In response to businessman Mike Abel’s letter to South Africans abroad, passionate SA activist in London – Hayley Reichert – has penned the following letter. PLEASE NOTE: *Disclaimer: this is an opinion piece*
Dear Mike… with love from the expats.
A response to Mike Abel’s open letter to the expats of South Africa.
Read Mike’s letter first.
Please do not be disheartened by the ‘I-told-you-so’s’… they most likely also fall in the category of ‘when-we’s’.
Like many expats (actually, I intensely dislike that word), we have cried our hearts out this week. I never went to sleep on Monday night, following the comms of fellow Durbanites braving the unknown to protect my home city right through until others in the city woke up and the line was abuzz with questions of how to get to work or where to find bread or petrol. Listening to the sounds of gunfire whilst our men called for backup and hearing a civilian had been shot in crossfire on Avondale Road truly broke my heart. I am listening.
We, as expats, are listening.
Watching my hometown of Waterfall get trashed, and then Hillcrest, Kloof, Pinetown, Morningside, Berea, Queensburgh, Durban North, Phoenix, Isipingo, Escombe, Malvern… and all the suburbs across Greater Durban… I sat on the floor of my shower with the water pouring over my head and I ugly cried. I cried for my dad, his partner and kids. I cried for all my friends. I cried even harder for those who have not had an income for the past year or more, and I cried for all those who have just lost their jobs, their businesses and for everyone affected by this cancerous evil.
This is now time for a complete reset. You have bound together without question to put out the fires caused by Zuma. Now it is time to also remove the burnt firewood of poverty, inequality and unemployment so you can water the ground beneath and nourish what will grow in its place. Tomorrow is Mandela Day- it is up to us to uphold the dream he and so many others fought, suffered and lost their lives for.
A friend called last week frustrated about the poor consular office services to renew passports and mentioned his employer may be investing billions into our country over the coming years. We need to find ways to ensure they still do.
You are 100% correct, South Africa is the very essence of who I am today. Those back home and abroad are working together to drive international awareness through the media and contacting local MPs in their countries calling for urgent national government level discussion on the situation back home. We have the loose nuts and bolts coming together for a foreign aid project which I believe we will need to sustain for at least 2 years. We understand the long-term ramifications this will have on the vulnerable and those who will become vulnerable because of this travesty.
Most who know me consider me to be the eternal optimist (to the point my nickname is RSP – Rainbow Shitting Pony), but what I say next is going to be deemed as fearmongering from a pessimist. I however prefer to think of myself as a realist. My viewpoint is certainly not a popular one and I sincerely hope I am proven wrong. I will gladly and publicly eat as much humble pie that is served to me!
Zuma stole the money, not for Nkandla, but to train and arm his troops. The names Hitler and Stalin come to mind. People have mocked this man for being an idiot for years, but he is a cold calculated trained psychopathic killer. Do not be fooled. He knows his time is coming to an end and he has not managed to achieve what he set out to do as he had to patiently wait for his turn to be in control. He wants to be known for a legacy of revolution. This week has been a test. Everyone is shocked but now full of fluffy warm feelings having reunited to clean up. Do not get me wrong – the fact that this series of events has finally broken through that barrier that has haunted SA for generations, is ground-breaking. I cannot even begin to express how bloody proud I am for everyone uniting across divisive barriers for one common cause, and a cause that is not cheering for a Springbok win!
Zuma’s people, however, are watching. They see how tired you are. They see how little ammunition you have. They see how quick you panic when you cannot access essentials. This is calculated guerrilla warfare and they see you as weak and naïve. This is the beginning of an uprising. They will come back, and when they do, they are coming thicker, faster, harder, and better armed. And they will continue these waves to exhaust and break your human spirit of ubuntu. They have been brainwashed into believing that genocide and ethnic cleansing is necessary for the dawn of a new era, a revolution. Has African history not taught you anything?
They will be sending a second test on KZN and Gauteng if their demand to release Zuma is not met within the next 14 days. They do not care about the loss of innocent lives because those who do not follow their army, are not black or Zulu enough in their eyes. They are hitting you because you are the core of our nation’s economic activity. Western Cape do not think you are immune. They will hit you hardest. You are deemed as white DA country and they want revenge for what our white ancestors have done to this land.
It is lovely seeing everyone so passionately united in a time of despair – that is what is brilliant about our nation, and that essence is what makes us a force to be reckoned with. So, my advice to every single good, hard-working, ordinary South African is this: Prepare yourselves for battle. You have stood up and shown yourselves to be the true rainbow nation this country has fought so hard for, do not let go of that or be blindsided as you will be caught off guard. Do not be fooled – the storm is upon you.
Be brave. Stare at this devil in its face and whisper ‘we are the storm’. Those of us abroad are adopting the view ‘hope for the best, prepare for the worst’.
To quote snippets from Thabo Mbeki’s famous speech:
‘We owe our being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land… I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home in our native land. Whatever their own actions, they remain still, part of me… I have seen the concrete expression of the denial of the dignity of a human being emanating from the conscious, systemic and systematic oppressive and repressive activities of other human beings…
And so, like pawns in the service of demented souls, they kill in furtherance of the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal…We are assembled here today to mark their victory in acquiring and exercising their right to formulate their own definition of what it means to be African. The constitution whose adoption we celebrate constitutes an unequivocal statement that we refuse to accept that our Africanness shall be defined by our race, colour, gender or historical origins. It is a firm assertion made by ourselves that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. It gives concrete expression to the sentiment we share as Africans, and will defend to the death, that the people shall govern.’
One of my most treasured memories was spending a Christmas morning down at Inanda dam where up in the hills we could hear a congregation singing. There is no sound more beautiful than our South African brothers and sisters in harmony. We have heard your songs on social media following this week’s devastation. We cannot all talk at once, but we certainly can all sing at once so keep singing South Africa, keep singing.
We love you. We are proud of you. And whilst we may not be on home soil, home will always be in our hearts. We wish we could be defending our communities on the streets alongside you, but we will defend and support our country from wherever we are abroad.
For the last 27 years we have been asking ourselves ‘when will the real rainbow nation stand up?’After decades of oppression and suffering, after 27 years of false freedom, YOU THE PEOPLE have finally shown the world what it means to be a true South African.
My fellow citizens, we can now proudly say the real Rainbow Nation has finally stood up. We may be shaken but we will not be moved.
United we stand, divided we fall. One true, safe and prosperous South Africa for all.
Written by Hayley Reichert, a passionate and proud South African activist in London. Republished on SAPeople with Hayley’s kind permission. Please see her original letter here.