our reality is the reverse. Most, if not all people from the developing world dream of the 'better' life they can get in the First World.

And here in South Africa, people immigrate in droves for different reasons: the crime, the unemployment and Lord knows what else. I mean, even S.O and I have had fleetingly discussions about leaving the country. Somehow the oodles of optimism just post 1994 seemed to have dwindled and I too, a self confessed patriotic, have been having second thoughts seep into the edges of my mind.

There are signs that things are not looking good, but I sometimes wonder if people are seeing a hurricane in a tea cup. Or am I being naive? Will I change my mind about this country if I have to experience how it is to live in distant shores, and not feel scared all the bloody time about becoming a statistic to crime. Yes, I admit, I am so cautious to a point of paranoia. I mean, you know you are losing it when you do not feel safe in your own bed and think every noise is someone trying to break into the house. Or that every stranger on the street has malicious intent. Or when you are scared of stopping at a red robot because there is a chance you may get hijacked. Yes, paranoia is now my constant companion.

And what is even a further dampener on the situation is the book I am reading: Swahili for the Broken Hearted: Cape Town to Cairo By Any Means Possible written by Peter Moore. Yes, Africa is beautiful but there are the things like corruption and crime that has a way of seeping into the story. And his experience in Johannesburg in particular, was distressing. And when you see it in black and white and in a book, it's hard to deny the reality of they way we live.

So all of this just got me pondering about my love for Africa, being an African (even though I have been told numerous times that just because I am not of a certain hue I am not African)where I belong, if I do actually belong and where to from here.

As yet, there are no easy answers, but then again are there ever?


your travel companion_ said...

no answers here, just questions...
but i'd like to remind u of something:

"and all along the way, the richness of these journeys has been written on my body- each bump, each bite, each smile and each street- so that even if i never was an african, these journeys hav made me one"

me n my insatiable memory.. ;)

so remember that, keep searching, but know that we always find our way home_

Prixie said...

thank u my traveller-in-crime. ;p

i guess i will feel better eventually

singleguy said...

One. The rest of the world Aint so safe Neither....I think I'd be as safe walking the streets of Jozi, as I would the streets of New York....and from a terrorism standpoint, I feel safer in S.A.. Having said that, however, the level of home invasions and hijacking here must be higher than most countries, and I think it's this type of crime that is fueling our Brain Drain.

Two. The weather here is so much more temperate, and one can get most goods at less than crazy prices, so all in all I think quality of life is still good in here in good 'ol S.A.

One just has to be weary of their surroundings and personal space.

liam said...

am i gonna sound completely lame and naive if i say i found this really interesting and educational? well, it was.

Prixie said...

single guy: it is the level of weariness that concerns natural is it to be on high alert constantly?

liam: thanks for popping by...if I may ask, how did you find it interesting and educational?
Please do not get me wrong, I love this is home after all and it has given me more than I could ever give back, but there are those days when things just seem too much to handle.

The Organ Harvester said...

to be honest i have seldom wanted to leave sa. it has happened where i have sat with visa papers but at the end of the day, there is no place like home.

The Organ Harvester said...

to be honest i have seldom wanted to leave sa. it has happened where i have sat with visa papers but at the end of the day, there is no place like home.

bb_aisha said...

Bilal, OH, you, me-it seems this topic is on all our minds.

I missed Africa Paradise when it showed at Durban Film Fesival-but I really want to watch it.

Europe was once in the Dark Ages, time evolves, things change. I wouldn't want to see reversal of fortunes though-just all out equality.

liam said...

to answer your question, prixie, i was under the impression south africa was fairly advanced, though i suppose that's a relative term. and there's really no better source of info about a place than from someone who lives there.

Lotus Reads said...

Wow, what an intriguing premise for a movie, I must put it on my movie queue! The Peter Moore book sounds equally captivating. I read a book of his a long,long time ago, I think it was called "The Wrong Way Home" about his journey around the world.

I have read so much about the crime in South Africa, especially Johannesburg, but I kept hoping that it was just something created by the media (you know how they are prone to do things like that) but sadly, after visiting Johannesburg a few years ago and now, reading your post, I am reminded that it's all too true.

Are you thinking of emigrating to another country some day?

Also, are you facebook, if you are, just write me and let me know.

Prixie said...

OH: I guess there is always those nagging voices at the bag of my head...but now that Zuma has won the ANC presidency, I honestly want to head for the hills!

bb-aisha: goes with the territory of living in this S.African society. I wish Africa could come out of the rutt it is in...

liam; do not get me wrong, South Africa is an advanced country...even though we are still labelled a developing country.

Lotus reads: the emigration thought and conversation comes up pretty often, but it is not done as often. If life becomes unbearable and mocing is the solution, then I will do it.