Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled Hillary voters…


Ellis Island 1892 or OR Tambo 2016?


Dear South Africans,

In 2015 the mainstream liberal media dismissed the idea that Donald Trump would run for president. Then, when he did, it insisted he would withdraw from the race in early 2016. Soon afterwards it guaranteed it was impossible for him to gain the Republican Party‘s presidential nomination.

Given that it has just told us that Trump’s showing in the first debate was a disaster and that his late-night Twitter rants have scuppered his chances, we now have to assume that he will sweep to victory on November 8.

This will, of course, trigger a humanitarian crisis. Vast waves of American liberals will grab their family photo albums, their PhD theses on Season 7 of Friends as a liminal simulacrum of Peak Oil, and race for the nearest border.

Most will go to Canada for emotional and psychological reasons. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a liberal, pro-LGBTI feminist who is also selling $15-billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, where women need a man’s permission to go anywhere and where being gay is punishable by death. This grand hypocrisy will remind Americans of many of their own politicians, and the familiarity will comfort them.

Many, however, will flee to other parts. Inevitably, some will come to South Africa. We urge you to welcome them into your homes, showing the hospitality we South Africans have always shown to displaced and desperate foreigners who — wait, actually, on second thoughts, never mind.

If you do decide to foster some Americans, please bear the following in mind.

Firstly, when they step off the airliner they will be frightened by the strangeness of their surroundings. We recommend that you slowly wave a copy of The Audacity of Hope and wear a rubber Tina Fey mask. When you speak, try a Jon Stewart monologue to break the ice.

They will also not have seen cars as small as yours. (Yes, some of you drive SUVs, but given how you drive them we’re pretty sure you’re not the fostering kind, so we’re talking to the rest.) When they see you in your Golf or Picanto or Yaris they will assume that you are an Oompa Loompa coming to take them to a chocolate factory. Reassure them that you are not an Oompa Loompa, perhaps by showing them your ID.

Whatever you do, don’t take them to a Spur

Try to lift their spirits with hearty meals,  but remember that very few Americans have ever eaten real food. When you offer them bread, beer or chocolate (rather than their usual food-like substances) expect surprise and anger. (Whatever you do, don’t take them to a Spur. They know their own history, and, not having grown up in South Africa, they will find it macabre and upsetting that you have taken them to a genocide-themed restaurant.)

Home life will pose some challenges but most can be overcome with patience and understanding. Like the beavers and woodpeckers of their homeland, Americans live in wooden houses, so try not to be angry if you come home one day and find that they have constructed a new wing out of plywood and staples. Thank them, and gently explain their mistake to them.

Any acrimony that may arise will be short-lived due to the fact that Americans are unfailingly friendly and optimistic. This may be upsetting to most South Africans, but do not let your foster Americans drag you down with their sunny natures and never-say-die pragmatism. Remember who you are: a gloomy South African, convinced that it’s all going to hell, but determined to do almost nothing to change your situation. Remember the true meaning of ubuntu: I am here because you’re still here, and as long as you’re still here, I’m probably staying.

A word of warning: do not become too attached to your foster Americans. Trump’s presidency is likely to last no more than 18 months (analysts suggest he may become increasingly irritated by “the yuge piles of paper with words on ’em” and simply wander off one day). And when he goes, so will your Americans.

Above all, try not to be smug. It may be tempting to make superior comments about a country in which an aggressive bigot like Trump can become president, but remember that you live in the country of Jacob Zuma and Hlaudi Motsoeneng, so you might want to pipe down a little.

More importantly, try to remember that if sudden, shocking change can happen in the richest country in the world, with almost universal employment and a vast, settled political elite, then it can happen anywhere, out of the blue.

So be nice to your Americans. Because you never know when you’ll need to grab the family photo album and the PhD, and go and look up faraway friends.


First published in The Times and at Rand Daily Mail



  1. in the same way Americans thought Trump could never get in, we never thought Zuma would.
    I remember driving with my kids, when Zuma was rumoured to be the next president, and saying ‘don’t be ridiculous, a rapist, a misogynist, a thief, blah blah, it is not possible.’
    Yip. Anything could happen.


  2. Well done, Tom, as usual. Witty, acrid satire that hits close to home (America that is). My family and I will be staying, no matter what happens. I was a young adult through the Cold War era. Maybe I will look in the attic for those blueprints for “How To Build A Fallout Shelter.”
    Never got around to it, and fortunately Kennedy made the Russians impotent for decades. Now the ego-driven insanity for power that threatens world annihilation will be seated in the White House instead of the Kremlin.


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