The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Amy has three nationalities

Amy has three nationalities. One by birth, one by descent and one by choice (mine!). Amy was born in the United Kingdom and because I have a British passport by birth, she automatically gets awarded British Citizenship. Its a commonly held misbelief that if you are born in a country, you automatically become a citizen of that country. New rules in the UK (don’t question me on the details because I don’t know since when) state that a child born in the UK will receive the same rights as the mother, so if the mother is on a visa, the child will fall into the same immigration status. All this aside, Amy was born to a Welsh mother, in England and soon after she was born we received her British passport.

At the same time as applying for her British passport, Ron went off to Australia House and registered her birth there. She was awarded citizenship by descent through her father and shortly thereafter we received her Australian passport. I didn’t even bother to attempt sorting out her South African status until we went back at Christmas, reasoning it was better to try in the small town home affairs department down the South Coast. I came away from that experience with absolutely no confidence that I had been able to register her birth. In fact it wouldn’t have suprised me if I had instead registered her as an endangered species or a type of alien vegetation rather than a baby born to a mother who holds dual South African and British citizenship!

It was only once we had moved to Australia that I was able to get to the bottom of the problem about getting her birth registered in South Africa. I contacted the South African Embassy in Canberra for advice about how to track down my application back in good old SA and an amazingly helpful person emailed me back immediately and said they were on the case. This was so totally unexpected that I completely forgot about the whole issue until shortly before her first birthday when I received an email back from said helpful person confirming that I had indeed registered her birth but there was a slight complication because as it turned out I shouldn’t really be a South African citizen afterall!
This was understandably a great shock but not altogether unexpected, I was actually naturalised by Nelson Mandela himself shortly before my 16th birthday when he was released from prison. Ok, so he probably got someone else to do it, but it did happen as a result of an amnesty of sorts and so when we applied for my first grown up identity book (an I.D book in South Africa is your book of life and you must have an I.D number to do anything!) and it turned out I had been naturalised and so my I.D book stated CITIZEN. I had to explain this to my helpful person in Canberra who in turn relayed this information to her contacts back in South Africa to verify that yes indeed I am certainly a proper South African and then the news came back that Amy was now registered and I would be able to apply for her passport in the usual fashion.

I have to admit that I have been rather lax about actually applying for the document and to be honest thats something I have been thinking about lately, must be all the patriotism going round at the moment what with the Rugby World Cup! Ron and I have always said that we would like Amy to be able to choose for herself which country will claim her allegience when she is old enough to make the decision. South Africa will always be a special place because we will take fantastic holidays there where she will be spoiled rotten by her Gogga and Grandpa Packet. Its a place where she will learn about wildlife of a different sort and hopefully grow to love the Bushveld as much as I do and Ron does now.
Australia will be her home, she will speak with an aussie accent (as much as it pains me!) and she will learn the national anthem at school whilst the South African one will be something I try and teach her but it won’t have the same feeling. Ron and I are both a bit puzzled about what part in her life her birth heritage will play. A British passport is something to treasure as it does open a lot of doors in life but neither Ron nor I are English so we can’t really instill a feeling for the country in her despite the fact that she was born there.

In the meantime I have to consider what I will do in the coming years. I have recently been awarded my permanent residence which is valid indefinitely but I will be eligible to apply for citizenship within two years. Before moving here I was adamant that I would never be an Australian but now that I am here I can’t turn a blind eye to the country that I will live in, pay tax in and educate my daughter in. If accepting citizenship is getting a say in how the country works, then it can’t be a bad thing. Just don’t ever expect me to support Australia over South Africa in any sporting event!

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