Nelson Mandela; the name calls up images that some would like forgotten. Apartheid for one and years in prison for a lone man whose white-haired exit from his enforced incarceration caught the world’s attention, compassion and imagination. The most recent image that springs to mind is that of an obscene travesty. One that was started by the great man’s avaricious family who have now officially declared the beloved Madiba dead after months of maintaining the fiction of him still clinging to life.
I sit here amidst the jumble of a partially cleared suitcase, with the the contents scattered across the entire living room couch, an empty backpack; trip laundry (waiting patiently to be washed) and assorted clutter from my four day fact finding mission to South Africa. As short frenetic life changing journey’s go, this one has been startling, eye-opening and mesmerising. I did not go to the usual tourist destinations, my journey was off the beaten path. A path that is now followed by the world’s journalists who, like myself, are looking for information.
Since Friday, when I first started on this fascinating and first of many trips to the country that of South Africa, I have been conspicuously absent from the world. No posts, not even sporadic ones, on my little blog. No tweets on Twitter or Friday shout outs; no Facebook updates. I was invisible for the entire period of my travel and return. I did post two tweets saying that all would be revealed upon my return, but that was at the end of my journey.
This is the first of a series of posts that I will be doing that are apart from my work for the Guardian Express and not of a film nature. These will be my own personal observations and what happened (again, on a more personal level) on my journey. I’ve already written one post and it will follow this one shortly.
I am tired and I’m still suffering the effects of an inoculation I required for my lightening visit to South Africa. I haven’t washed in two days and I’m putting it off until my second cup of coffee and second blog post of the day have been completed. One of the benefits of living alone is that I am the only one who could be offended by the odour of travel dirt and sweat and the remnants of the South African country that still cling to my clothes and body.
I stayed with our local correspondent’s friends and both sets of folks treated me instantly like a long lost relative. At all times in this off the beaten tourist path I had to take, my safety and comfort were the top concerns of my hosts. My short life changing journey was one filled with information on how to survive this dangerous part of the world. South Africa’s crime rate is staggeringly high and it affects everyone, regardless of colour. Outsiders are especially at risk.
I am deeply grateful that I had the support of these “local’s” who knew which sections to steer clear of and how to “travel” from one area to the other in relative safety.
Although I am now back home, I’ve already been told to set the groundwork for another trip to this fascinating country. I still have much to do from the first trip. As it was primarily a fact-finding mission, I have to collate all the pictures I took (over 1,500) copy recordings from an interview, transfer my notes from the visit (slowly and painstakingly from a small “reporter’s” notebook to printed page) and start work on editing the articles written by our talented staff that will be based on my informations. I will have my own articles to write as well.
I am now trying to get my things, and me, organised. Getting ready to have a nice soaking bath. My entire body aches, I feel like I’ve gone a round with Mike Tyson. I am bruised, battered, sore, dirty, and at the same time, excited, deeply satisfied, and changed.
I have somehow stumbled into a job that I never saw myself doing. I had only started working for the Guardian Express in April this year. I was made Deputy Managing Editor/Senior Entertainment Editor and I was very, very happy. Now through the paper and fate, I’m working in a slightly more serious capacity than reporting what Miley Cyrus‘ latest tattoo is.
I am now doing things that a year ago would have induced gales of laughter from me, as I have never dreamed of doing anything like this. My last few years of change are now cranking up yet another notch as my newly exciting life changes yet again. God must be chuckling to himself at my bewilderment. Last year, I pretty much felt that my life was over; at least the interesting and challenging part of it. And like many other mortals, God (or whoever is in charge of our fate) has set out to prove just how wrong I was.
My short life changing journey to South Africa that strayed far from the tourist’s beaten path has been yet another sudden change in my perspective and vision of life and where I seemingly fit into it. My own personal journey has thrown me into an international arena with professionals who deal with the type of news that I will be reporting on a daily basis. I am now a “proper” journalist. It excites and terrifies me at the same time. A lot like South Africa itself.
To be continued…
- 3 century old person found in South Africa (jakhongirshaturaev.wordpress.com)