With South Africa sitting with over 4 million foreigners living in our beautiful country (According to IOM in 2017) and many more who are not accounted for, our country is without question, a place of opportunity.
Unlike first world countries though, integrating yourself and your family into a new world is far less hostile and challenging than in SA. We have all seen the vast sums of xenophobic attacks on foreigners, with hate and anger towards these opportunity seekers hindering their chance at a better life in their new home.
As human beings we tend to run on opinion and not fact, so true to form, the Newcastillian needed to tell the story from the horse’s mouth, in order for us all to understand their world better. This is what two foreign nationals had to say:
Kone Mamadu moved to South Africa from the Ivory Coast in 2007, searching for a life with bright prospects and a glimmer of hope.
“While I will always miss my home in the Ivory Coast, I had to leave due to the political unrest. South Africa seemed the ideal place to start my new life.”
Making his way to South Africa, his first stop was in Johannesburg. “One of the biggest challenges I faced when moving here was getting the necessary documentation in order. From there, I would say integrating with others was another difficulty I faced.”
However, his determination proved to be unrivalled and that same year, he made his way to Newcastle, believing the community to be one filled with prospect. Shortly after moving here, he opened a clothing store and got started on his new life.
“South Africans are very welcoming. As for the country itself, there are not too many issues to actually complain about. I have found that if you just do your thing, remain positive and friendly, no one really disturbs you.”
Would he ever go back to the Ivory Coast?
“While I do miss the Ivory Coast and I go back to visit every year, Newcastle is now my home. I intend to stay here for as long as possible,” he smiles.
Kone Mamadu is not the only person who moved to South Africa in the pursuit of a brighter future. Alex Liu is a man who needs no introduction to Newcastillians.
“My story of moving to South Africa goes back to the days of Apartheid,” Alex explains. At the time, the previous government was offering incentives for foreign investors.
“The founder of the IFP, Mangosuthu Buthelezi visited Taiwan several times during that period and spoke to several people. My parents then came to South Africa in 1989 to learn more about the investment opportunities before eventually moving here in 1991.”
Still a youngster at the time, Alex finished his studies and did his service in the Chinese army. From there he moved to South Africa to assist his parents in their factory in 1993.
From seeing the Apartheid regime and its consequent fall, Alex explains his journey has been an educational one.
The joys he has experience are at times linked with the very challenges that he and other South Africans face.
“South Africa and Newcastle have great potential, a wonderful environment and great infrastructure. It is now for the young generation to create the improvements we need, as there has been no development to the infrastructure for the past 27 years.”
One of the greatest challenges he has faced during his time in Newcastle has been one of safety and security.
“It is, unfortunately, a social issue which is caused by the high unemployment rate and insufficient law enforcement. The Chinese community is also a soft target, because of the language barrier many of the community faces and therefore we don’t always report incidents of crime.”
While concerned about an array of issues faced by South Africans, such is his love for Newcastle and South Africa that Alex entered the South African political world in 2006. As a councillor for the IFP, he is now a true South African, striving for the changes he wants to see in our great community.
Kone Mamadu and Alex Liu remind us what makes our town and country truly special. Also, that as South Africans we need to reset ourselves and get back to making our country great. Newcastle is a town of promising potential and a beacon of light for those striving towards a better future.
Come read more interesting articles in the latest issue of the Newcastillian – Online Magazine.