There was once a collective dream of something called “The Rainbow Nation”, where people of all races would work together to heal the scars of history and prosper together. Imagine living your whole life believing in this dream, only to be awoken by the nightmare that is contemporary South Africa; a place where life is cheap, and people are led by liars and thieves.

The past 12 years of our young democracy have been nothing short of a tragedy, the pain of which is compounded by the potential we’ve seen waste away before our eyes. So, like millions of my compatriots, I tore myself away from the African soil like flesh from bone. 

After some time in The Netherlands, I longed to see how deep my Portuguese roots ran and my wife and I made the move to beautiful Lisbon. Here, we’ve found our place in the sun, surrounded by natural beauty, warm people, great food and, above all, peace and safety.

My name is Quentin and, in the spirit of Ubuntu, I want to share what I’ve found with my friends on the Southern tip of Africa.

I left in 2016, around the time when the Government started talking about taking land without compensation. The Government has been extremely misleading and mismanaging everything until this point. That is why the conversation of leaving started to happen. 

I realized that was going to be the end of the country as we knew it. To give you an idea, this is not just in South Africa; in Zimbabwe, the Government did something similar to the farmers a few decades ago, and it collapsed the country entirely. I think for South Africans, especially for young people, the future now looks unsteady and, from what I can see, Portugal has many more opportunities for people than South Africa currently has. 

For farmers, especially, it’s a scary time, and that is a community that I have great respect for – to pull life out of the ground and feed a country that doesn’t appreciate you, that’s something unique. I mean, it’s more dangerous to be a farmer in South Africa than it is to be a policeman because they’re isolated, they’re far from cities, and there’s not adequate law enforcement there, so it’s perilous, there’s an endless crime threat. Plus, the Government’s plan to take land from the people makes it difficult to make a living and to have a sense of safety. 

I think that’s an excellent pathway for people who are looking for opportunities to come to Portugal because Portugal actually needs farmers. The agriculture here is on a smaller scale than in South Africa but you can do amazing things with a small piece of land as I saw in the vineyards around Setúbal.

I am hoping people can see all their options for various circumstances. The Golden Visa is a fantastic option for people that are looking to invest, especially in property. That gives you a permanent residency in Portugal, and you can then apply for citizenship after five years. It’s a brilliant process, but there are other options, like a D7 Visa for Passive Income or, if you want to retire, you can also get retirement benefits and tax benefits with the NHR (Non-Habitual Resident Program). 

I think also, there is something about the Portuguese people; they’re welcoming and supportive. Many times, when you go to a different country people acknowledge you, but they don’t quite invite you into their personal culture. Portuguese people are welcoming to other people because Portugal understands that they always relied on being connected, I mean, it was the first global empire. Portugal’s strength is its openness with Europe and to people that want to come here and work. Everyone’s lives improve. That’s something you don’t find in a lot of places, that warm welcome that you get in Portugal. The invitation to “come be one of us!”.

When I brought my wife to Lisbon, I was moved by how much she cherished the city. It was her favorite place of all we visited, which is the most fantastic thing that I could experience, seeing the one I love to fall in love with my homeland. 

We are outdoor people, so nature, the sun, the beach, and my love for the ocean affected our choice. Most importantly we love the food in Portugal, here you can go to any “tasca” (cheap little traditional restaurants) and find something delicious and affordable. Food plays a significant role in our lives, with our Italian and Portuguese backgrounds, we have always cherished eating together with our families on Sundays, and everything revolved around the tradition of food and family.

I lived in South Africa for thirty years. Portugal has the life I wanted when I was living there – the weather, the excellent food, and the friendliness of the people. You get a feeling of being at home plus safety, excellent quality of life, and a promising future for your children. Yes, this is the dream, I think there’s a bright future here for those who are brave and willing to change.