It’s been 14 years since I packed my bags, on a whim, to follow Walter to Johannesburg. I’d grown up in Cape Town and up till that point, I’d lived there all my life, some 29 years. It was all I’d ever known, it was home. But then I met Walter, fell in love and knew he was my future home, wherever he was, that’s where my home would be. And so after a couple of months of him trying to find permanent employment in Cape Town, one day impulsively, I announced that if he couldn’t find employment in Cape Town, then I’d just have to find employment and move to Johannesburg…. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed and all that….
And so, in March of 2001, I resigned from my job and newly unemployed and with hearts and stars in my eyes, I moved to Johannesburg. I’d only ever visited the big smoke a couple of times in my life and always as short lay overs en route somewhere exotic, so I really had no idea what I was in for, in my minds eye, I pictured a barren wasteland peppered with mine dumps & high jackings on ever street corner.
Jozi has been good to me though. I have loved the years here. The people are AMAZING! Friendly, warm, welcoming and I’ve made more friends here than I did in the 29 years living in Cape Town. I call myself a Jozi Girl now, I’m not really much of a Capetonian anymore.
We visit Cape Town regularly, what with my family and childhood friends still there, a couple of times a year but this time, something was different when we visited. For the first time in the 14 years I’ve lived in Jozi, the stark differences between our cities was most apparent. For the first time Jozi’s decay was in stark contrast to Cape Town’s pristine city management. For the first time I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before. Clean streets, working robots, pothole free roads, mowed grass verges, clean public toilets, even on the beach (this really astounded me).
I’m not sure if it’s that it’s so much better in Cape Town, I think its more a case of Jozi city mismanagement is becoming more and more apparent. When we arrived back in Jozi on Friday, just in the short drive from Lanseria airport to home, we got stuck at intersections with 7 broken sets of robots, had to dodge a plethora of potholes and were thankful for our SUV so we could see over the (waist high in some places) unmowed and unkept grass verges. I went running yesterday morning and on numerous occasions had to perform long jumps to avoid running through the muck and waste of overflowing sewage drains. Not to mention all the open & broken electrical boxes lining the streets.
I’m certainly not saying Cape Town is perfect. The traffic there is horrendous, unlike Jozi where you can still fly down a 5 lane highway at 120km per hour, there you’re lucky if you can maintain a speed of 80km an hour on the N1 at 10am (yes this happened a couple of times to us) and the drivers there are annoying, its like everyone is half asleep behind the wheel. I also find people there somewhat unfriendly (gasp I know all the Cape Town peeps are going to have a shit fit at me for saying that but that was my experience) and why don’t runners and cyclists greet each other in the Mother City? What’s up with that? They run/cycle past each other and barely acknowledge the others existence! This was strange for me, I’m so used to Jozi peeps ALWAYS greeting each other.
But you know what? I want to go home! My heart yearns for Cape Town. After more than 14 years my heart is calling out to go back there.
Walter, on the other hand has a far greater move in mind…. but I’ll fill you in on those details if/when they become available.