At night, driving, alone. A twenty minute journey from one bit of the city to another and not another car, not another single vehicle, not another soul. The retreat begins early. The afternoon rush-hour at its worst around 4pm. Get home early, go home early, behind the walls, shut yourself in, don’t go out. We noticed, when we arrived, that people invited us for dinner at 5.30pm. How strange. And the meal wraps up by 9.30pm. People go to bed earlier, I thought, because they work harder. But I think it’s more to do with
light & dark,
sun & moon,
safety & danger
I have an idea! Reclaim the Streets! Start small. Start with the city of Johannesburg. Just one day. Let’s all walk! Walk to work, walk to the shops, walk to school. Let’s see everyone on the streets, on the pavements, using the sidewalks. Get out of your cars, reclaim your city, your space, your neighbourhood. Walk together, talk together, move in the same space, weave in & out of each other. Touch, talk, look, flirt. Get out of the car. Take the air, enjoy the sun, laugh. Show each other you can move freely, you can walk freely. Go together, in groups, hold hands, march. Show each other we can be together. Just one day. Change the colour of the pavement. Change the colour of the bus-stop. Change the colour of the taxis. Leave your Mercs & Beemers and walk. Or cycle!
Hopelessly naive. Hopelessly idealistic. It won’t work. People wouldn’t do it. So, you do it for a day, and the next it’s back to normal: what’s the point? Nods all round. It won’t work. Not here. Does this mean there is no hope? Maybe. On campus, here, there’s a large red Hummer. A Large Red Hummer. A militarised vehicle. A vehicle associated with the US army, with the violent superpower army. And it’s here, on campus, a bright bloody crimson flowing red. For the aspiring student. Win a Hummer & you’ll never need walk again. Better still, SMS *brain dead* to 98760 and you could be the lucky winner of a reconditioned US army tank.
Meanwhile, someone in London said:
‘I gotta great deal on a holiday to Kenya! Safari.’
& someone responded:
‘Bloody hell! Are you sure you want to go there? Haven’t you seen the news?’
‘Yes, it’ll be fine, I’m sure I won’t be anywhere near it.’