Around 800 attendees converged on London’s Olympia Conference Centre at the weekend for Homecoming Revolution’s Speed Meet Africa, demonstrating that the pull of home still resonates strongly among many expats.
Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Time’s 100 most influential of 2014, delivered the inspirational keynote address, urging Africans in the diaspora to return home.
She opened with the words, “ukuhamba kuzala induna”, a Zulu Proverb meaning travelling breeds leaders.
“If you travel and come back to your village you bring new insights, ideas and you start seeing things differently.”
“For us in South Africa, the advantage of having someone who has left and come back is that they understand the peculiarities and complexities of the local environment and they now bring in an external perspective. The combination of those two is magic,” she continued.
Madonsela was also interviewed on stage by former BBC Africa Bureau Editor Peter Burdin in a frank Q& A session.
DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane addressed the crowd and was interviewed by Sky Social Affairs Editor Afua Hirsch, who is an African expat, on stage. “Now more than ever our country needs individuals with skills and expertise to drive economic growth and serve as a catalyst for job creation.”
Homecoming Revolution CEO Angel Jones said as an African, she feels like she lives on a constant rollercoaster.
“Sometimes I feel absolutely terrified, sometimes I feel so exhilarated. I often have those feelings within the same hour. But I feel more alive than ever living in South Africa. Yes we have the hard parts but the opportunity to feel and have a big life is for me the most important. South Africa and Africa as a whole continue to surprise us as we continue to do and achieve incredible things.”
Jones said Africa’s brain drain has reversed and thousands of skilled expats return each year.
“For every 2 people returning to South Africa 1 is leaving. This is often for extended working stints vs full-on immigration. Over 350,000 South Africans have returned home over the past 5 years and that number continues to rise. The ripple effect of this is remarkable, with every 1 skilled person returning creating 9 new jobs in the informal and formal sectors.”
Offering a taste of home, attendees encountered exciting career opportunities in a speed-networking format with 24 pan-African employers who flew in especially for the event.
Employers included KPMG, Deloitte, The Foschini Group, Accenture, Mace Group, Partners in Performance, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, Ipreo, GSK, Etisalat, Teach for All, Africa Health Placements, Dimension Data, Mediclinic, Prodigy Finance, LelapaFund, africapractice, Safaricom, Jacobs Matasis, LelapaFund, CSIR and Alexander Forbes.
Pam Golding Properties hosted fun, interactive property workshops and showcased incredible properties from their pan-African portfolio, the South African High Commission in the UK provided immigration advice, schools in the ISASA group provided information on South African schools, Brand South Africa encouraged members of the South African diaspora to join its Global South Africans initiative, relocation providers White & Co and Doree Bonner advised attendees on the logistics around moving back and beautiful homegrown merchandise was on sale.
One lucky attendee won an all-inclusive 4 night luxury trip for 2 at &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in the majestic Masai Mara.
Homecoming Revolution’s next Speed Meet Events are taking place in Johannesburg on 5 August, Cape Town on 12 August and New York on 24 September.
Visit www.homecomingrevolution.com for more information and updates.
The Homecoming Revolution team was dressed by online African fashion label KISUA.
A special thanks to Appletiser, African Extracts and Maneki.