When I first moved to England in 2006 I always knew that I would eventually make the move back to South Africa, I just never knew how or when. I can’t depict the exact moment I decided that I would take the leap and move back to SA. It’s always been at the back of my mind but never something I seriously thought out.
In my mind I always imagined I would move when I was well into my career and had made all the right connections and moves. However after a really difficult year in 2017/18 I decided that this was the perfect time to take a break. So I bought my ticket in January 2018, for December 2018. I decided that I would only tell a select few as I still couldn’t believe that I was really going to make the move. Throughout the months I just kept the move at the back of my mind and carried on with my education and life as it was.
Fast forward to December, I had managed to save a few coins from working after my exams and I was off. Luckily for me, my brother and my sister in law where going home for December so for the first month it felt like I was on holiday. I don’t know for other African countries but December in South Africa is a whole mood. Most people get a 13th pay cheque or have leave for most of December so my hope of getting anything done in December was going to be a myth.
The extent of ‘December mood’ in SA even extended to the government who said that there would be “no load shedding for the whole of December.” I suspect that they knew people have money to spend and didn’t want to miss out on that. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of ‘load shedding’, it’s basically where electricity is shut off to prevent excessive overload on the power plant. What happens is that the government will release a schedule for load shedding normally averaging around 4/5 hours without electricity although as of recent there’s been areas going without power for over 12 hours. I experienced my worst share of load shedding in February where we had no electricity for 4 days. I can’t even begin to explain the pain. No electricity started to affect the water and our diets suffered as we were forced to have take-away every day and eventually, it became sickening.
I felt like I only started to sort out my life in South Africa, in January. This meant starting afresh and getting all the basics such as a tax number, bank account, SIM card and proof of residence. It also meant verifying my certificates from the UK which was the lengthiest process of my life! I don’t mean to complain, but the rate at which some things are done here in SA is enough to make me go insane – but I’m not shocked. I expected it. In the private sector there is a bit of a quicker pace but still not what I am used to. But hey, let me not complain.
I have been here for four months now and it has really been a journey and a half. There have been some shocks to my system but I’ve been trying to take it all in stride and always keep it moving.
Assimilating back into South Africa and it’s culture has definitely been an experience. One of the small cultural differences is how friendly everyone is and how everyone always greets you in public. When I first moved here I would ask my cousins/friends, “do you know her?” thinking that everyone knew each other, but it was really just the norm to greet everyone. The courtesy is even extended when entering a public bathroom which is something I’m still getting used to. In the UK everyone tends to keeps it moving and it’s very rare for a person in the street to randomly greet you – but we move!
One of my favourite things about being back in South Africa is the sense of opportunity. I’m not sure if I am speaking from a place of privilege, but I do feel like there is an upsurge of opportunities that I could only dream of in the UK. In my field of Law it is such a breath of fresh air to see black lawyers in court rocking their Afros and owning their own law firms. When I was looking for a job I came across so many black influential lawyers who were willing to help me get to where I needed to be without any hesitation.
I start my new job at the start of April and I’m really looking forward to getting some international experience and making the life that I want for myself here in South Africa. I have so much to do. Moving to a different country feels likes starting life all over again! But as I always say, we move!
Nozinhle Sibanyoni, sharing her experience of moving back to South Africa. From culture shock to meeting inspiring people in her field of Law, Nozinhle opens up about the positives and negatives of settling in her home country.