I remember, perhaps six years ago, a growing awareness of the probability that people with whom I shared a clear political position might one day become, if not enemies, memories. I started to see that my very definite dislike of super-consumerism and super-materialism was, in fact, what they were seeking. Or if they weren’t seeking it, they had little choice but to accept it. So we are no longer common allies in a time of peace. The friendships start to strain. The commonality shows gaps. A friend wrote: And now that Angola is wealthy, you see an interesting strain of jingoism. It feels like a crisis. A crisis I shouldn’t claim to belong to. But I do, in a very personal way. This is a side of globalisation that I feel I carry with me, that hurts in my heart, that should not be written about publicly. It’s an ache. Understandings slipping away. Roars of partnership, of shared battles, echo so far away, I no longer remember how they felt. Someone said: This is democracy. But it feels like hell. I don’t want to go window shopping for different takes on the world, I want comrades and real fights. I don’t want to blush because I can’t afford to fly somewhere, or eat somewhere, or buy clothes somewhere. Strange clashes of class and consumerism distort somewhere over the Atlantic. The battle I thought I had joined, I was never more than an observer. A desiring observer. And the fighters I thought were my fellows, stride away into a world I don’t ever wish to be part of. There’s perhaps a handful of us left.
But not only. Others with whom I thought I shared nothing, have come out of the shadows and I can see them very clearly. I’m reluctant, this time, to allow optimism incase I discover again it was another misunderstanding. But patience is a hard thing to hold on to these days. Danke ouma. Time is running out. I wish I’d learned Afrikaans. That’s the one thing I regret about my 11 months in South Africa. I wish I’d learned Afrikaans.