Jun – Aug 2020
Johannesburg, South Africa
A proud father of four Lefu is a science and maths teacher by profession. He originally started university with the intention to study engineering. While on the course he realised it was not the right path at that time for him.
After a period of reflection he changed courses, embarking on a programme of study that led to him qualifying as a teacher.
He attended university in Johannesburg, moving there from the municipality he was raised in called Qwa Qwa, in Free State, South Africa. Qwa Qwa is one of the parts of the country where the Basotho people originate. Lefu is fluent in English and his mother tongue Sesotho.
Moving to the city was a real eye opener. The norms he was accustomed to in Qwa Qwa which convey respect and consideration for others didn’t seem to be as universal in the city. Seeing vagrants for the first time was both shocking and disturbing. The culture shock bourn out of the anonymity of city life is of course a universal theme. Experiencing this first hand he was having to adapt accordingly.
Lefu readily admits there are some great things about city life, such as the transportation network, arts, cultural and sports facilities not to mention a plethora of clubs and societies; more importantly employment prospects are good for those with the right qualifications.
After finishing his Batchelor’s and teaching for some time he went on to complete an MSc, specialising in ‘Mineral Economics’. He is contemplating studying for a PhD and feels the UK would be an ideal place to do so. He feels Oxford or Cambridge would be ideal, however, he will need to balance his choice of institution with the needs of his family who will be coming to the UK with him. He is already considering employment opportunities with the intention of starting a teaching job in the UK later this year.
He cites the reasons why family is so important to him;
* It provides him with a sense of belonging, love and acceptance.
* It teaches me how to love and care for others
The safety of his family is of fundamental importance to him. Living in Johannesburg has engendered a desire to prioritise a safe environment.
Well aware that there are different dynamics between South Africa and UK in terms of crime. He is also aware that the picture is mixed in terms of the comparative safety of one place to another within the UK. Then there is the cost of living as well as social and racial dynamics which also differ within various parts of the country.
It is indeed an uncertain time but one that he is dealing with soberly.
While our discussion touches on safety Lefu asks for my opinion on safe and affordable parts of the UK that I am aware of. We also spend some time talking about different types of criminal activities we see reported on the news in our respective locations.
One of the aspects that appear similar between South Africa and UK is the perception and assignation of blame with regards to foreigners where matters of crime are concerned. It’s interesting how locals can come up with percentages about the proportion of people from another nation committing crime in their country where such figures are not backed up by evidence. On a more general note there is also the shared perception that foreigners are there to steal local jobs.
Our discussion moves on to misconceptions people have about South Africans. He feels people perceive them to be lazy, illiterate and Afrofobic.
In so far as I can tell, I feel once such people interact with Lefu, their opinion about South Africans will have to be revised.