Greetings from a #Shithole Country

South Africa no doubt qualifies as a shithole country, excuse my language, in the mind of the American President.  It is majority-black, has a government few people would deny is largely dysfunctional, has sky-high unemployment rates, and has an education system that is broken and leaves most of its citizens behind.

But why any of these traits should make South African immigrants any less worthy than those from, say, Norway, is baffling. It is not their countries and their governments and their unemployment they are bringing with them, it is their spirit.

Let me tell you a little bit of the South African spirit, Mr. President.

South Africans are #kind.

You won’t often get into a pickle in South Africa without people rushing to your side to help you out. Because they genuinely want to help, and because a true South African loves a challenge. This picture of me and my car with a busted tire somewhere in Madikwe circa 2010 about sums it up.

men repairing car tire in South Africa

I am not your typical damsel in distress. I have changed a few tires in my lifetime, as I too enjoy a good challenge. But I couldn’t even get CLOSE to my car on this occasion and was relegated to watching from three rows back.

There are too many examples of South African acts of kindness for me to name them all, but I’ve highlighted a few of them in Joburg, Capital of Crime. Excuse me, Kindness. (And yes, a shocking number of them seem to revolve around my penchant for flat tires.)

The United States could use a few more #kind people, because some of us are mean.

South Africans are #funny.

Fellow expat writer Barbara Bruhwiler lists some nice examples in her guest post America’s Got Talent. South Africa’s Got Humor. Rarely have I encountered such self-deprecating humor as in South Africa. Whether you stand in a long queue at a government agency, order food in a restaurant, or board your flight to Cape Town, you will encounter witty humor to brighten your day.

kulula airlines plane with funny slogan

And while we’re talking humor in connection to #shithole countries, watch the video below. Granted, Namibia is not South Africa, but South Africa ruled Namibia for the majority of the 20th Century before independence in 1990. A fact that is probably lost on our president, who thinks it’s called “Nambia.”

The United States could use a few more #funny people, because some of us can neither tell nor take a joke.

South Africans are #inventors and #entrepreneurs.

Perhaps this is born out of necessity, precisely BECAUSE you’re living in a “shithole” country. Wouldn’t that be the precise reason why we WOULD welcome with open arms those who have had to make a living against all odds, despite corruption and poverty? Think guys like Elon Musk, who hail from South Africa and make it big in the U.S. He is hardly the only one. A few years back, four of the first five winners of the US’s high-tech chief executive officer awards in the Silicon Valley Business Journal were originally from South Africa. That’s a staggering number! Read more here.

Perhaps there are immigrants from Norway with similar stories. Perhaps not. I have nothing against people from Norway. The point is that it shouldn’t matter at all where you come from.

Not that you can only prove your worth by coming to the U.S. – there is incredible talent among South Africa’s young entrepreneurs who seem happy to stay where they are and make their mark at home, thank you very much.

10 Entrepreneurs under 30 taking South Africa by storm

The United States could use a few more hard-working #entrepreneurs, because some of us are lazy.

South African immigrants are #educated.

In fact, more educated than the average American. This recent article in the Los Angeles Times summarizes statistics that support this point. It turns out that African immigrants, and South Africans among them, are significantly more likely to have graduate degrees than the native-born population.

What do you make of that, Mr. President? I shouldn’t ask. Facts do not seem to be something you concern yourself with very often. Perhaps a bit more education in your own quarter would help.

The United States could use a few more #educated people, because some of us are ill-informed, to put it nicely.

South Africans #LoveTheirCountry

Despite a teetering government, despite corruption, and despite the lack of opportunity for many, most South Africans deeply love their country. What gets lost in all of this controversy is this: Perhaps people aren’t even that eager to move to the United States?

In fact, there are many reasons why someone might consider moving TO South Africa as opposed to away FROM it, as I’ve outlined in Why Would People Want to Move to South Africa? Let me Count the Reasons. It’s a beautiful country offering an incredible lifestyle that most expats are reluctant to leave behind. My regrets about leaving South Africa are so numerous that they’ve formed their very own Missing Africa category here on Joburg Expat.

But love of country, like so many other things, isn’t something our president seem to actually understand. Considering that he’s doing his best to drag ours into the gutter.

If we randomly picked any recent immigrant to our country, no matter where he or she is from or what education standard he or she has attained, and made that person president, we would do the United States – and the rest of the world – a service.

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