I was ready to leave the house at twenty minutes past 5 that morning to Lanseria International Airport from where I will fly to Cape Town. Normally, the trip to this airport from the Johannesburg Central Business District where I was should take some 40 to 45 minutes on a taxi. I was however not too buoyant to afford the luxury of getting a private taxi for this trip. I had also tried to leave earlier but my host Sizwe had advised me to wait a little while so that more people would be on the road – this is because, the traditional taxi operators would always attack the modern ones who operate using apps likes Uber and Bolt. I heeded to his instructions.
My intention that morning was to go to the bus taxi terminal at CBD and from there, take a bus taxi to the airport. Sizwe promised he was going to order a taxi for me online, a gesture I was very grateful for because not too many people will do that for a friend. An Uber taxi arrived in less than 5 minutes and I was bound to where I thought was the bus taxi park in the CBD which normally take up to 5 minutes or less.
To my greatest surprise, the driver was going on a different direction from what I had set on the Google map app on my phone. When I queried why he went a different route because I had requested for a trip to the bus taxi park at CBD, he showed me the trajectory of the map on his own phone and then told me that the trip was meant to take me to the airport, and not the park. South Africans refer to buses as taxis.
What a surprise from this South African. This same young man who helped me save almost 200 Rand for accommodation the previous night, catered for my dinner and breakfast is now also paying for my transport fare to the airport. I could not find enough words to thank him. Even when I called him to ‘protest’ why he had to do this, he told me he did it because he knew my option would make me miss my flight to Cape Town. Up till today, even though we still talk, I still do not believe the young man is a human being – he was an angel sent my way.
Arrived the airport and checked in 10 minutes before the boarding gates closed. There is no other way I could have made it to the airport at that time if not for Sizwe’s kindness. We were boarded and departed for the 2-hour flight to Cape Town.
Somewhere midflight, we had a medical emergency onboard, a passenger required medical assistance. I had once volunteered and was trained on how to resuscitate people during emergencies like that one but the cabin crew member was particular that the person who must render this duty must be a medical personnel. First of all, have helped a few times with translations inflight. I have had a situation where the cabin crew had requested for any passenger who could communicate in French to come forward to help with translations for a fellow passenger. You need to see the pride and ‘nganga’ with which I walked down the aisle to intervene in the situation. I advised myself that the situation at hand is life related that the basic Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) I was taught do might be insufficient to help this passenger in this present situation. While I sat down there arguing within me whether to go or not, a black madam with a scarf on her head like a Roman Catholic reverend sister, who also is visibly in her late 60s came up to attend to the situation. She spent almost 25 minutes in there with the sick passenger and the crew member before eventually returning to her seat. Only heaven knew what they were doing there that long, I would run out of ideas of what to do next in that situation in 10 maximum
Landing in Cape Town was very remarkable and beautiful. The different mountains, vegetation, natural formations and other sights were so nice to behold. We landed exactly two hours after. It was time to explore Cape Town.
Upon my arrival, I notified my kind mentor Michael Noel that I was around – I sent him a message to notify him when I was leaving Johannesburg. He drove all the way to the airport to pick me up with some of his friends and relative. From the airport, we went straight to a Wine Tasting Tour.
Cruising the streets of Cape Town was like cruising the streets of heaven. I have never in my whole life seen a city so beautiful and well planned. The blue sky and the shinning Indian Ocean view made it look more or less like a dream land. Am not sure I have seen anything that beautiful in my entire existence. There were also lots of tourists in the city.
With Mike in the car was his friend Zlatan, a South African with European descent. Josh, his young nephew and Harjeet, an Indian who is also colleagues with Zlatan. We toured Cape Town. Went round the city and had lots to eat and drink.
At the Wine Tasting tour, we were offered varieties of different South African made wines. They said all sort of things about the wine…just to justify the amount that was paid for the tour. The also had some biscuits and raw dried meat to accompany the wines. I was tasting the wines with these gentlemen but I was not really interested – I was hungry and I was beginning to feel broke – being out of my country for almost 20 days in more than 5 countries and having overshot my travel budget. I smiled along as we tasted all long, at least, the boss was paying for them all.
