As we were preparing to land in Jo’burg I felt this sense of belonging and homecoming; after nearly two decades I stepped foot in the city in which I was born in for the first time. Chilly as the weather was, I was a Cheshire with the lightest of steps. After all this time, I was finally allowed to see where I had taken my first breaths. I was home.
As I was travelling with Alan who had a disability we were rushed through customs, which meant that we missed the queues. Giddy with excitement, I kept looking about in an attempt to feel some connection to this city. After arriving at our hotel, piling more layers on, we decided to head into Sandton. This was the area of Jo’burg that I was actually born in and hadn’t expected to see it so was unable to contain my joy as this plan was confirmed. On route to the mall we passed sights familiar to me from my childhood; townships, African people at robots (traffic lights), shops advertising biltong among other things. It was as if I had returned home.
Sandton is an exclusive area which lead to the Nelson Mandela mall being filled with boutiques and jewellery shops that one could see in most big cities worldwide so didn’t pose much fascination for us. It was so interesting to finally see the mall in which my mother walked in whilst waiting for me to be born, apparently I was stubborn and didn’t want to be born. Although I left this country as a newborn, I have this unexplainable bond with it. Some of the views were quite remarkable but not quite as breath taking as some of the sights I had seen in Scotland.
We caught the Gautrain back to our hotel, basically a little underground and over ground train that went between some of the nearby areas. Having been built for last year’s World Cup it was amazingly clean and the staff very helpful. It was an interesting trip which both illuminated some of Jo’burg’s exclusive and poverty stricken areas showing a country that had a mixture of classes with class ceilings more distinct than the British Government would have allowed. As with so many cities, it often had the exclusive areas bordering with the poorest, but it felt like home and I couldn’t have wished to be anywhere else at that moment.