Goodbye Germany: Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski intends to trek back to South Africa
(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).
I recently flew to South Africa to have a short holiday with the man I had fallen in love with. After spending five days in Johannesburg, I decided that within the next year, I will move back to my mother country.
Leaving Germany – with its modern, efficient business-like manner and thriving economy for the multicultural, often haphazard and conflicted country at the bottom of the world map is not an easy decision but one I am making for several reasons – the primary one being love.
Readers will probably ask why I left my homeland in the first place. In my case it was not because “blacks got in power” as many have cited as their excuse for leaving or that “the ANC is all corrupt” which is not anything I believe, I have voted ANC every time I go to the polls. So why did I leave in September 2003?
My family is German and I wanted to explore my heritage, I had reached the glass ceiling in my profession – journalism – the only way left for me was to become a desk jockey (news editor) and stop doing interviews which I did not want do – plus I was worried about crime affecting my small daughter. I moved with the family and cat to Hannover and my daughter redid her first school year in Germany. We’ve been here for 10 years now.
Germany has many plusses for children and free education is a definite plus. My teen is now studying philosophy and sociology at her high school and has many options for her future. She will stay to complete her education here as her complete schooling has been in German. If she decides to join me in future years, she will be welcome but that will be her choice.
I have enjoyed Germany – CDs and DVDs are plentiful and cheap, walking the streets at night is safe and a democratic exchange is encouraged. I have a handful of good friends from my local Greenpeace group and a girl buddy who is an Ausländer (foreigner) like me. My heart however, has remained in South Africa. I am compulsively following the political developments and have quite a few opinions about improving the lot of the poor – many of which I feel I could voice and implement positively if I were living there.
A few weeks ago I was walking the streets of Melville, hand-in-hand with my love, sitting at Xai-Xai drinking a Black Label and seeing old friends. We also went to Rosebank to hang out with younger cutting-edge journalists and sitting outside in the dusk, I realised that this would a great place to return to. However, it was a meeting at the Emmarentia Botanical Gardens under the winter skies, that sealed the deal.
It is wonderful finding a soul-mate, someone who shares your culture, your beliefs and your passions. Love is a scary thing – for us older types with baggage – we balk and run but sometimes we need to stand and let the magic work. My new partner is a South African with roots in Cape Town and a history in the anti-Apartheid struggle. I feel truly blessed by Mother Africa and God, too.
South Africa is a wonderful country – I was born in Durban, grew up in Pietermaritzburg, worked for many years in Johannesburg – now when I return, it will be to Cape Town. Many Germans will nod in approval – I only remember being there twice so it will be completely new for me!
However, regular readers will seeing my column for at least another year. I must be vernüftig (responsible) and will be actively working and ensuring my home here in Germany is looked after as I set up my roots in my new home back in South Africa.
I conclude with fitting schmaltzy pop lyrics by South African R&B diva, Vicky Sampson, “In my African dream; there’s a new tomorrow; my African dream is a dream that we can follow…“