Channel NewsAsia

Singapore expats in South Africa remember their roots

Singaporeans living in South Africa who miss home are finding their own ways to remember their roots.

JOHANNESBURG: As fellow Singaporeans flood Marina Bay for the 49th annual celebration of their country's independence - family and friends around the world try to unite around a distant but never forgotten spirit of Singapore.

In Africa lives an expat Singaporean forging a new home continents away. "I do miss my family,” said Simon Lee, manager of Little Tuscany Boutique Hotel. I do miss my friends but I have made roots here. I would still think that Singapore is home and I do connect with my roots because for us Asians, family is still core."

Simon arrived in South Africa after his friends convinced him to go on an adventure. That adventure has now lasted more than a decade and although Simon regularly returns to Singapore, Africa is now home.

But not all expats feel the same way. Alisha Lin, client relationship manager at Bank of China Africa, moved to South Africa last year with her English partner Tony. Aside from sometimes missing speaking 'Singlish', National Day for her is not a calendar event. She said: "I don't think I practice any culture or traditional values on a day-to-day basis but if I have children, then I will make sure you know to tell them what my parents and what my grandparents taught me."

But there is one Singaporean who is working hard to bridge both worlds. Perdita Druce is president of the South African Singapore Club. After 20 years of living in South Africa, she arranges regular gatherings and potlucks where expats can get together and share a little nostalgia and comfort in a home away from home. She said: "We definitely feel a little bit homesick thinking it would be nice to be back home but that is the reason why we got our community here, that we can get together and then we can just feel homesick together."

While Singapore's National Day will only be celebrated this year in September on African soil, for the nearly one hundred expats who live here, it is a birthday that is only a memory or smile away. As Singaporeans come together for a colourful celebration of the nation, a small community in South Africa remains largely ignited in their own secret 'city of the lion'.