Fighting for Their Homeland

Letter From South Africa

South Africa has rarely been out of the headlines in 2018.  In late February, the South African government voted to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land from white farmers without compensation.  The vote put an international spotlight on the many problems plaguing the country. In January, President Donald Trump was reported to have referred to several countries, including African ones, as “shithole countries.”  This prompted a representative from the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s largest political party, to issue a response which opened with the words “ours is not a shithole country.”

I recently moved out of South Africa with my husband and our two young children.  We had arrived there in late 2015 for my husband to start a postdoctoral fellowship.  Our home was in a small city called Potchefstroom, located about two hours by car from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, the capital of South Africa.

Donald Trump had yet to utter his infamous phrase, but I had not lived in South Africa long before I started to concur.  To me, everything in Potchefstroom was dirty and broken.  There was nowhere to go and nothing to do.  The tap water was not safe to drink, so each week we schlepped big containers of water from one of the “water shops” located on virtually every street corner.  Whenever I went out, I...

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