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10 things South African emigrants miss about home

By October 5, 2015October 10th, 2023South African emigrants

10 things South African emigrants miss about home

October 5, 2015

Once you’ve been abroad for a while, your mind tends to throw a barrage of flickering memories across your path each day. Little recollections that make you yearn for home pester you around every corner. Gran’s cooking, mum’s hugs, the persistent giggle and banter of the neighbour’s kids on the trampoline… and, dare you say, even the rude hoot of the taxi trying to squeeze in front of you in traffic.

But the things you miss most? Those things which are uniquely South African. And yes, it’s true, even the bad things can make you feel homesick after a while.

We’ve compiled a little list of things South African emigrants miss when they’re abroad.

Things South African emigrants miss

The gentle temperament of the temperature

Our weather simply cannot be faulted. From the booming highveld thunderstorms to the misty midlands, snowy Drakensberg mountain-tops, easy climate of our coastline and assaulting sun over the Kalahari; we have it all. And, depending on where you are, you may even get four seasons in one day.

The customary clicks and clucks of daily life

We wonder what tourists in South Africa must think when they walk our streets. The crassness of our guttural drawl and explosiveness of our clicks and clucks as we tell our tales to each other are quite simply the sounds of South Africa. Whether Afrikaans, Xhosa or urban slang – our multilingual nation has a sound which is uniquely ours.

What’s a weekend without a braai?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re on some new-fangled Capetonian kale diet, or born a Free State boer who thinks of chicken as salad; if you bring it, we will braai it. Pizza? No problem – throw that baby on the grill. Sarmies? Put some salad (leave the lettuce) and cheese in it and we’ll braai that too. And, of course, nothing goes better with a braai than some good company and talk about the match, the kids, and the good old days.

If you can’t beat them, laugh at them

Just ask Leon Schuster and Trevor Noah – after we’ve cried about in a corner somewhere, we like to laugh about it. As a nation, we’ve learned to deal with life’s adversities through humour. In fact, our adversities quite often make for the best comedic material. We’re always up for a joke, staaltjie, or to bak a poets.

Our music and festivals

Of course you can find festivals across the globe, but none quite like the ones in the rainbow nation. Aardklop, Rocking the Daisies, Afrikaans is Groot, Splashy Fen, Afrikaburn, Hermanus Whale Festival, Cape Town International Jazz Festival and Knysna Oyster Festival – take your pick. These fests offer a range of local talent and produce that make our mouths water and our hearts melt, complete with thronging crowds who stay up way past bedtime.

Any holiday is just an hour or two away

Friday afternoons are the best, and not just because we can leave work behind for two days. Safas can simply throw a change of clothes in a bag and road trip for a mini vacation. Whatever your desire, a holiday, complete with climate change is just around the corner and over the ridge, an hour or two away.

What on earth did I just eat?

Short on cash? Don’t you worry, all you need is a hollowed out loaf of bread and a can of chakalaka and you have yourself an affordable bunny chow. If this doesn’t suit your fancy, you can always try some fried Mopanie worms or a slow-roasted sheeps head. In the mood for a salty little snack? Well, there’s a pick of biltong or bokkoms, and if you’re struggling to get the latter down, a swig of mampoer or maas will help you along. There truly is no taste like home.

It’s all about the game

We don’t really care whether the ball is round, oval, big or small – for South Africans it’s all about the game. In fact, we don’t really mind if there’s a ball at all. We cheer just as loudly for our olympic swimmers, as we do our cyclists, Springbokke, Bafana Bafana, Proteas and the Safa hokkie bokkies. Sport is so deeply entrenched in our national identity, it’s simply impossible for us to spend a weekend without some ridiculously loud cheering (and some harsher words at those refs and umps).

Impromptu candlelight dinners (a.k.a. loadshedding)

Life’s become progressively more romantic in the area around the Tropic of Capricorn and slightly east of the Greenwich meridian. Unfortunately the romance is not by choice, but still, we miss moaning about these things with our fellow saffas. We miss it as much as discussing the size of the latest potholes, latest e-toll bill and outrageous political antics in parliament. These may be problems, but they’re our problems.

Decembers are for partying

The brasse along the South African coastline may sigh and roll their eyes when they think of all the valies littering their beaches in summer, but there’s no denying it – Decembers are for sun and soaking in the sea. We’re sure there’s no other country where residents pack up their venter waentjies and scoot off en masse to the ocean to watch Father Christmas sweat his beer boep off come Christmas. It’s simply who we are!

We may be far, but we’re proudly South African.

Yes, no matter where you are in the world, there’s this place called home, and it’s unlike any other. We hope these memories will spread a smile across your face and warm away the melancholy (as well as the winter sun for our peers in the Northern hemisphere). is proudly South Africa and if you require any help with formal emigration, South African tax services or converting your retirement annuity or pension to cash, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

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