Sitting on the shoulders of another South African abroad, expat Sarah Montgomery delivered a hard-hitting speech on Saturday in Trafalgar Square, London. Beginning with the words “I’m just a very ordinary South African”, Sarah’s words hit a chord with many other South Africans who no longer live in the country they still call home.
Whilst taking part in protests around the world made many South Africans abroad feel fantastically connected, some – like Sarah – also asked themselves why now?
“Where was I when the social grants system was on the brink of collapse,” Sarah asked the crowd. “Where was I when mentally disabled people died because of lack of social care… where was I when our education system failed school children all over the country… where was I when the one of the biggest chicken producers in the country saw fit to cut almost one and a half thousand jobs while the big bosses on top took fat pay-checks home… where was I when Cape Town land was sold for the development of a private school instead of used for affordable housing… where was I when our inequality levels continued to remain sky high despite almost a quarter of a century of ‘’transformation’.
“Why didn’t I march then?
“Am I, and others in my position, only willing to march on certain issues? What truly motivates me?”
Sarah then went on to reveal that the reason she – an expat living in London – was taking part in Saturday’s protest for the removal of President Jacob Zuma was because “you all convinced me”.
She said part of the reason was because “we have allowed him to get away with 10 years of impunity”… but that it is more than that.
“I’m here because I want to take ownership – even though I’m here in the UK.
Referencing a quote that had inspired her, Sarah said: “I want to take ownership by not letting today be my only political act, but instead letting it be a step in the process of humbly trying to engage with the ways our democracy and society is under threat…”
And she finished her speech by saying: “To end I say only this, forgive me for taking this long to march.”
South African expat mom and DA Abroad campaigner Hayley Reichert said: “I urge you all to listen not only to her words and the passion in her voice, but allow those words to filter through you and enable you to ask yourself the same questions.
“This speech aptly sums up what I feel is part of my own destiny as a proud passionate South African living in the U.K… to engage with other equally ORDINARY South Africans and empower them to realise their potential in making a difference, no matter how big or how small, towards the future of the most beautiful country with an incredible diverse nation of People.”
Watch Sarah Montgomery – My Choice to March for South Africa
Read Sarah Montgomery’s full speech here:
Photos from South Africans’ Protest in London, 8 April 2017
Photos by SUZETTE BUXMANN