Yes I made it safe and sound to the luxurious and secure confines of the conference hotel for the 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture in Joburg! The journey was as expected, long and tedious and passed in the darkness of the night flight cabin with the joys of film entertainment, amidst gently snoozing Americans off to ‘do Africa’ – all of it – from what I could gather in a nano second. After the initial slight panic of where is that hotel transfer, as all the dire warnings sent with the conference details came back to me (‘make sure you order one’), I found my name on a tiny sign amidst the gang of Avis guys ready to whisk delegates away.
The taxis sped along huge new motorways still under construction with flyovers to nowhere, which my driver assured me would be completed in time for 2010 and the World cup along with countless stadiums. The under construction bit also meant we were quickly in a traffic jam and my driver asked if I minded taking a detour: suppressing the obvious cliches of every African movie I had ever seen, I smiled brightly and said ‘no problem’. We then took a tour of a suburban Joburg, every house gated, electric fenced, and security alarmed with armed response units for good measure. I asked if people also kept dogs, of the guarding variety, but my driver replied ‘ooh no, not since that woman got eaten by her two dogs put everybody off’.
We progressed through different nationalities of suburbs including a Jewish area, through streets with names of Murray and Knox, apparently the really posh bit of Joburg is also called Morningside! My goodness those Scottish Engineers certainly got about.
The Hotel is in the most wealthy part of Joburg. I ventured to the nearby mall for a phone card and was dazzled by the array of expensive shops. Everybody who works in them seems to have to travel in. I chatted to a girl who takes two taxis to get to work from Soweto every morning – it takes her an hour and a half.
I am currently trying to book onto a tour to Soweto and the museum telling the history of the events of 1976 for tomorrow morning….