Do I belong here? Conditions and micro-diffussions in the South African milieu which proliferate the emigration of potential leaders.
Abstract: A plethora of interdisciplinary research has highlighted the increase of global mobility and diasporic communities. While talent emigration has shown to have a multiplicity of benefits, particularly as gaining diversified sets of skills is essential in the face of globalization. However, widely researched concepts such as the ‘brain drain’ have conveyed the dark side of talent emigration and the ramification of countries’ desiccation for scarce skills. With a history fraught with tensions and immense loss of talent, South Africa is a country in continuous transformation, but is on the cusp of another significant ‘brain drain’. Hence, this study aimed to explore the micro-diffusions and conditions in the South African context which proliferate the emigration of talented potential leaders. The research design was qualitative, with specific use of the actors approach as methodology to gain insight into perspectives of South Africans living, working and studying in Sweden. Twenty-one participants from five cities were involved in the focus group dialogues, namely; Gothenburg, Kalmar, Lund, Linköping and Stockholm. As a participant-observer, I too was involved in the sense-making of how talent delineated their identities and relation to South Africa. Certain aspects of the findings were expected regarding the conditions which serve as push factors for emigration, such as participants’ frustrations and despondency with increasing rates of crime, unemployment and corruption. However, the most accentuated and poignant micro-diffusion which perpetuates talent’s emigration derives from conflicts of identity and belongingness, deep-seated inherited guilt and helplessness. Whilst there is a desire to ameliorate the social ills which plague the country, there also seems to be a palpable need for escapism away from the persistent historical complexities of South Africa.
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