Thursday, June 09, 2005

This post should really be called the view from 0 miles.

Yup, I had a little trip back to South Africa. A family emergency brought me back.
So what's changed?

Prices have skyrocketed. In fact, I would say the price of food has doubled since I left in October 2001. I bought a belt and paid more for it than I would do in Europe. Silly, huh? South Africa can no longer call itself a cheap destination.

My blood has become thicker. I wore my Dutch summer clothes at 11pm in Johannesburg in the middle of winter and was fine. I was not cold. The South Africans were complaining.

Otherwise, not much has changed at all. News of the day is a corruption scandal. Schabir Shaik has been found guilty of having a corrupt relationship with the deputy prime minister. Ho hum.
What is different is that Shaik is going to jail. Zuma is not going to resign, he's going to stick it out. The youth are holding protests in the street to support him. The newspapers are calling for his rapid departure from politics.

I don't know the story behind the headlines. Bribery is part of it. I always wonder why they arrest the people who offer bribes, when the guilty parties are those that accept them. In some parts of Africa you can't do business without first paying a little incentive. I know one person who did work for Kwazulu-Natal and could not be paid until he presented himself in person, with his invoice and ten per cent of the sum due, in cash. You're going to arrest him for doing what the Kwazulu local government expects?

There are still ants in the kettle. I had forgotten what a nuisance ants are. They are everywhere. I haven't seen an ant in either England or the Netherlands, certainly not in the house. Here, my sugar is ant-free and stale kettle water contains only bits of floating buildup.

It was nice to see old friends and family again, new babies, new pets. The kids have grown so much I wouldn't recognise them in the street. Montaigne never made it though he said he would and is now in my list of has-beens.

But I regret to say I had no regrets. Rien de rien, as Piaf would put it. I wonder if I'll ever find a country I can truly call home.