Sorry about that

I seemed to have gone missing in action for a while but back home for a few days so a little catch up for anyone who might still be following this.

I managed to spend a little time in Soweto which is really South Western Township (and they had a competition to come up with the name “Soweto”, go figure. Now normally all you see of this place is on the TV and mainly to do with something going wrong, riots and the like and even last year there was some trouble with xenophobic attacks on people. The South Africans are concerned that given the economic state their neighbors are in having lots of other nationalities there is taking jobs from the locals.

Anyway the place itself is fairly well organized and so it should be with 2.5 million people in it. It has hospitals and several hundred schools, universities, shopping malls and all the facilities of a town. In the main the houses are small probably only 2 or 3 rooms but I have to say they do seem to take care of them and most look well managed. Not a lot of open space or flowers but maybe that is because spring is just arriving. Surprisingly not a lot of litter or graffiti some but not to the extent you might expect. Driving around people are just getting on with there lives and doing normal things. There is a cemetery where they claim there are 300 funerals a day which might be interesting to see but it is not on our itinerary. We do pass by the worlds largest taxi rank but to be honest you don’t see much so you have to take their word for it. They have 2 old power station cooling towers which are no longer in use which they have painted which is quite a sight. All bright with adverts and religious pictures on. Plus some bungee jump thing strung out between them for people who can hold their dinner down. Also not on my list. The actual power station they belonged to is still there but no longer working. My guide pointed out that despite its location it never supplied power to Soweto it was all for the people in Johannesburg not sure where the locals got theirs if they did. There is a section of the town called dark town as it has no electricity so as you would expect it is dark at night. Net it does not look as scary as you might imagine however not sure I would want to be wandering around on my own or at night.

We pass some “unregulated” dwellings which is a euphemism for tin shacks put up where they shouldn’t have. These have nothing at all except a few tin or canvas walls although I have to say there were many washing lines with clothes on them. The pigs running around the edge of the small river next to it completed the scene and you have to wonder how people survive this type of existence although my mother used to tell me you can get ued to anything.

We swing up past Nelson Mandela’s house and that of Desmond Tutu and the common quote that it is the only street in the world to have produced two Nobel peace prize winners add another layer to the place. Lunch is in a local place with local food. I have a lamb curry which is full of bones and comes with some vegetables which I do not recognize. Why did you not remind me not to have the chef special you are supposed to be looking after me. Anyway I survive and we continue wandering around . There are a couple of huge Football stadiums we see (sorry soccer) one is the new world cup stadium ready for next year and the other a local team the Orlando Pirates. Both places look like they hold 60 -80 thousand people and I know the local population is almost as devote about football as they are religion. There is an “unregistered” settlement next to one and I have $10 on that being moved before the worlds TV cameras get here.

They have put in a brand new bus lane system which people are already complaining about as it takes work away from the local taxis which are white vans really. It is strange when proposed improvements are seen as detrimental to local culture. Not sure anyone would say the taxi system which is stop anywhere and pick up people is ideal but it seems to work and people are used to it so having to find a bus stop, which by the way are in the middle of the road and queue seems to be a little too much “improvement”. We shall see,

Off for a drive in the country next to the “Cradle of Humankind” should be enlightening.