Losing my citizenship

I am a citizen of several countries – by birth, by foreign birth, and by naturalisation. I am half German, half Irish, have lived in Sweden for decades, and was born in South Africa. I have also lived and worked in Ireland, the US and the UK.

Whenever people ask what nationality I am I always say I am South African. Unlike second or third generation Americans of Irish/Scottish/Italian/Scandinavian heritage, I don’t really identify with the nationalities of my ancestors. I have always felt only South African.

For me, I am South African because I was born and brought up there. I know the songs, the history, the television shows from my youth, the culture, the slang, the food, the ‘shorthand’ that we all have when we are with people like us. I know more about Sweden’s laws and political system than most Swedes, thanks to my job. I speak the language, know the food and the slang and the music. But I will never be Swedish. Sweden is not where I was formed.

I recently lost my South African citizenship. I knew it was probably going to happen as I have formally emigrated and taken Swedish citizenship. But when I received the letter I did feel sad, because – no matter how long I live in other countries – I will always feel South African.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

7 thoughts

  1. I didn’t realize that multiple citizenship wasn’t a permanent thing. I didn’t realize that the country of your birth could decide that you were no longer a citizen there. That would be a heartbreaking loss. I hope that you are able to grieve your loss. Please know that I think you are AMAZING!

  2. I am finding myself in a similar situation. I have two nationalities (French and Spanish) and I could have had the English citizenship as well as the German one. I find that two nationalities is hard enough as it is and I no longer live in England and haven’t for many years. I met many people who think that dual (or multiple) nationalities and citizenships are unfair and they think that this should be abolished. In my heart, I feel just as French as I feel Spanish. However, the French bureaucracy is making it always so difficult for me to remain French, so I’m slowly letting it go. It really is bittersweet!… How have you coped with the administrative side of things?

    1. I feel exactly the same as you. I have an emotional connection to the land of my birth that I do not have to Ireland, for example. So losing my South African citizenship was hard, even though I totally understand the decision the SA government made. I have lived in Sweden for 22 years and will continue to do so, and so Swedish citizenship is most practical for me. South African bureaucracy is, like many African countries, very difficult so the administrative process was slow and frustrating. Much like the French I have heard. I will be glad not to have that anymore.

      1. I completely understand your situation. You live in Sweden so it’s easier from an administrative point of view. I now live in Germany and not too far from where I live (about 1 hour away), I can find the Spanish consulate and sort everything out easily. I live near Hamburg but if I want to have my French papers renewed, I have to travel all the way to Berlin (3 hours by train). I could theoretically get the German citizenship, which would make things a lot easier (although the German administration is probably just as tough as the French and the South African one…), but I don’t feel it in my heart at all. German is not something I am. It’s tricky really to find some balance between emotion and administration…

  3. I’m very sorry it had to be that way, Janet! Thank you for sharing so much about your life experiences. You are certainly more of a child of the world than I am, but I am sorry that has its drawbacks too. Be well.

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