Here I am, I was driving through town, I haven’t been here in ages, and it is amazing how we get so nervous and actually into absolute fear, we feel threatened, to the core of who we are, everything around threatens us just because it is so different to what we are used to.
If only I tried to live the experience, but no, I was more concerned about: am I going to be hijacked, can I drive with my car window open, will they point a gun at my head if I do.
There’s me driving on an expensive car, a white woman amongst, I would say, 95% of people of other races. I felt threatened, I really felt threatened. I would have loved not to, I would have loved to be able to drive around and see all the things I don’t normally see.
I live in the suburban areas where everything is kind of organised, any bit of disorganisation already sends us into a spin, into panic and stress, and get us into nervousness mode.
Here I am, the streets are chock-a-block, with cars, and taxis, and buses, and people crossing everywhere, regardless of the chaotic traffic. A march of truck drivers blocking the CBD traffic, police cars, with sirens going all the time, music playing out loud from every shop, and every shop plays its own different , music, people talking loudly, walking so freely – which we, whites, don’t do at al. That is walk on the streets. We take refuge in safe and sound shopping malls.
Instead of enjoying this new experience, I was more concerned about my safety.
I think that we should really try to break the shell, sometimes at least, definitely without risking ourselves and our security, we should try to experience a bit more of this other side of the country we live in. And yes, it is quite sad we don’t.
What is even sadder is that I was once upon a time not scared at all, once upon a time I walked everywhere, I went to the most exotic places of this city. I remember going to this place called Mai-Mai Market, which was literally a witch craft type of place, which was only visited by black people. I and a friend were literally the only white people in the market.
We went through the most amazing experiences. I used to go into these city adventures and yes I was robbed a couple of times but thankfully never harmed. Maybe now things are different and a trip like those I used to embark on would probably result in physical harm. I wouldn’t do it now.
But, what I am trying to get to is that I have been in South Africa for 22 years, and I have definitely allowed myself to be fully influenced by the white vision of this country, and slowly but surely adopted a way of living that was not mine to start with.
It makes me sad because I was not like this at all. Somehow I lost a piece of me, and I realise it today. The fact of the matter is that accidents, disasters and tragedies can happen anywhere and everywhere and when we live in fear we do not live at all.
And that is exactly what happened today. I did not live at all. I could have driven through that long Commissioner Street and actually observe what’s new, compare it to what was there before, try to tap into my memory bank and observe how things evolved, I could have looked at all the richness of a way of living that is just on our door step and we know nothing about.
We are not used to it, so we feel threatened. And lost in these insecurities, we embrace ignorance and know nothing about the city we live in.