Tinyiko Chauke from South Africa talks about how his perceptions have changed after a year in Ireland

pretoriaTinyiko arrived in Ireland a year ago from  South Africa.

When Tinyiko arrived here it wasn’t easy for him. The cold weather came as a shock, he didn’t know anyone, he was homesick and became very ill as well.

A lot has changed since then, and his perceptions have changed as well.

First if all Tinyiko says that West-Cork, where he’s living now is one of the most beautiful places in the world. He loves the green landscapes, the rivers and the sea.

He also thinks the West-Cork farmers are extremely kind and helpful.

Tinyiko doesn’t think racism in Ireland and Europe is as bad as it is described by some Africans. He thinks that everyone has the right to choose their friends. Sometimes people just don’t click. That is normal, but if a white person doesn’t like a black person it is easily interpretted as racism, which is not necessarily true.

Of course racism exists in Ireland and Europe, he says. Just like it does in South Africa and everywhere else.

He thinks there is a much bigger problem with racial divide in the USA, but because he has never been in the US and only gets this information from the media and social networks, he prefers not to make a statement about that.

He also looks in a different way at his own country and Africa as a continent.

Tinyiko thinks Africa can learn a lot from  Europe, but Europe can also learn a lot from Africa.

Europe and Africa both have their own challenges. What Europe needs to learn is to tell the negative  stories as well as the positive ones. Europe is not the paradise a lot of Africans think it is. There is poverty in Europe as well. he thinks Europeans can learn from Africans not to live to work, but to work to live, because living to work only leads to a life of bills and debt.

Europe also needs to be open about the discrimination that is still happening there. He also thinks that social welfare can sometimes lead to there not being an incentive to work, because it seems that you can live well enough on social welfare, although of course he does agree that countries have to take care of the disadvantaged people.

Tinyiko is very impressed with Europe when it comes to Accountability, transparency and freedom of speech.

What Africans can and must learn from Europe is all about this accountability and transparency. Africa needs to root out corruption and needs to come up with policies that create investment and employment opportunities.

There needs to be more solidarity between African countries and Africa needs to empower its people. Easy movement within Africa needs to be made possible as well. But before this can be done other problems need to be solved; like for example the fact that some countries don’t have a database of their own citizens.

According to Tinyiko, immigration is a problem everywhere and it won’t go away. The world has become one global village because of technology. Therefore he thinks that Europe really needs to be very open about the problems it faces, this would help people to make more informed decisions.

It would be good if Europe would partner with Africa as equal partners and try and find solutions for the infrastructure problems, investment and employment creation, democracy and rule of law.

But first Africa has to deal with rule of law and democracy, before it can move on to economic empowerment.

It’s up to the African Union to tell their members that the autocracies are unacceptable. The african union must make it clear to leaders that they have to respect their citizens.

It’s a very unhealthy environment where three quarters of the continent’s leaders are dictators and where the democratic leaders are unable to say this is unacceptable. That is what destroys the solidarity that should be there between nations.,

Right now African countries are just too different with democracy practices in a few countries where their neighbouring countries don’t uphold democratic values.

Africans need to stop hiding behind rhetorics and excuses. They won’t solve the issues.

On the issue of xenophobia, Tinyiko is quite clear. he says there is no xenophobia in Africa. There are tensions that have built up due to the high number of illegal immigrants in the country. Crime has risen, the drug trade that never existed  is now everywhere, He blames the South African government for failing to control illegal immigration, which is the cause of the many faceless people in the country. Nobody knows who these people are, and if they commit a crime they can’t be traced.

He doesn’t know the exact number of illegal immigrants but believes they run in the millions.

Listen to Tinyiko Chauke here.

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