Tue, 14 Jul 2020

Not all states of depression can be lifted

13 Aug 2019, 22:15 GMT+10

Dear Mandy

Not all states of depression can be lifted. I know, SA has been bipolar since Sharpeville - when the first and most politically sensitive of my friends' parents started pulling up roots and saying goodbye. That was followed by an emotional rollercoaster wherein sometimes we were up, and some ex-pats would trickle back, and times when we were deeply down and more of my friends would leave.

White emigration occurred in waves. The panic was infectious. But those of us with deeper roots, or shallower bank accounts, or stronger emotional or ideological connections, we stayed and watched as the removal vans loaded up and drove away. I practised law (which is not an exportable qualification) and one day as I was standing at the lift foyer saying goodbye to clients who had just collected the proceeds of the sale of their property a day or two ahead of their final departure from SA, after which I would never see them again, a thought occurred to me: how many times had I played out this very same scene? How many more times would I have to do so? How many good clients, good friends, beloved family members, have been and would in future be my co-players in this show?

I have lost more clients, friends and family members over the years, than I could ever replace. And some of them - most of them, actually - were irreplaceable anyway. We're not talking about light-bulbs here, after all. Even my children and my grandchildren went eventually. And now we're trapped by a crippling exchange rate and immigration qualifications that we can't meet in first-world countries.

And Ramaphosa is trapped by forces that he can't control: he has to trim our useless, bloated, incompetent labour force to the bone (and it's probably too late for that anyway) but he can't do that because he'd have a bloody revolution on his hands - caused either by a crime-wave driven by the army of the unemployed, or by the labour unions, followed by totalitarian rule to keep a lid on the volcano.

Many years ago Clem Sunter said that for us the High Road would be to follow the example set by Brazil - not Europe. But our compass was a bit off, and we're heading for Venezuela.

As I see it there is but one hope for SA whites now: when the tsunami comes, we should be able to claim refugee status in the first world, which we can't do yet. Wait for the wave but for God's sake, don't miss it!

Harry Friedland

Sea Point

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