You are now entering the Republic of South Africa

18 June 2010


From Jozi and Cape Town, South Africa 2010



Lloyd is from Zimbabwe and lives and works in George, SA.  Every 3 months he goes home.  His wife works in the US embassy and might go to India next year.  He's trying to build his house, brick by brick, so eventually when he moves back he'll have some place to retire in.

We chatted a bunch during the night bus. 


Lloyd is from Zimbabwe and lives and works in George, SA.  Every 3 months he goes home.  His wife works in the US embassy and might go to India next year.  He's trying to build his house, brick by brick, so eventually when he moves back he'll have some place to retire in.


We chatted a bunch during the night bus. Like most Zimbos, he warned me over and over again about South Africa.  At Jo'berg he guided me firmly and quickly to the main bus terminal and helped me find some place to change money.  After I while I told him I was fine, no need to worry about me.  He went off to do his things.

An hour or two later we meet again.  He got robbed.  At gunpoint. By two gangs at the same time.  They spoke Zulu or Xhosa to him, he had to answer in English.  Lost 100 Rand (€10).  I didn't have much money at all but I figured somehow I would get money, so I gave him 100 Rand since he didn't have any money left at all.  

He was realized that his future plan of buying building materials in Jo'berg wasn't going to work.  He can't carry cash there.


During the night they play the music pretty loud. I'd heard a bunch of South African gospel before but the bus driver played really good stuff.  9 part harmony, a taut sparse rhythm track of just claps or a foot/clap house beat.  The vocal basslines are amazing, 2 part harmony.  Many people including Lloyd were singing along softly harmonizing.  All around me somebody would be singing. 

So later I'm talking with Lloyd and he gets excited when I tell him I'm a musician and digs out this tape.  That's him 3rd on the left above.



From Jozi and Cape Town, South Africa 2010

  On the bus the previous night the conductor gave a long speech (in Shona) which I guess was introducing the driver and mechanic and telling us about the journey.  Everybody listened intently even though most seemed like they took this ride all the time.  Then he led everybody in prayer for a safe journey, and it was quite heartfelt and plain spoken.  I can just imagine being on a bus in the US and having the conductor lead us in prayer — yeah, right.

Coming into SA was bizarre.  We were made to get out of the bus 4 times.  After all the small town police and sleepy border crossings I'd been through, SA really seemed like a big bad republic with one hell of a lot of authoritative power.  Everybody wants to get in there because of the comparatively European style welfare system.

The customs guy selected me to pick on. I was the only white guy.  He went through my bag, pulling out my packet of soup broth ("feel free to open that up if you wish" I said.  "DON'T TELL ME HOW TO DO MY JOB")  He complained that the police report from Harare was missing an official stamp and therefore it was worthless.  The stamp was on there I pointed out.  He kept searching for something to catch me on.  The computer.  All of my stuff has been pulled out of the bag and is lying on the floor of the bus.  The computer must be claimed upon entering the country.  No other country would ask such a thing, there was no notification to me that I had to claim personal items.  I wouldn't budge, nor would I stop being polite to him.  Very annoying.  He gave up and let me go on.


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