Sunday 19 June 2011
Driving past Soweto (South West Township)...WTF? I blogged before about how weird the school run is when I follow signs home to Johannesburg, still struggling to get my head round it...I used to spend my evenings at Saltleys, Old Sihillians and Wast Hills training ground while Daniel trained with Birmingham City, now I sit in a car park at Pretoria University in the evenings, reading my book, tweeting and using my little stove to brew cups of tea, same shit, different car parks...but this time instead of following the M5 into Worcestershire and off at Junction 7 to Malvern its the N1 south to Jo’burg..Dan and I struggle to get our heads round it.
On Monday Dan is off on a school trip to Soweto, the letter home read and I quote ‘If I did not think this place was safe, I would not be taking your child there. In all the years I have taken students on a history trip to Soweto, there’s has not been a single incident where a child has been harmed’...
I am NOT alarmed, I signed the form.
We drove past Soweto a few weeks ago to go to Heaven on Vaal for a works outing. We were told DO NOT follow the GPS as it takes you through Jo’burg and Soweto itself. So we did as we were told and drove along side Soweto on the N1 south. I was apprehensive, the closer we got the more dangers there were, but these came from dogs sauntering across the road and people, people crossing the 3 lanes of traffic, standing on the white lines of the outside lane waiting for cars at 120km/hr to pass. We narrowly missed a dog and a car that swerved violently to avoid a cow...the N1 is equivalent to a UK motorway.
We’ve passed many townships and even drove through one in Rustenburg on our way back from Sun City, don’t trust the GPS here. But Soweto is huge, it stretches for miles..the iconic landmarks of the World Cup remain the concrete towers highly decorated.
It saddens me to see people live like this and it’s not through choices they’ve made. In the UK a homeless person has the option of help and rehabilitation and are usually homeless through choices they’ve made...good or bad...but here, it’s all so different....the townships look like allotments, patches of lad with a small shed sized building with a tin roof, goats and chickens, rubbish piled up everywhere, some have electricity and sanitation, others nothing.
You see patches of the Highveld mowed and kids barefoot playing football, women carrying bags of food, clothing on their heads and everywhere you look people are busy, doing something, fixing roofs, tending the land, returning from work or from looking for work.