South African expats are amongst the thousands of visitors to South Africa enjoying the World Cup and many are spread across the world, feeling extremely proud of the way their home country is hosting the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
The Homecoming Revolution, the non-profit organisation encouraging South African skills to return, has seen an outpouring of emotion from South Africans across the globe as they watch their country’s perception change in front of their eyes.
“It is fantastic to see how the attitude has changed since the beginning of the World Cup. We have had so much negative publicity in the build up to the World Cup, including many of our South African citizens who really doubted South Africa’s ability to be such fantastic hosts and certainly provide the logistical imperatives of the world’s biggest event. This has all changed and the focus is on what a fantastic World Cup it is turning out to be – highlighting the massive problem of poverty but at the same time acknowledging the amazing amount of hope and inspirational people that make up SA,” says Martine Schaffer, Managing Director of Homecoming Revolution.
Giora Friede who left South Africa over 20 years ago, and is following his new home team, Australia, is very impressed by what he has seen. “The infrastructure development has been amazing. This highlights how capable South Africa is at developing world class structures and transport facilities. The other significant observation has been the uniting of the nation. I have been visiting SA for many years and I have never witnessed such a strong sense of pride in this nation. This represents a momentous opportunity for South Africa, and particularly the SA government, who now has a platform to continue developing the country in a way that involves all South Africans who are willing and committed to building South Africa from wherever they are.”
According to Carla Levin, a South African living in London, “Despite the bad press before the World Cup, the news reports since the start of the game have all been positive, and the England fans who have travelled to South Africa and who I have seen interviewed on tv, all seem to be having a wonderful time, enjoying the incredible hospitality of the host nation. I was one of the few hundred who gathered in Trafalgar Square to watch the opening ceremony on the big screen. The atmosphere was electric, and I am so happy I was one of the crowd. Despite having been away from South Africa for 18 years, I was proud to be a South African.”?
“Being at home in South Africa during the World Cup has reminded me what it feels like to be so very, very proud of your country. The flawless, world class organisation in the stadiums has had my jaw on the ground, the friendliness and helpfulness of every volunteer and police officer has astounded me, and more than anything the outpouring of joy, unity and celebration amongst each and every South African has made me feel so privileged to call this country home,” says Chrissy Dransfield, who recently returned to live in Johannesburg.?
Simon Newton-Smith, recent émigré from the UK via the USA said: “What SA has achieved in hosting the World Cup should make South Africa stand proud against all other nations. South Africans are generally negative and talk themselves down. The World Cup shows them their achievements are real. One just has to look at how the nation united themselves behind Bafana Bafana. If we can capture this motivation to unite and move forward, South Africa will undoubtebly be one of the major forces in the world. And I am very impressed that Johannesburg is being as treated as more than an airport stopover. I think it is one of the most exciting cities to live in.”
Paul Chambers watching the event unfold in London said: “Watching Port Elizabeth host England this evening was a hugely emotional moment for me. I am so proud of my place of birth. This World Cup will be huge for South Africa. South Africa has moved up the world league tables and will be seen in a different light. We need to use the same energy and urgency to tackle SA’s many social issues and I firmly believe that expats will help if given the right space. Who would have thought that SA would have come so far in such a short time.”
The Homecoming Revolution believes that sentiments like these will see an increase in people wanting to return to South Africa in the next couple of years. In the recent Adcorp Employment Survey, about 39 000 South African job seekers returned from foreign countries over the past year and they estimate that the number of foreign returnees is set to rise to 120 000 as foreign work contracts expire. This presents a massive opportunity for South Africa to capitalise on developing its skills base.?
The changing perception of the Rainbow Nation internationally is the biggest opportunity since 1994 for South Africa. The legacy this World Cup will leave will be as important as the hosting.
SA Good News