South African expats open to idea of returning home

10 March 2016

Almost 400 Africans living in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe turned up for a meet and greet at London’s Park Plaza Victoria to learn more about how Africans living and working abroad were able to return home.

Homecoming Revolution, a recruitment firm for global Africans, together with its various partners including Brand South Africa, hosted the event on 4 and 5 March. It clarified the details and logistics of how Africans living and working abroad were able to return home, including information on careers, property trends, relocation services, education and immigration advice.

“People flew in from Belgium and France especially for the Brand South Africa Cocktail & Pam Golding Lunch, highlighting the level of interest among Africans in Europe in opportunities back home,” said Homecoming Revolution chief executive Angel Jones.

Employment, property and education

Attendees met representatives from top pan-African employers, including Agco, Bryanston Consulting, Guaranty Trust Bank, Ipreo, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Mace, MultiChoice and Africa Health Placements, to discuss career opportunities back home.

A presentation by Pam Golding Properties unpacked the intricacies and requirements of the current African property market. Advice and logistical details on repatriation and shipping were also presented by the White & Company international moving firm.

Schools such as Roedean School (SA), Kingsmead College, Hilton College, and St John’s College also exhibited, offering advice and information on schooling and education.

Homecoming success stories

In addition to a performance by South Africa’s only isiXhosa-speaking Jewish comedian, Nik Rabinowitz, who updated the expat audience – in his own unique, light satirical touch – on the challenges of living in Africa, the event also offered some enlightening homecoming testimonials and other expert insights into the continent.

Keynote speakers included Pumela Salela, Brand South Africa’s UK country head; Bankole Cardoso, Nigerian “homecomer” and entrepreneur; and Eddie Mandhry, the director for Africa of the Yale Office on International Affairs. Salela called the event “exceptional”, saying it was evidence of expats’ “greater emotional connection to Africa”.

Each attendee also received a Taste of Africa gift pack of uniquely African snacks and drinks, sponsored by Makro and AVI Brands.

Key trends

In her address, Jones told attendees that throughout the Homecoming Revolution’s research and interaction with Africa expats, four specific trends emerged regarding the desire for those living abroad to return to their home countries.

More young people

Jones explained that over the past couple of years there had been a marked increase in the number of young people expressing a desire to return home, adding that “70% of attendees at our London event were aged below 45. mainly young singles, newly married couples and families with small children”.

Africa is surprising, but so are its people

Like the saying went, “Africa is not for sissies”, the continent was full of surprises – some good, some bad – but, as Jones explained, its people were also determined to deal with those surprises.

“You can’t put Africa into a box. (its) unpredictability makes for a tenacious person. Risks are big (in Africa), but the rewards are even bigger.

Critical skill requirements are growing

“As industries across the continent evolve and diversify,” Jones said, “the need for skilled African diaspora professionals becomes ever more apparent. This was our most diverse employee event ever. While the event is usually top heavy in the financial services space, industries it covered now included consulting, construction, agriculture, health care, media, research and financial data.”

Johannesburg is a desired destination

While Cape Town and Durban have usually been the cities of choice for homecoming expats, according to Jones “more and more people are beginning to view Johannesburg as a preferred destination. In recent years, the city has shed its black sheep image in favour of becoming the continent’s career hub as well as a hip and buzzing urban centre.”

Eager to come home

Attendees were vocal about their desire to return to their countries of origin, and while they were realistic about the logistics of fulfilling that desire, they welcomed the assistance of Homecoming Revolution and its partners in making their desires easier to achieve.

“It was so inspiring,” said Danielle Lefebvre. “It gave me goose bumps and definitely. hope of returning in the future.”

Juanique Ferreira, who works in London, said the event helped her confirm what she had thought all along, that moving back home was the right thing to do. “I need to make it happen. Homecoming Revolution’s event has given me so much hope.”

Other attendees, including Nana Ocran, praised Homecoming Revolution’s dedication to bringing the message to expats, both the good and the bad of returning home. Jones’s passion, motivation and inspiring message from the continent made the concept of homecoming a positive, fun prospect. “Inspiring, thought-provoking and I feel absolutely energised,” said Ocran, adding that she was excited about. returning back home.”

Source: Homecoming Revolution South Africa