Sunday, June 20, 2010

Johannesburg

Before my arrival, I had heard about South Africa's world-class infrastructure. Now, here in Johannesburg I have seen for myself, the modern, highly efficient systems in place.  Everything Public works!  The malls are mind-boggling in magnitude (Monte Casino and Sandton City, to name just two of the hundreds) boasting four or five concourses, resplendent with shops dealing in everything under the sun, from high-end to designer to modern basics, you name it!  And the people that traverse the malls halls emerge from every corner of the world;  milling about in the enclosed spaces, amusing, indulging, scrutinizing, profiling.

Ah, Johannesburg is rich in diversity.

Cream colored or rosé, cement walls stretch across homes, opulent and modest alike.  Ten foot walls topped with barbed wire looping in endless menacing revolutions; alternatively, slender, pointed pieces of metal driven into the walls, thorny ends up, jutting with purpose towards the sky, establishing the unmistakable penalty for those who commit the crime of trespass.

In my travels, this has been the norm. Except in Alexandra, where everyone exists in this thickly populated area, in poor, dirty, deteriorated houses.  Young men, women and children jostle for dominance over the only open spaces - narrow tarmacked roads encumbered with humps, slowing taxis that roam in and out, carrying Alexandrans and visitors like me - loafing around, cigarettes hanging off chapped lips, playing street football, and hopscotch.  Ordinary folk accustomed to wrenching their lot in life, submitting to the status quo, or determined to transcend their subordinated lives, fashion a life of hard work and perseverance.

Mama Shujaa.

2 comments:

  1. It's nice to read about the urban landscape...not much of that is shown here, just the sport! This is beautifully written. I sense a short story set here, maybe?

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  2. Maxine, yes, a front-line report is overdue on a lot of our communities, the ones that are separated from all other communities by a network TV producer, politicized thru and thru.

    Travelling has a way of summing up our personal range of experiences, revealing limitations and expectations, a true education.

    Thanks.

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