From Sabie, I took a black taxi to Lyndenburg, another one to Witbank and a third one to Pretoria. I was always the only white person in those black taxis so I finally realized why they are called black. Personally, I think they are safe for any backpacker with an open mind.
My South African adventure was coming to an end. I decided to skip visiting Johannesburg because of all the reports of the high crime rate in the cheap Hillbrow area where I would have stayed. I don't mind taking risks as long as the odds are acceptable. Jo'burg is one of the places I prefer to avoid, like Nairobi, Caracas, Lima and all of Algeria these days.
That's why I decided to head for Pretoria where I bought a one way to Cairo. I stayed in the Pretoria Backpacker's Hostel on Bourke street. The photo above is that of the Old Raadsaal on Church Square.
The black majority was visible in Pretoria but I remained perplexed. After a month here I realized that I had been speaking only with whites (except for that lovely 22 year old Zulu), whereas I had managed to exchange freely with blacks in most of the countries I had just traversed.
In fact, I should not have been perplexed to observe that the democratic takeover by blacks of political power did not give them the mastery of their economy overnight. It will take generations for the blacks to heal the damage done by generations of subservience, especially if they maintain their present democratic orientation with respect to that regeneration. The Chinese have moved more rapidly to seize control of their future and to recover their self esteem but the cost has been horrendous.
Today, the South African black majority is nominally free but it remains dependent on an outside reality that is still foreign to their culture and values. I am profoundly moved by this picture of black kids enthusiastically looking outside the gate of their day-care center for it symbolizes Africa for me.
As I had not managed to get a real contact with the black majority I decided to go on an organized tour of Pretoria's black Mamelodi suburb. In front, an English girl, an Austrian young man, me and a German fellow. In the back, Michael, our guide and chauffeur, "X" who happened to be there and Joseph the manager of this illegal speakeasy.
Mamelodi, a Pretoria Suburb is an example of the places the black majority has been kept hidden from white view. This particular section of it is relatively recent. You can tell it has sewers by the succession of outhouses along the outside enclosing fence.
Mamelodi has sewers and public taps where the neighbourhood congregate to get water and engage in social activity.
Life is difficult in Mamelodi but the ability to adapt is fundamental as these kids proudly show with their homemade toys.
South Africa has come a long way but it still has a long way to go...
I have seen poverty like this elsewhere but it is more shocking to see this hidden reality after spending a month touring the highly visible, clean and comfortable white South Africa.
I did not feel like visiting Soweto, this was enough.
Now, I was on I was on my way back home. I flew back to Cairo, and visited Israel, Cyprus and Morocco on the way.