Goodbye, the beloved country

Goodbye, the beloved country - by P.K.Odendaal - December 2013 

I am emigrating from South Africa to Canada in February 2013. 

The progress in South Africa had just become too much for me. We have climbed every ladder and list of dubious goals in the world, reaching for the top of each. Although we have not reached any of the top positions yet, we might, with some perseverance, reach them soon. These lists include the most corrupt country, country with the highest crime rate, country with the highest murder and rape rate, and other such coveted accomplishments.
Our murder rate for a peaceful South Africa is still in excess of those killed in Syria at the height of their civil war, and far in excess of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq - what a noble feat. Peace has never been so violent. 

In the unlikely event of me being unbiased, I, or any other person, bemoaning the present slide of South Africa into the cesspool of failed states, will only be defined by one of two words. If you are white, you are a racist, and if you are black you are a counter-revolutionary. I have no appetite for the Stalins of Guevaras of this world, so I will let Alexander Parker speak - a man much more able than I am on the South African political situation. From his book:  'Fifty people who stuffed up South Africa'
When, in years to come, the history of this time in South Africa is reviewed, it will surely be with a sense of considerable shock - something akin to the detached sadness that accompanies an account of distant horrors, such as the slaughter at the Somme, the atrocities of the Nazis or the madness in Rwanda. How else will our descendents be able to make sense of the low-level attritional war waged on the civilian population of our country in the 1990s and 2000s and, possibly the decades to come? One can only hope that, at the very least, it causes a sharp intake of breath.
Because when we read the headlines in the morning and watch the news in the evening, surely something is wrong with the story we're being told: that fifty South Africans a day are intentionally killed at the hands of others; that Johannesburg and Cape Town regularly vie with the likes of Caracas in Venezuela and Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana in Mexico for the title of Murder Capital of the World.
Our hands are all wrung out. Our supplies of adjectives and hyperbole and indignation and rage are spent. Crime is everywhere; it's just how it is; the order of things. And this really is a war. This is what civilian populations have suffered during times of conflict immemorial. For comparison, consider briefly the US-led invasion in Iraq in 2003, which, according to the Iraq Body Count project had caused around 105 000 civilian deaths up to October 2010. Over the same period, the South African murder rate beat that figure by something in the region of 30 000 - the ultimate Pyrrhic victory.
I quote from one of Roger Whittaker's songs: 

Have you seen the old man
In the closed down market
Kicking up the papers,
with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
AND held loosely AT his side
Yesterday's paper telling yesterday's news

Chorus: So how can you tell me you're lonely,
and say for you that the sun don't shine,
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of (Witbank)
I'll show you something to make you change your mind. 

So instead of giving you facts and figures, I will take you by the hand to the streets of Witbank, to show you something to change your mind. I must however state that this condition of the country cannot be blamed on any one person or group. It took the concerted effort of the British, Afrikaners, Zulu, Xhosa and other parties a few centuries to execute this.

Translated: Crime and politics make business people leave the land
The six main reasons why people emigrate today: 

Reverse apartheid                               47% in 2102 - 29% in 2011
Collapse of health care system              48% in 2012 - 22% in 2011
Collapse of education system                 48% in 2012 - 27% in 2011
Collapse of police and justice system      74% in 2012 - 62% in 2011
Political climate                                   70% in 2012 - 47% in 2011
Better business prospect elsewhere:       40% in 2012 - 31% in 2011
For me it was much rather the violent nature of every section of the community and the collapse of services and infrastructure. I can be glad if I have running water on more than two days in the week - and a very dirty virus infected water at that.

 The load has just gotten too heavy : Three million taxpayers support 16 million people on social grants and 20 million people unemployed. 
The tarred street on my way to work - has not been repaired for three years. In South Africa (and Africa) gravel roads were predated by tarred roads.


The poor who cannot afford refuse removal do their own across their street.

I cannot visit our park anymore, due to the risk of gettting murdered or mugged - and who would in any case like to visit such a paper strewn park?


The more affluent people, like myself, still receive the weekly refuse removal service on a monthly basis.


Two of the more recently developed suburbs in our city.

Squatting in the main street