who goes where

1 Every time I come back to Britain I realise exactly why I left.

2 Within 24 hours of landing in Luanda, Lara, I wanted to leave.

1 I have lovely friends, and there are lots of things I like about London in particular, but within seconds of touching down I am cringing.

2 Even among my family and friends, I felt they’d been lying to me. They said it was better, that things were improving, but as soon as I arrived I could see it wasn’t true.

1 So I’ll carry on living here in Luanda. I don’t know for how much longer, but I prefer it here.

2 I’m starting to sort my life out here in London. I’ve got work, I’m buying a small flat, and my children have an education. I want to visit Luanda – Angola is my home – but I have to look after my family. It’s my life. I need to protect my own life, don’t I.

3 Look, I came back to Luanda because I couldn’t take the UK any more. I was lonely. I don’t belong there. But it’s so difficult back here. I’ve been ill already. I can’t find work. People said it was getting better, but it’s not. They were lying. I don’t know how I’m going to get out now. They make it very difficult to leave the country once they know you’ve lived abroad. I’m stuck.

4 I can’t live in London any more. It’s my home, I know, but I just don’t like the way of the English. So unfriendly. It’s much better in Luanda. People here are more open, there are better parties, the weather is wonderful, we’ve got the beach. Why would I want to go back to England? That said, I’ve bought a place there just to be sure. At least then I’ve got a base. It’s important to have your own base. But I’m not going to live there. You must be joking! I don’t even know what I’d do. I can earn much more money here. As long as you can get out every few months, it’s much better in Luanda.

3 I’m stuck. I found it so hard in England. I couldn’t find work. I wasn’t being accepted. I tried. But the English, they made it so hard. There’s an attitude there if you’re African: don’t come here to live off us. But I’ve got friends who made it. They worked hard, kept their heads down, and they’re making it. They’ve got citizenship now. I didn’t get it. So now I’m stuck. I came back to Luanda thinking it would be better, thinking I would get work, thinking I would be back with my friends. But it’s changed. They aren’t my friends in the way they were. They said it was better. They said they’d get me work, that they’d help me. But I’ve been back months now, and I have no work. They all disappeared when I got home, vanished, and the promises vanished too. And I’ve been ill.

2 I’d prefer to live in my own country, of course I would. But I’ve got children now. I have to protect them. There’s nothing there for me. It’s terrible there. No one chooses to leave their homeland unless they have to. I had to. I couldn’t survive there. Now I have a home. I have my own home. I own it. I have a job. I can fly to America and visit friends there and it will cost me a few hundred dollars, the same it costs to fly from Luanda to Luena. I’d rather live at home. But this is my life, and we only have one life don’t we. Don’t we. Are you listening?

3 So are you going to come back? Or have you abandoned us again? Run back home to London? Come back. Do your work here. It’s important. London isn’t going to run away you know. You can always go back there. But come here now. It’s important. Bring your family. Things are better here. It’s ok. Bring your children. It’s easy for you foreigners. Please come back.

5 You were never really integrated were you? That’s the problem. You’ve got to integrate yourself, you know. Don’t be so English. You’ve got to be more like them. Forget about work and worries and just have fun. That’s what Angolans prefer.

3 They wouldn’t accept me. I tried. But they wouldn’t accept me. But now I’m home, I’m not sure I feel the same any more.

1 Every time I come back to Britain I realise exactly why I left. Within seconds of touching down I am cringing.