A range of pro- and anti-South African websites has surfaced on the world wide web. Bate Felix checked some of them out and found that the question behind this raging debate taking place on these sites is whether to persevere or not.
“I’m compelled to help other South Africans get out of the country to ensure both their survival and a much higher quality of life in a foreign country. I left three years ago as all my family had left 1-2 years before, and I had been the victim of a hijacking on the hospital premises where I used to worked in Cape Town.”
This statement, posted on a website by a former Capetonian who emigrated to the United States, illustrates the attitude of a section South Africans who, in the face of unrelenting crime and other challenges the country is facing, have given up all hope, opted to emigrate, and are encouraging others to do so too.
But some don’t believe feeling despondent and opting out is the right solution.
“I’ve been fortunate to visit over 25 countries and so I think that I am sufficiently experienced to say that every country has its woes. The difference with South Africa is that certain sections of its population are obsessed by them, in some warped logic that one day they will be able turn around and say ‘I told you so’. It doesn’t matter what the government does, they will never be happy”, retorts Ian Matheson in Ireland
These comments encapsulate the current debate raging in cyberspace regarding the state of South Africa and how South Africans as individuals and as a collective, should and could contribute in seeking solutions.
Caught in the middle are those who, like Buddess writing from Port Elizabeth, are undecided whether to leave or to stay, asking themselves what they can do and how long should they persevere.
“I am one of those fighting the urge to leave,” she writes wearily, “I have two very small children and fear what will be left of our country for them one day”.
While some have abandoned all hope and have sought greener pastures abroad, the likes of Ian Matheson and many others writing on the Homecoming Revolution website, believe that South Africans are not persevering enough in the face of adversities.
For every website, blog or newsletters that emerges, urging South Africans to leave, rubbishing the country, the government, with gory tales of crime, filth and a total collapse of the society, an equal number emerges, not only extolling positive developments in the country, but also trying to rationally deal with the everyday realities, instead of taking an alarmist perspective.
The debate has once more been thrust into the limelight by a Cape Town insurance broker, Neil Watson who decided to start a controversial website www.crimeexposouthafrica.org, aimed at exposing the true nature of crime in South Africa and in the process, discourage not only foreign tourists but also put pressure on FIFA not to organise the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
No sooner had the website gone up that many like Peter Boshof, and twenty year old Capetonian Adam Barnes, launched their own websites – www.realsouthafrica.co.za and http://southafricamoving.blogspot.com to counter what they say is a one-sided negative portrayal of South Africa by Neil Watson.
Though the impact of these websites, blogs and newsletters would be hard to measure, the debates and arguments that go on in them, nevertheless underlines the significances of these questions to many South Africans.
Most people contributing in these forums are concerned by upsurge of violent crimes, especially couple with other social ills and a wanton disregard of human life as the examples of people killed for things less than a cell phone illustrates.
While websites like Neil Watson’s and others like http://escapesa.blogspot.com, http://getoutofsouthafrica.blogspot.com, and http://whysouthafricaiscrap.blogspot.com, which source and highlights crimes stories from various sources, including newspapers, have taken a pessimistic view and have even gone as far as encouraging and helping South Africans to leave, many others like www.sagoodnews.co.za and www.homecomingrevolution.co.za, have been set up to do the reverse.
Martine Schaffer managing director of Homecoming Revolution, said, “I find is sad that people are very misinformed about the realities of South Africa and when they create these blogs websites and put out this wrong information in it, most people who don’t have a complete picture of what is happening see things completely out of context”.
Schaffer said they don’t deny the fact that South Africa is facing problems, but how people respond to these problems and the solution they offer is what matters. She added that rubbishing the country and encouraging people to leave is not the solution, which is why Homecoming Revolution encourages South Africans who have left to return and urges them to persevere.
From comments left on their website, it seems many are heeding that call. Sue Cubitt who left in 1999 for the UK said. “I have decided to return to Durban to start my new life again in a country I can see has definitely emerged as an example of what perseverance and determination can prove,” she said.
“If your heart lies in SA, then that’s where you belong. NO matter how great a place might be, if your heart is not in it, you’ll be unhappy. Sure, there are problems in SA, but nothing that is insurmountable. Forty odd million people still call it home, and they all want a better future, and that better future is achievable,” concluded Soelyla in Germany who is also planning to return. – Heartlines Features.