Thabo Tabane (in his early days in England at Ipswich Community Radio Studio)

Growing up in South Africa as a young man with dreams bigger than one would ever achieve explains how I ended up spending almost half of my life in UK.

Dreams and goals are there to be achieved and the lower you set your goals and dreams, the lowest achievements you will settle for. But, the more impossible your dreams are the higher you achieve. Therefore, given the choice of studying in South Africa after high school or taking a gap year on a working holiday visa was and still would be a simple choice for a young man like myself then.

Fast-forward, 14 years later, I’m in the UK and a lot has happened since then. With lost properties worth millions of rands in South Africa and two beautiful daughters based in Britain, my dream remains focused on helping to make South Africa a better place with access to ‘Real Education’ offered in first world countries and practical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills.

The best decisions I have ever made was keeping my regular visits and connection with South Africa to identify continued needs of the country. Moving back to South Africa in 2005 until 2009 after my first daughter was born in UK, I also kept in touch with the UK, the country I came to call my lifelong learning zone and guide. Since 2001 my visits to South Africa have been also and more about keeping the family and community spirit alive.

Like I said it is good to dream the impossible, the more you realise you will settle for what humans are capable of, which is greater things than the mind can fathom, and leave “the Gods” to do the rest.

Anyway, my experience in UK has also made me realise how important it is for a country to have practical skills readily available for a country to flourish. Although, I realised the underlying truth is that many first world countries now flourish from a history of exploitation of fellow humans, and more recently acceptable than slavery, is cheap labour.

To be honest, there is no good explanation of cheap labour without stepping on someone’s toe. Cheap labour can be exploited through immigrants coming into a country, or by taking the company to another country offering cheaper labour costs to the company. This move may not be classed as cheap labour if the pay or wages to workers is sustainable, adequate and reflecting of the profit the company makes from such affordable labour.

Although I may be classed as either one of victims of cheap labour or a victim of modern day slavery, I count myself as one of the lucky few Africans who have had the opportunity to see the world in a much broader perspective.

And my experience in UK is one that made me realise that a developed first world is that which loses family and community spirit as the result rapidly accelerated modern civilisation. One that encourages capitalism, selfishness and the need to mind your own business while your neighbour suffers. One that promotes the closure of social clubs and growth of mental health needs within its communities.

Therefore my experience in UK encourages and motivates me to remain strongly attached and bonded with the Motherland, Africa, the land that feeds little to its poor and rich habitants and continues to feed first world countries that breastfeed from its minerals, resources and natural wealth.

But, behold, Motherland will still be left with enough to feed the rest of the world unselfishly for billions of years to come. What old, new and future investors and immigrants to Africa should learn from the Motherland, is to learn to share, family spirit and community spirit. These things I have come to realise the UK has lost over the years and continue to loose completely.

That is my experience in UK.

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