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Showing posts from February, 2011

Something for the weekend?

First day at the office

“You will have to sit in the back,” Rachel says as she opens the car. She grins ruefully. “The front door is stuck. I keep telling my husband we need to sort it out but he is Johannesburg a lot at the moment.” I clamber into the back seat. The interior of the car is like a furnace; my shirt clings to my back. It is 7:30am but already hot. Rachel revs the engine and we move out of the parking lot.“Where are you from Rachel?” I ask as we pass the boom-gate of the medical campus and onto the highway.“Zambia. I came a few years ago to study at UCT. And then I stayed.”“Why did you leave?”“I did my medical school in Zambia but there are not many opportunities for graduate study up there. And my husband had more opportunities down here.”“Do you think you would ever go back?” She smiles and shrugs.“I don’t know. Its home but what would I do up there? And the children are in school here. They didn’t like it much at first – it took a while but now they are happy.”“What made school difficult?”“O…
We step out of the air conditioned halls of the airport into a blast of Cape heat. It is nearly 30 degrees and I am wearing jeans and walking boots. I have been met by three friends from Hlabisa days, gathered in Cape Town for a wedding. We are chatting animatedly in the car as we leave the airport complex - developed massively for the 2010 World Cup – and I am struck by how glitzy and new everything looks.
10 minutes later and we are hurtling down the freeway towards the city. Table Mountain looms ahead of us, cloud pouring over its edge like the head on a hastily pulled pint. As the road curves the towers of the city centre buildings bristle at the mountain foot. I turn to look at the road side – I had seen it before but I am still startled: the glass of the airport buildings has given way to the shacks of the Townships and informal settlements that line the freeway. Thrown up with scraps of wood, corrugated iron, and plastic sheeting these are no temporary shanty towns. There are st…

The return

After 3 years back in the UK I am returning to South Africa. This time to help with a research project in Cape Town. Kick off next week.