Living in the UK from the age of ten has provided me with ample opportunities which, I sometimes doubt would have been accessible to a girl from a single parent family living in Soweto.
There is a reason London is known as the world’s leading creative city. The opportunities for people to connect so easily from all different walks of life and career paths naturally provides a bubble of inspiration and innovation. Something that I have found in my recent trips back home, is still segregated by area codes, affiliation and wealth. However, that’s not to say that in the last ten years South Africa hasn’t developed in ways our ancestors did not and could not imagine. South African youth are no longer afraid to lead a life of their own design, express their creativity nor are they are afraid to challenge our politicians. Tony Gum and the Rhodes Must Fall protests as examples of this. This new sense of freedom has caused more and more of my peers, based in South Africa to collaborate and form long lasting, cross-Atlantic relationships through social media platforms.
However, not everyone has access to these privileges as of yet, in poverty stricken and deprived areas we see a rise in substance abuse and crime. As mentioned earlier, some of these freedoms are only in close reach to a certain caliber of persons in South Africa; for those who do not quite fit the categories of being educated enough, wealthy enough or seen to affiliate with the “who’s who”, causes frustrations and voids between youths. These voids are then filled with crime and substance abuse as a means of belonging to something that allows expression self or simply to be a part of a network system.
Although crime and substance abuse seem to be a larger part of the broken chain in South Africa, it’s not to say that the exact same thing isn’t happening in the UK either. For some of us expats who feel a sense of belonging is missing, especially when your family, friends and the life you previously knew was your DNA is thousands of miles away, its easy to fall in with the wrong crowd.
How do we combat this problem that’s denying our growth in innovation and creativity? We close the gap between the rich and the poor, the educated and uneducated, expats and locals through spotting the talent among our peers and nurturing it. We also need to communicate and share ideas, absorbing information from what we learn and invest it back into our motherland. We educate our parents on how to support us, we invite investors to take risks with us as we develop our talent; for it is down to us to create a South Africa that not only stands out and knows its worth when you reach OR Tambo International, but transcends its passion and character in every South African expat.
21 year old South African student living in London studying Magazine Publishing at the University of the Arts London.