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Chicken Run Confessions

Chicken Run Confessions

by Dominico Tucci / 05.08.2010

Emigration. I used to laugh at chicken hearted people packing their bags every time the Rand lost ground against the Dollar and the murder rate spiked. I urged lost sheep to return from their populous commune in London to enjoy the wide open spaces of SA. My patriotism lived on my sleeve – an eternal optimist.

Then my family and I went abroad. People asked, “Are you going for good?”
I was defensive. “There are no opportunities in Europe. People live on top of one another. Winter is unforgiving. Crime is everywhere.”

We had a great time on the Continent though. Burnt through Euros and grudgingly returned. Something happened there. So slowly we didn’t notice.

Crime hit us in the face getting back. Violent crime. A friend was stabbed carrying her baby. Another hijacked. I drove into an armed heist in progress. All in a couple weeks. None of this is news here. We know the drill.

Then a passer by rang the doorbell. He had a friend’s tog bag. Taken off some opportunistic fellows. They’d seen it on the back seat of my friend’s car and helped themselves. Smashing the window in broad daylight outside our house. I snapped.

SA hadn’t changed while we were away. The change was in us. The belonging I once felt with the country of my birth, with my ancestors, with the vaunted Rainbow Nation, was gone.

Maybe it was gone before our holiday. Maybe we were too deep in combat mode to notice. Normalcy is absent here. I remember stopping for an espresso at a café in one of Joburg’s leafy suburbs. Armed guards with semi automatic machine guns were patrolling the street. I couldn’t swallow my coffee. Armed guards.

Malema, remember him, isn’t going to lose any sleep over me closing shop and heading for the hills. Salaries I paid, taxes I handed over and cash I put into the economy as a consumer will not be sorely missed. A few friends and my aging parents know I’ve gone. Otherwise, the definitive one way flight, a momentous moment for me, went completely unnoticed by the Nation.

So what is the point of my swan song?

Concern, I guess. South Africa is no place to raise two little kids. I am in exile in Italy for fear of Julius Malema. I don’t trust him. I don’t fear him. I don’t fear the misled who support him. I understand hate. I understand its origins and wellsprings. I would probably feel the same if I had grown up a Julius.

I am, however, terrified of everyone else! Good people, black and white, that couldn’t be bothered to say, “Enough.” Enough of Julius, enough of crime, enough of the corruption and scandal, enough of Robert Mugabe. There appears to be no limit. People are dying. People are being killed. Rainbow people. Doing nothing, saying nothing is complicity. I won’t be a part of it. Even though SA is my home. I never got to thank the guy who returned the tog bag. You are a shining light. I follow your example. From the relative safety of an old European continent.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    no one says enough because they take the easy way out and hop on a plane and disappear like you did. this article is very contradictory!

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  2. wo says:

    wo wo wo wowo wowowow wo wo wo wowow

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  3. Melanie says:

    90% of tax returns were filed online, which just goes to show who is paying the taxes and supporting an efficient social welfare system, while the AC enriches its cronies.
    Read “Ways of Staying” by Kevin Bloom for a heart wrenching take on the subject of emigration

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  4. Oh says:

    Single most important thing i ever did for my career here, was to go live in NY for a few years.

    If people are ignorant enough to believe seeing other cultures/ cities, is being anti-patriot, then let them be. Worry about your own shit. Keep it moving.

    But that being said, London and Australia? No, thanks.

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  5. BM says:

    It seems amazing that with your convictions you’d pick Italy for your exile. Silvio Berlusconi remains in power by suspending a judicial process that would have cleared the way for his trial and possible conviction on corruption charges. Sound familiar? Will you say something about that or remain complicit there too?

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  6. william says:


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  7. Eish says:

    your experience and your reasons for leaving are shared by many. our choice is simple – stick around and try and make a difference or become a whining middle-class refugee.

    ‘I am in exile in Italy for fear of Julius Malema. I don’t trust him. I don’t fear him.’

    say what??

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  8. creepy steve says:

    whites must go they don’t belong here

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  9. patrioot says:

    Eish, Why would moving make you a whining middle-class and staying not?

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  10. patrioot says:

    I agree with Steve, whites must go! Viva Malema, Viva!

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  11. immigrant says:

    When will people understand that emigrating is something intensely personal and not a blanket judgment you can pass on every person? It seems ridiculous that in an age where you can be halfway around the world in less than a day, we’re shackled to arbitrary borders and boundaries based on the lottery of where we happened to be born. Let’s make the borders dotted lines so that people have the freedom to live where they want.

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  12. violent boogie says:

    Did you not read the article? He said that no-one IN sa says anything. He is talking about the people who live here, not the one’s who have already left. Your comment is makes no sense

    given how whites have historically fucked the blacks, i wouldn’t like them either…and i are white

    i’ll stay until just before the end though…the fireworks will be fun…then i’ll go and live in the UK or Oz and worry about parking wardens for the rest of my life

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  13. K says:

    LOL, you emigrate to Italy, another corrupt country that has a record of shameful treatment of immigrants. I’ve lived there before, I loved it bec its a beautigul country but I hated the racism and xenophobia, and most irritating of all was Italy’s way of sweeping things under the carpet, nobody talks about Ethiopia or the Romani. Have you acclamatised to the Italian way of convenient amnesia? The ‘when things go, bad jump ship’ is such a common kneejerk narrative that I’m tired of hearing. We can do better people, its better to be an agent of change than sing swan songs meaningless, vacuous songs of Cry the Beloved Country…from a distance.

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  14. Phumlani says:

    Getting a bit intense there K. All that Dominico is trying to illustrate here is the bad state that our country is in and that as a civil society we are sitting back as inactive agents against the wrong doings of the current South African leadership. The essence of the article is “evil prospers when good people fail to act.”

