Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo’burg, eGoli or Joeys, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. The city is one of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the world.
So there are the facts; I don’t know about you but the main thing people tend to mention is the unfortunate crime level there – more so than other cities in South Africa. Luckily I only had a connecting flight there so thought I wouldn’t have to fall victim to any of this.
It turns out that you should never underestimate the determination of some people to completely ruin your day! Just before I left England I was completely elated to be given an early Christmas present from my parents that should keep me company while I am away. With over 4000 songs on the new iPod Nano and an apt inscription of “Start of a new chapter. Giving back going forward.” I was more than ready for the adventures ahead of me; at least I knew I wouldn’t get too lonely now.
I arrived at Jo’burg airport at 07:00 and had a connecting flight to make at 10:05 so time enough to make it through passport control and check in again. Next stop Cape Town … just security to get through; the last place I expected corruption (more fool me!). Vaseline bagged, mobile phone out of pocket; ready to pass through the scanners and the guard noticed something in my pocket … “Is it a phone?” he asked. As I said no and put it in the top of my bag he continued to question what it was, how it held music and was, in hindsight, showing rather a lot of unnecessary interest. Needless to say when I got on the plane and went to get my faithful companion out: it was gone. I didn’t allow myself to think about it too much right then as I could feel the panic rising in me and it was as much as I could do to stem the imminent flow of tears; a combination of far too many emotions to explain in one day!
Once I arrived at my final destination, Baphumelele, Khayelitsha, I still couldn’t bring myself to announce to anyone what had happened as I didn’t trust the wobble in my throat which was about to make me break down. Once I got to my room to have a thorough check, however, I proceeded to let the full extent of my emotions run free from my eyeballs. Sobbing commenced and, surprisingly, didn’t stop for quite some time. Now, I am not a crier and it takes quite a bit to shake me up, the fact that I felt so completely wretched was making me feel even worse – and guilty too (after all it was only a material object!). This was the worst vicious circle I could ever have got into.
Deep breath, time to go into the office and see what I can do to help … oops; no good, no not yet, maybe another minute and I can try and clear the redness … this was on and off for the next 36 hours. I can honestly say that, after being shown my accommodation of a 3 bedroom basically furnished flat, I couldn’t remember ever feeling so lonely.
That first night was the longest in the history of my world.
One week on I am completely positive about the assistance I can give to the Baphumelele projects. I have the internet and a computer in my flat in the evenings to keep me company and everything is back on track; once again, I can start ‘Giving back going forward.”