Port Elizabeth, South Africa - May 16, 2017: The South African flag is shown at the lighthouse and Donkin memorial in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Picture: 123RF/VANESSA BENTLEY
Port Elizabeth, South Africa - May 16, 2017: The South African flag is shown at the lighthouse and Donkin memorial in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Picture: 123RF/VANESSA BENTLEY

As a fellow member of the non-gloom brigade, I want to add to Steven Friedman’s insightful column (Whinge, Whinge, Whinge ... Why the Middle Class Needs to Trim Expectations, September 18).

I emigrated to this country in 1985 as a recently graduated mechanical engineer to join Anglo American on one of its gold mines in Welkom. Having grown up in Northern Ireland and living through “the Troubles” it could be said that I went from the frying pan into the fire.

Well almost 35 years later, apart from a three-year stint back in Ireland with Anglo, I am happily still in SA. I am often asked why did you come back, and why are you still here? 

This is not a difficult question to answer. Yes, I do have the safety net of an Irish passport. My family and many friends are there should I want to run, and fortunately I am financially able to do so. I love it there when I am there, but I love it here more. Much more.

I have knowledge and real experience of living a middle-class life overseas, and along with extensive global travels to more than 60 other countries it is enough for me to know I want to be in SA.

Why? As Friedman said, “middle-class people here live far better than their peers in many other countries”. I am well aware that the majority of South Africans are not as fortunate, but the fact is as a middle-class person I can still live a great life in SA.

Here I am protected by a world-class constitution, work with world-class people, send my children to world-class schools, travel on world-class roads, get world-class medical treatment, bank with world-class banks, stay in world-class accommodation, drink world-class wines and eat in some of the best restaurants in the world at a fraction of the world-class price.

Yes, many of these are deteriorating, but in my experience they are still on a par or better than most of what middle-class people here tend to define as “the rest of the world”, more accurately the West — the US, Europe or Australia.

Violence and safety are issues, but that hasn’t deterred me from being a loyal champion for this amazing country, which has given me and so many other hard-working immigrants a “world-class” life. Stay and fix, don’t run and complain.

PS: Did I mention the weather? And the bush? And the beaches?

Shane Fitzpatrick, Morningside