Ag in Africa

12 June, 2007

Lost and (pro)found

Filed under: Development worker, johannesburg — Ag @ 11:05 pm

Where I am

I’m always getting lost.   

There’s a strange thing here with maps. They’re not popular. When I travel in my car around Joburg and Gauteng, I consult my map if I don’t know where I’m going. But most folk here find this odd. They have little patience with it. When they are in the car with me, they fling it in the back seat and say, ‘Let’s just go Down There (which is Anywhere), then we’ll ask someone’. That’s how they find their way. And it always works. My most-admired-friend Vincent once picked up my (hefty tome-like) map, waggled it in the air and said, ‘So this is what you people in Europe believe in!’ Yes, I do, and it makes sense, but I also felt a bit embarassed.

I’ve got lost quite a lot recently. I couldn’t seem to focus on why I am here and that’s a Bad Thing when I’m so far away from my home landmarks. And it can get depressing because, when I don’t know where I am, I rely on the things I am so familiar with – partying, socialising, adventures. Although these are wonderful important things, they are not Why I’m Here. Then, through amazing grace, things happen which show me where I am and where I want to go. Tonight it was a film. It reminded me of what I can do and where I want to do it. And why. So tonight I feel eyes-wide-open again, and such strong energy. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

I’m also going to try the African approach – ‘Go Down There and ask somebody.’ This will be really difficult cos (I’ll blame it on Englishness, but it might just be me) I’m not in the habit of asking people, ‘What should I do? Where should I go?’ But I’m very excited about where they might take me.



  1. Love reading your stories on my country … makes me laugh.
    I am one South African that swears by a map book. I have two in my car, one for the whole of Gauteng and on for Pretoria. I don’t go anywhere without consulting it first, especially if I don’t know where I am to go to. I am not one to ask for directions, probably because I am a woman (strange, cos men hate asking for directions!!!). I am scared that people could take advantage of my vulnerability as a female. Another reason I never stop and ask for directions is because of the stupid crime situation in our country!!!

    Thanks for sharing your travel stories. Enjoy the rest of your stay in my beautiful country!!!

    Comment by ADDIE — 13 June, 2007 @ 10:11 am

  2. Earlier this week I witnessed a Sarth Ifrikin laydee on the number 9 from Temple Meads asking ALL the people on the bus where a Brissol street was, and (gasp) asking the driver for help. (He didn’t.) She then managed to wrestle an A to Z off a businessman-type who seemed petrified by her outgoing demeanour. When she got off the bus she asked a YOUNG MAN (the bravery!!) who shook his head solemnly – dismissing her without speaking, and leaving her dazed and confused on the pavement. Naturally I would have loved to help. But didn’t. Isn’t England grand! Annie x

    Comment by Annie — 15 June, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

  3. Don’t suppose you could give me directions to the chemist?

    Comment by Danny — 21 June, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

  4. I like that way of navigating.
    When I give directions to anyone, if what they’re wanting is not in view, I say “Go down to that corner, the next street, and ask someone there”
    Is much more sensible than giving complex directions.

    Comment by Aurelius — 25 June, 2007 @ 10:38 am

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