For our interview series “We made it!”, we share our clients’ success stories in South Africa. This month we would like to introduce you to Niels Posthumus, a journalist from Netherlands who relocated to South Africa 5 years ago. Niels covers news and background stories in Southern Africa for various Dutch media and newspapers and gives us some insight of his life and work in South Africa.
IBN: What made you decide to relocate and why did you choose South Africa?
Niels: I was asked by my Dutch newspaper Trouw to become their correspondent for Southern Africa in 2012. I had lived in South Africa for one year in 2008, and thought it would be fun and interesting to go back there and live in Johannesburg for a while.
IBN: How long have you already lived in South Africa?
Niels: One year in 2008, and now again since the end of 2012, so six years in total.
IBN: What do you do in South Africa?
Niels: I am a journalist, a foreign correspondent. I cover news and background stories in southern Africa for various Dutch media, like the newspapers Trouw and Het Financieele Dagblad, and BNR Newsradio.
IBN: What would you say are the advantages/disadvantages living in South Africa?
Niels: The costs of living in South Africa are fairly low, which is obviously pleasant. And work wise it is an extremely interesting country for a journalist. I also really like the people and the climate. I live in Johannesburg. The biggest disadvantage is the enormity of the city and the lack of public transport. I have a car, so it’s not that I don’t get around, but I do spend way more time in my car than I’d like.
IBN: What was your experience in relocating to South Africa?
Niels: For me it was relatively easy, since I had lived in South Africa already in 2008. Therefore, I already knew my way around in Johannesburg a bit, and I already had some friends when I arrived in 2012.
IBN: How is your life in South Africa different from your home country and what do you like most about South Africa?
Niels: In the end, it’s actually not that different, I must admit. Except that it’s a different country, with a different culture, but in the end my life and the things I do haven’t drastically changed from the way it was back in the Netherlands, where I’m from. The thing I like the most about South Africa is probably that everything that I do is now outside, most often in the sun. Sports are barely ever cancelled due to rain, having a glass of wine is better in the sun than some dark bar, et cetera.
IBN: What do you dislike about South Africa?
Niels: I have a love-hate relationship with the country. Because all things that I hate, the racism, the economic inequality, the violence, the corruption, et cetera, are in a way also very interesting for me as a journalist. I do love the friends I met here though, as said I do like the people in general, I live in an apartment that I love, in a vibrant neighborhood close to town. Then again, South Africa is an extremely complex country, with a very complex, painful and unjust history. That is something to dislike obviously, but at the same time as a journalist it fascinates me as well.
IBN: What do you miss most from home?
Niels: I miss my friends and family sometimes of course. But besides that, I don’t think I really miss that much. Of the five years before I moved to South Africa I spend half abroad as well, so I am quite used to being away from the Netherlands. I always really love it to visit the Netherlands though. And when I cycle or walk through Amsterdam, I do miss the beauty of that city for sure, I realize that every time I’m there – It’s quite a contrast with Joburg. And I miss the cycling itself actually, now I think of it.
IBN: What advice would you give people thinking about moving and/or setting up a business in South Africa?
Niels: Take some time to decide where you are going to live, especially in Johannesburg. The city is massive and you don’t want to live at the opposite side of town from your friends or your work – that would be extremely impractical. Take some time to get to know the city. Johannesburg has a bad reputation and is aesthetically also not exactly the most beautiful city in the world, but in the end it’s definitely not as bad as people say or often think. The city certainly has its charm, once you have figured out where to live and where to go.
IBN: What are your plans for the future?
Niels: I’m not sure yet. I will stay in South Africa for a little while, a couple of years probably, as long as my visa allows me and work is going well. After that I would like to become correspondent in a different part of the world: a different country on another continent.
IBN: How was the IBN Team able to assist you in reaching your goals?
Niels: After the changes in immigration rules and types of visa, in 2015 I was a bit confused about what kind of visa I could qualify for as a foreign journalist – my old visa type didn’t exist anymore. IBN helped me sorting this problem out, and assisted me with applying for the visa. And I got it, so the help of IBN was indeed very useful.
Niels Website: www.nielsposthumus.com
IBN: Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We wish you all the best in all your future endeavors!!!
by Hans Kroll