This time last year we had just arrived in South Africa. We were equipped with our one year visa and felt anxious and excited as we anticipated the future. So we have now been here a year and guess what…
We’ve run into visa problems!
We applied for a two year extension and were only given three months. Hopefully home affairs are in the process of sorting the issue now. We’re not worrying about it as we have done all we can for the moment. However we do have some concerned neighbours here in Sosh.
The fact that they are concerned reminds us of the connections that we have formed with people during our time here. Our community were open to these strange white people moving in and trying to learn what it means to live here. They have been patient with us as we make cultural errors and listened to us as we stumble through a new language. They have been concerned for us as we walk down the street in the dark (only very occasionally!) and generous with their hospitality and time. We can safely say that we have made many friends here.
Before we moved to SA we had been hearing how dangerous the country was, especially in the townships. The majority of our experience has been positive and it is only a minority who are out to harm. However the people of SA sometimes suffer from a fear of the unknown. Many white South Africans are shocked when they hear that we live in Sosh.
After a 4.5 hour wait in the Visa office the other week we popped into a café to grab a well deserved treat. As we were studying and making future plans with the menu, we started chatting to one of the employees. He asked us where we stay and we gave our reply expecting the usual response. We weren’t disappointed and we even got an additional expletive. He followed up by showing a self-awareness, that South Africans have a great fear of what is different or unknown and it’s sad that people have to come all the way from Scotland to move into a township.
I would love to see more white South Africans venturing into the townships. It would be another giant leap forward for the racial equality in the country. If more people learned the names and stories of those who are ‘different’ they would see each other as human, and it would help towards society moving forward together.
We hope to be able to stay here for another two years, to continue learning from our wonderful neighbours and dreaming together of a new South Africa.