Monday, April 09, 2007

Gangster's Ghosts

Johannesburg, the over-grown mining camp it is, will always be a snake-pit. There's no two ways about it. Everyday I spend here is a struggle. I know Jozi like I know the back of my hand, and there is a part of me that loves it. And a part of me that hates it.

This is place where things happen, anything. And you have to be prepared for that. Life in the fastlane, lost in the mainframe.

Over the last week I've seen many ghosts, memory flashbacks mostly, but some real ghosts too. The ghosts are here for me to see plain as day. Most of them are benign, but the sharp edge of memory is real too.

Today I went back to where I used to live in Yeoville, at the top of the ridge, overlooking the city, thunderstorms sweeping the eastern skies, the sun bearing down on Hillbrow and the city centre illuminated by bright spotlights.

My struggle is that I know how life can be different; I know this place, it's hope and misery. At the end of the day though; there are only two kinds of people on the planet. Those who were born in Jozi, and those who weren't.

Acceptance. That'd be the keyword to it all. I don't think I can fight it much longer... I have to accept Jozi and how it has shaped me.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Live from Jozi

3 years. That's how long since I was last in Jozi, and how much I've realized that things can actually change in 3 years. My piece on Johannesburg was written a number of years ago when I was on the ground, before I decided to spend some time in fortress Europe. On a short scale of 3 years, the change in Jozi is far more pronounced than anything I've seen in the time I've spent in the stagnant pool known as Old Europe.

Jozi must rate as one of the most hectic places on planet earth, but the multiplier effect here is even more intense than most people realize. This is a deadly city that has not outgrown its mining camp origins, but rather embraced them and made them a way of life. This city should have a Surgeon General's warning like a packet of smokes: Jozi can serioulsy damage your mental and physical health, in a terminal way.

Crime and grime, pollution and prostitution, prosperity and poverty all go hand in hand in a mad dance around the roaring flames of a fire out of control. There is something here though, that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else, and that is a dynamism, a "can do" attitude that drives people, sometimes the wrong way, but generally towards something better.

How you find that is your choice. All I want to say is that I see something here that I don't see much anywhere else; living in Jozi presents you with life's starkest choices on a daily basis and where only the strong survive. Don't tolerate arseholes. Kick Back. It's hard. Deal with it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Just a note...

... to say I'll be in Jozi for 2 weeks so my posting might be even more erratic than previously.

One thing that I must admit is that it will be a joy to get away from the wank-fest known as a "Presidential Election" here in France.

So hang-tight and stay tuned for my report from Jozi.


Yes I have been keeping quiet lately. Too much else to deal with, really.

That doesnt't mean that I haven't been watching what has been happening. But read my last post, Johannesburg, 'cos I wrote the substance of it over 10 years ago but I believe it still holds true. Yes I know it still needs more work to really make sense, but I will work on it until it does. In the meantime feel free to comment on it. Everything helps.

In the big picture today is no different anywhere esle on this planet- we must understand our her and his story - to understand where we are today.

All I ask is for us not to make the same mistakes twice.

Peace Now.