How to settle in a new place

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Sometimes I wonder about the motivation of folks who leave their ancestral homes to settle in other lands. What gives them the itch to go and live somewhere different? In my own life, my parents left their land of origin in search of knowledge. I was born in London whilst they were involved in the process of absorbing information. Once they had completed their learning tasks, they took me and my siblings with them, to live in Nigeria. I returned to London, because it was the first place I ever knew and I preferred to live here.

Those who emigrate from Europe to Australia, New Zealand or even South Africa would have gone through another sort of thought process. Are they from families that have a history of migrating and relocating, or even just exploring?  Curiosity about other places and cultures could have something to do with it. Others want to buy and sell things, or their families have always done that through generations. This is all well and good, especially when the settlers are respectful of what they find in the new locations when they arrive.

In historical terms, it is apparent that not every story about settlers is the same, depending on the dynamics between the host communities and the migrants. I composed music and performed with a silent movie called De Voortrekkers (1916) that tries its utmost to tell a sympathetic tale about the experience of settlers in parts of South Africa, but the telling of some events in the film and subsequently, the information most people know about the way things turned out in the nation’s political system tell another story.

The urge to be adventurous and discover new lands, thus creating new homes, is an admirable human trait. The urge to intervene in the lives of indigenous communities and to sometimes disrupt cultural practices is not as easy to regard as laudable.

Of course there are many things that settlers have taken to indigenous communities that have improved living conditions for all. There is no way of turning back the clocks, so we all need to get on with making the most of living cheek by jowl with each other.

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