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South African Group Encouraging South African Expats to Return

The South African organization, the Homecoming Revolution, hosts a job fair to lure London-based ex-patriots back to South Africa

Tens of thousands of South Africans have made Britain their home over the past two decades, attracted by higher wages and more job opportunities than back home. But now a South African organization, the Homecoming Revolution, dedicated to reversing that trend, says many are being persuaded to return, partly because of Britain's economic woes. The non-profit group recently held an event in London to give ex-pats information on moving, jobs, housing and education in South Africa.

Many South Africans in Britain work as teachers, nurses, computer technicians and in other professions.

At a recent event, South African moving companies, realtors, large businesses and universities spoke to about a thousand exiles. Their aim: to persuade their countrymen and women to return home.

The companies were brought to the event by a South African group called Homecoming Revolution.

Martine Scheffer, the group's managing director, says a significant number of South Africans are taking steps to return home.

"The economic recession where people have lost jobs and felt under threat - don't have support systems around them - it's led people to examine what they're doing and why they're doing it and why they're living elsewhere," said Scheffer.

Some white South Africans say they left the country after apartheid ended, believing they would be at a disadvantage in the job market. Crime and social problems are also cited as reasons they sought work abroad.

Professor Nick Binedell from the University of Pretoria says, now, as some countries suffer in the global downturn, South Africa has become an attractive place to work.

"There are many opportunities in South Africa. We were not affected the way the UK and US [were] affected by the downturn - the great recession. I think South Africa is still full of opportunity for people with drive and energy," explained Professor Binedell.

Some visitors to the event have already decided to leave London.

South Africa's soccer star Aaron Mokoena lent his support to the event. South Africa will host soccer's World Cup later this year.

The Homecoming Revolution says it hopes the tournament will highlight opportunities in South Africa.