I would like to write an entry for today. I would like to write something about South Africa that sums up my experience here, my feelings for the place, the reason why I am ready to leave, and the reason why I feel at some point that I must return.
I don’t usually get involved with my holiday plans. I mean, I usually leave it to The Pretty One to organise everything. It is lazy of me, and I don’t excuse it. I also feel that I should be more proactive about where I go. I fly in and out of places and I am a stranger. I perhaps read a guide book, but my history is sadly lacking. My history and my geography. It is ignorance on my part, that I need to address. I excuse it by hiding behind the vale of business travel, but it is shameful.
In South Africa I have visited places which I heard about as a child. Places that perhaps I never thought I would visit. It was a country that wasn’t on my radar, and probably would have remained off it, were it not for my best friend being here. But South Africa is a wonderful country, with wonderful people. It is a contradiction. It is Africa, but not Africa. Soft Africa for me. I intend to return both here, and to the continent.
Leaving, I will take some new friendships with me. People who I hope to be able to stimulate and hope will be stimulated by me in the future. People with a different perspective, but one I now truly value. A South African friend who has experiences and an intellect that astounds me, and has perhaps seen more of the real world growing up here and in her time in the UK, having to swallow at times any sort of national pride, as well as her language to prevent her being a target of bigots putting everyone in the same boat. It is more real than I can ever hope to learn from my well meaning visits to historical tourist traps. I will write about these at a later date, because I am sure of their value, but I know, in my heart of hearts that a lot of it is appeasing the feeling of ‘needing’ to have a ‘real’ experience in the country. It is about ticking that box and moving on. In Cape Town, you have to go to the top of Table Mountain. In Cape Town you must go to Robben Island. I suppose a holiday is a holiday, but as intelligent people, perhaps we should challenge ourselves more than we do. Small bite-sized chunks of history, zoo type tours of less privileged areas is a disservice to yourself, those involved and history itself.
Just a thought.