Being surrounded by huge game reserves, it was only a matter of time before I blogged the inevitable safari photos. The ones where there’s a dot on the horizon with the excitable caption, ‘African elephant’.
Just 35 minutes north of my house (just 35 mins!) is a reserve with lots of big animals. I’ve never been particularly excited about big animals and stuff, but having seen a few close up, I’m much more excited. Having said that, my favourite animal by far was Mr Warthog, who’s actually quite little. What a fine fellow he is. He pulls off being prehistoric and cuddly, which I think is commendable. He’s also relatively friendly, so we could get within 4 metres of him, but he wasn’t up for having his tummy tickled.
This is a Hartmann zebra
Ostrich. A very amusing chap.
I went to a street party in Soweto a while ago. It rained. True African rain. Just like in the films. I took some pix of Soweto in the rain that I really like. Maybe I’m missing grey English winter days…
Wet highway to Soweto
Kids running on the street
A typical Soweto house
Food was being served out of a mobile food thing. When these guys aren’t dishing up, they run anti-violence workshops in Soweto.
So for New Year’s Eve, we went to Soweto. Soweto. I love the name. I love the place. I have indulgent, romantic perceptions about the place and I’ve no intention of getting real.
Soweto is a city of 3.5 – 4 million people, mostly black. It’s huge and when you’re there, it stretches beyond the horizon. The names of the areas of Soweto range from the fantastic to the Orwellian…from Orlando, Pimville, Meadowlands to Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3 etc. Funny how the old regime liked to make these places of forced poverty and degradation sound like paradise. Take the townships of ‘Eldorado Park’ and ‘Naturena’. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, why didn’t they go the whole hog and call them You-Lucky-People or You’ve-never-had-it-so-good?
On NYE we went to a house party in Meadowlands. They had a HUGE sound system thumping out house music in their tiny front garden, so the whole street was dancing. It was warm and lovely so everyone was outside. It was so loud that you had to get up very close and personal to talk. There were kids running, some old folk and lots of young people all dancing and smiling and shouting. Not a drop of cynicism or world-weariness in sight. Even mon amour was seen to dance, albeit briefly. And at midnight the whole of Soweto let off little single fireworks. The sky was full from every angle. The kids were setting them off in the street and running around with little handheld-put-put-rockets.
Which brings me to a NYE highlight that I think will never be repeated: naked men dancing on the roof of a house. Beat that.
While I’m here, I have to write 3 “letters” for the Quakers, who have very kindly given me this opportunity and who pay my wages. The first “letter” has been published. It’s about why HIV infection rates are increasing in South Africa while they are falling in other parts of Africa. You can read it online at http://www.quaker.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=90457.