    The article is not harping on about how people should move out the country as soon as possible and leave it to the greedy and corrupt. It’s merely a heads up to South African civil society to stop keeping our mouth closed. The choice to move to Italy is highlighted as a need to protect young children from growing up in a violent crime infested country. Nowhere does the impunity for the decision of others to bring their children up in this country occur. (does that not make it personal opinion/choice?) There also isn’t a boasting of greener grass on the Italian side either. So before you go off judging other country’s please recognise one thing. Most of the world was made in blood. Look at the formation of South African history it didn’t start with the white man landing on cape shores. It started with the San as well as their genocide at who’s hands? Who should be acclimatising to amnesia again? I forget.

    Thanks for your input and insight to contemporary Italia it is deeply valued and appreciated. By me at least.

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  15. Malome Tom says:

    wow, such a perpetual state of temporality – can’t be good for the senses. but for white people here, it forms a huge part of the emotional zeitgeist, i get it, almost. it must be awful to live in a land where your relationship to it is categorized by an ongoing disconnec.t (crime and its likes always serving to exacerbate this sense of dislocation) and at the same time a long bequeathed history, one that has always said that you’re entitled to live in this land, carve it out, even if it is at the expense of those who might share it with you. so you have this dichotomy, always playing itself out – a very strong sense of entitlement and an equally strong temporality. no doubt the state in a state somewhat, but it’s always interesting to note how the idea, “to or not to go” always seems to present itself as a solution to many of my white friends. and yes, some of my best friends are white

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  16. K says:

    Lol, Phumlani you’re the one getting intense, that passionate defence was quite sumthin. I don’t know where you get the impression that I need a history lesson, thanks but I’m quite learned in that regard, I’m not silly enuff to make assumptions that Africa was heaven before Whitey came with his guns and Bible. Fair enuff one of the motivations for the move was the fact that Dominic needed a nice place to raise his kids – I get that, but there’s alot more that’s said here and there’s no reason why the writer can’t be taken to task for his views. If he is criticising pple for being complicit with the state of things in SA, he has a responsibility to bear for moving away rather than being an agent of the change he seems to hope for. Is he anymore vocal about the state of SA now that he’s away? Following his logic on Malema now that he’s living in Italy is he complicit with Gianni Alemanno’s antics and the Liege Nord’s fascism? Emigrating is okay by me but cloaking a decision to move in all sorts ‘jump ship’ rhetoric richly deserves some side eyes and shaking of heads and far as I can see I’m well within my rights as a critic. Capito? Bene.

    p.s thanks, you’re welcome. i.e your thank you to me.

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  17. @ Immigrant says:

    “…we’re shackled to arbitrary borders and boundaries based on the lottery of where we happened to be born. Let’s make the borders dotted lines so that people have the freedom to live where they want…”

    Arbitrary borders…? Really…? Picture the scene…cannibals enjoing a protein rich meal of dog fed human flesh on one side of a raging river. Vegans on the other bank munching on carrots and lettuce. An arbitrary river…?

    Let’s make the borders dotted lines so that people have the freedom to live where they want…? O…K. Working out well for France? England? The US? South Africa?

    Your open mindedness seems to have caused your brain to drop to the dirty floor. I could agree with you if the people of this world were responsible and balanced beings who knew not wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. Whilst I do understand that the nations of the world need to work in harmony to ensure the survival of both man and the planet…the virtues of self determination cannot be underestimated.

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  18. Burn says:

    Millions of blacks waited in line to vote for corrupt,rapist Zuma..even when there is no service delivery..they still vote for him..let these milliions of dumb asses burn with SA..even the rich and middle class with their illegal tenders and affirmative action top paying jobs (that they cant do) will eventually burn..when the poor majority starts to riot…its a time bomb waitng to explode

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  19. snapper says:

    immigration is way too personal a decision to be discussed soley in terms of politics. maybe one of the reasons whites feel more open to the idea of emigration than the black middle class is that somewhere deep down we feel rootless. it wasnt that long ago that most of our ancestors came here and so the concept of ‘home’ isn’t quite as deep seated for us. plus the fact that most of us are far closer in culture to other anglo-saxon populations. still, nothing made me feel more like an African than living in the UK for 2 years.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Speak for yourself Snapper. I, as a pale south african, definitely do not feel rootless. I cherish the history of my ancestors and feel blessed to have the blood of these pioneers flowing through my veins. I feel tied to this land by the blood that they have fed this the soil (yes yes not only their own…but you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. )and the only ever time I would consider immigration would be as a refugee.
    That said…

    “A man’s homeland is wherever he prospers.”
    Aristophanes (450 BC – 388 BC), Plutus, 388 B.C

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  21. immigrant says:

    @ @immigrant

    imagine there’s no countries…

    It comes down to how much you want done for you and to you. If you’re comfortable having a nanny state wipe your bum in return for watching you shit, then that’s your fetish, not mine. Borders are arbitrary in the end. Some bureaucrat gets a good deal on real estate, and now Alaskans don’t get free health care. This square metre is mine, but you can have that one without the diamond mine.

    Apologies for coming off as liberal hippie scum, I hate to offend but the expensively fucked-up tango I’m forced into with Home Affairs has left me with a taste for anarchy.

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  22. @ immigrant says:

    “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.”
    Marcus Aurelius

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  23. Gary Carstens says:

    This made me very sad. I felt the same way when I came back from a year I spent in Europe. Now I choose to ignore the bad things in this country for the sake of wanting to be with the people I love, but I don’t feel for SA the way I once did. In a way I envy your strength to leave and pity you for having to leave behind the country you once loved. Well done, you have revealed an emptiness in me and made it starker. It’ll be gone in an hour, and I will stay.

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  24. JD says:

    Bring back survival of the “fittest”

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