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By Citizen Reporter


Survey reveals what keeps South African expats tied to their roots

While expats may live abroad, it seems their gees (spirit) stays at home.

You can take a South African out of South Africa but you can’t take South Africa out of a South African … that’s why expatriates still cling to their roots. A new survey has identify the key elements in that connection.

Shared across more than 300 South African online expat social groups worldwide, it provides a fascinating look into the psyche of expat Saffas.

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An interesting aspect is the number of platforms and groups catering to South African expats, demonstrating the nationality’s dispersal across the globe. They clearly need to remain connected with fellow South African communities.

What is it that still connects them?

Rugby holds a special place in the hearts of South Africans. While expats may live abroad, it seems their gees (spirit) stays at home. Not only local South Africans have been on the edge of their seats with the nail-biting matches played by the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup in France.

The survey highlighted that 47% of respondents had an unwavering belief that the Boks will play in the final and win the Rugby World Cup; 32% were confident they would at least reach the final.

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South African expats still share a bond with SA’s sporting culture and heritage – truly, stronger together. The natural beauty South Africa has to offer is not lost on those abroad. It is still a top destination among SA expats, alongside travellers of other nationalities.

With the Christmas holidays around the corner, 37% of participants said they would prefer Cape Town as their vacation spot. The Kruger National Park was second at 17%, followed by the Drakensberg (11%) and the Natal Coast (nine percent).

The survey asked expats to name the dish they most regretted leaving behind: their choices ranged from malva pudding all the way to bunny chow and koeksisters. Of course, South African cuisine is known for its unique and savoury dishes, many of which are deeply missed by expats living far from home.

But what is most missed? Biltong is confessed as the special one with 27%, followed by boerewors (18%). South Africa has had no shortage of its own quirky gems when it comes to TV shows.

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In the survey, expats were asked about the most memorable South African shows they missed. The most fondly remembered was 7de Laan with 27% of the vote, followed by Egoli on 18%. That popular soap opera captivated audiences for over a decade before being cancelled in 2010. These are closely followed by Noot Vir Noot (15%), alongside Generations and Eastern Mosaic.

South African slang is such an ingrained component of our peculiar linguistic tapestry that we often don’t even realise when we use it in our everyday speech. But simple terms such as “robot” or “bakkie” will often leave foreigners perplexed.

How well do South Africans adjust abroad?

Interestingly, 26% of respondents admitted to using lekker most often, while 36% proudly stated that braai is simply not the same as barbecue. Understandably, many expats still greet others with howzit (12%), while 13% still say eish (which perhaps cannot be said in any other polite way).

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Unfortunately, the survey fails to highlight the demographics of the South African expat population abroad.

According to Thomas Lobban, head of expatriate tax residency at Financial Emigration: “The type of individual leaving South Africa is no longer one with established wealth and years of experience under their belt.

“These days, most individuals leaving South Africa are still in the early stages of their career, evidently seeking better opportunities and security abroad, often between 30 to 45 years of age.”

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While it does highlight the significance of shared experiences, traditions and cultural touchpoints that continue to unite the people of the country, being shared with over 300 online social groups, the survey results underscore the presence of South Africans across the globe.

And no matter where they are, the heart of South Africa still seems to beat strong.

– news@citizen.co.za

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Rugby World Cup Springboks (Bokke/Boks)