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The dating game

FINDING LOVE ABROAD: Olerato Matshameko


It may be said in jest, but the sad truth is that the pressure and expectation to return from studies in Europe or America with a lover, preferably a white one can come at you from every angle.

I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked if I have found a man, specifically a white man.

Some have even gone to the extent of letting me know that I would have failed at life should I not get myself a white man to marry.

Navigating the dating scene in a foreign country however can be a daunting task, as Olerato Matshameko, a 39-year audiologist who has lived in the UK for the last 16 years can attest.

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“I get asked all the time why I did not marry a white guy,” says Ollie in the middle of fits of laughter. “I think people have perceptions and expectations about that which they have limited experience of including dating outside one’s race,” she explains.

As a starry- eyed 23- year old, Ollie (as she is fondly called) moved to the UK to pursue her studies.

Being am adventurous and open-minded person, she like many young people was excited the freedom that being away from her strict mother offered her.

She got a chance to go on an adventure including hanging out with different people from different backgrounds.

When it came to dating, Ollie had however not set her sights on any particular race or specific type of guy for that matter.

This is despite the encouragement of friends even then to actively pursue a white man.

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“My interest was in being with someone I got along with and actually liked,” she explains.

And then she met her now ex- husband!

“I know there are women who associate dating a white guy with hitting the jackpot, but the truth is that like any other race, not all white people are loaded or even caring. People ought to date whomever they have a connection with, and this should not be determined by the colour of someone’s skin,” Ollie advises.

She goes on to share the painful experience of a lady she had befriended who had met a white man online who later turned out not to be as rich as expected.

“ As soon as she moved to the UK and discovered that the guy was not rich and had in fact secured a loan to make the trip to visit her, she lost interest. They struggled financially and the relationship soured and painfully the guy became abusive towards the woman. There are many such stories, all because people made bad decisions based on unfounded perceptions.”

Narrating her own experience, Ollie says that she and her British Nigerian London native ex-husband met in a small town in South Yorkshire.

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“At the time there weren’t a lot of black people in the town and he was as intrigued to bump into three black girls as we were fascinated by the tall handsome guy. We hung out and he took a liking to me. A year later we traveled to Botswana where he asked my family for my hand in marriage. We had two children.”

However soon after the honeymoon stage was over the relationship showed cracks.

” We were too different people who clashed in what we understood and believed our roles to be in marriage.”

Although Ollie married a British born and raised Nigerian, he had completely different beliefs that included wanting a stay at home wife without career ambitions while Ollie wanted to pursue a career.

“I could not relate to that and those I shared this with thought it was absurd. I was raised by a strong mother who drilled it in us that education and self-actualization are important so, I could not stomach the idea of not working and depending on my husband. His ideals of what an African woman was and ought to be did not resonate with mine. It caused friction and with more cultural and personality clashes the marriage broke down and ended.

One of Ollie’s friends’ pitches in to say that, “Family dynamics have changed and so has culture. People do what feels right to them. Although some people may not relate to the concept of a housewife, some may want to be taken care of and be supported by their spouse. It is worthwhile to interrogate one’s feelings and motives of these preferences as they are not uniform for everyone,” she advises.

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Ollie agrees and has no regrets. “It was good while it lasted but it also exposed what I do not want in a relationship,” she laughs as she realizes that she will at some point need to have a chat with her sons who were born in the UK and are currently raised in a completely different context from how she was brought up.

Responding to a question about her current relationship status, Ollie lights up as she shares her elation to have found love with someone with the same values and a lot more in common with.

The fiercely independent lass from Zwenshambe reveals that she is in a committed relationship with a Motswana man, adding that it has been her best dating decision so far.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Adero Davido

    July 9, 2020 at 1:22 am

    How extraordinary. And misguided. Having been born and raised in the West all my life (currently 42), I have discovered that a white man is the easiest man of all to find and marry. For a black woman whose preference is black, the real challenge is finding a quality black man to share one’s life with. (Happily, I did.) In reality, skin color should never be the primarily determinant in choosing a mate. The author is right. It’s all about the connection between two people, no matter the color.

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