Filomina Macuacua is a 22-year-old young woman originally from Maputo and currently based in Lawley (a township south of Johannesburg). She moved to South Africa with her family (her parents and two siblings) from Mozambique when she was 12 years old.
Filomina enrolled in public schools for both her primary and secondary education where she was exposed to a different environment, culture and language. Filomina had to repeat a grade twice in the first two years of schooling and she was forced to adapt quickly to fit in as she was mocked and made fun of by other kids in school.
Speaking on her experience in Maputo: “The school conditions in Maputo were very poor and classes were very crowded especially in public schools. Jobs were scarce so my family and I had to migrate in search of a better life but it wasn’t that easy as leaving the rest of our family was the most difficult thing I had to process.”
“It took time to deal with the separation and adapt as the language was the most difficult thing to learn. English, isiZulu, Sesotho and Tsonga are some of the home languages in South Africa. I only knew Portuguese and that was the main reasons why I failed. I couldn’t understand the teachers but learned the hard way, which took a couple of years.”
“I now speak isiZulu fluently as it was the most used language in my community. Now we hardly speak our language in my family, that’s how hard relocating hit us”, said Filomina.
She completed her matric on a study permit and still can’t further her studies as her father is the only one working and won’t be able to pay for school fees. Most bursaries like National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) only funds South African citizens.
“I do wish to further my studies but because of a lack of funding I won’t be able to. I still need to apply for a permanent residency permit and get a South African ID which will take 5 years and only after the whole process I’ll be able to get funding”.
Currently Filomina spends her time at home as she’s unable to further her studies. Her last job was at a Debonaire’s take-away outlet, but she left after continuously being mistreated and being blamed and forced to pay for large till discrepancies, without any investigation.
According to Filomina, migrating is a very hard process – adapting and trying to fit in in a foreign country is a big challenge. With xenophobic attacks rising, it’s a painful process as most people don’t want to unite and understand why Africans migrate.
“Communities and individuals don’t realise [that] we share the same struggles and we are dividing ourselves by fighting against each other meanwhile we can educate, unite and fight against our oppressors. It’s hard to see my people being ill-treated, violently attacked and insulted as we are all in search of a better life and trying means to sustain our family but now we [are] fighting against each other. I hope we realise this and unite as Africans against our struggles”, Filomina said.
This article was submitted on 31 May 2022. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.