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.