Finally, there was a glimmer of hope. The light appeared at the end of the tunnel – it was time for food. We had walked into this open restaurant and ordered for the menu to get something to eat. I was happy I was going to at least deal with one of the challenges bothering me. Suddenly, I became worried, I wondered if the type of food they had would be edible and acceptable by my Nigerian standards.
The food was served in 15 minutes. We were served at different times because it took different times to get the different dishes ready. Somehow, I was the last person to be served. The appearance of the rice was somehow worrisome and when I tasted it, it was exactly what I feared.
The type of rice they prepared by my Nigerian standards was very horrible. My late great-grandmother will curse whoever prepared that concussion of a meal if she was the person served. As I ate it and smiled with my friends, I wondered if the people who prepared that ‘village traditional medicine’ which is synonymous with its unpleasant taste ever tasted the food before serving to their customers. Personally, if I was the one to pay for it, I would have demanded for a refund. That food in my thought should come handy to a Nigerian parent who would want to discipline (punish in Nigerian language) their children for committing unpardonable offenses at home. I can’t still find a proper word to describe the dish. I maintained a smiling face since every other person was ok or pretending be ok and politely asking others to taste what they are eating saying ‘it’s good!’.
Afterwards, we went skydiving. That was something I would have wanted to do personally but I was not ready to part with almost 1000 Rand for it. Skydiving in Cape Town costs between 800 Rand to 1200 Rand, depending on what time of the year one is visiting. Mike, who I fondly call boss asked if I would want to skydive but I politely said no, knowing that I had spent quite a lot on the overall trip and would not imagine making someone part with that amount. Josh his cousin was going to skydive while we drive down to the other side down the mountain to pick him up. Driving around Cape Town was such an amazing thing – everywhere was neat and colorful –it looked like a dreamland.
The day was already far spent and it was almost time for me to go back to the airport as I would be flying back to Lagos that same night. I had a very nice experience down there in Cape Town, but I know that not having enough cash and finding good food to eat made it a bit unpleasant. I plan to repeat the trip very soon.
The boss dropped me off at the airport and we flew 1 hour 30 minutes this time back to Johannesburg. I had to pick another taxi back to Johannesburg CBD to get something to eat at least before going to the airport for my 2am flight back to Lagos through Kigali.
The boss had recommended I ate a local South African dish called pap before I leave the country and I was determined to have a taste of it before I travel back to Lagos. It was not difficult to find a street food seller who sold pap and meat sauce. One of the customers who saw how I was rubbernecking at the manner the seller was cutting the meat and serving the pap asked me where I come from, noticing the whole thing looked strange to me. He smiled when he heard I was from Nigeria and he joking told me that this is not ‘Nigerian semo and egusi soup’. He asked me to join him and eat his dinner, so I could have a taste before it gets to my turn to purchase for myself, a request I politely obliged.
Personally, from my observations, the different South Africans I met during my trip were very nice and kind to me, even when they got to know my nationality. There was no frowning or rejection unlike it was in Mozambique. They all smiled and welcomed me and took time to explain things to me, knowing I was new in South Africa. This confirmed to me what a Nigerian business man told me about South Africa when I went to submit my application for the South African visa. I had told him I was worried to visit because of several xenophobic attacks by South Africans but he informed me that it was not the case. He continued that when there is any form of xenophobic attack, that people normally targeted are people who deal on drugs and other criminal activities and I confirmed it. From the people at the airport when I arrived, to the taxi drivers, to the people I met in the mall, even to the people I stayed in the houses – the Airbnb and Sizwe, the people I met in Cape Town, they were all calm and kind and were friendly.
When another wave of xenophobic attack broke out, I tried to find out from some of these friends who I had made what could have possibly escalated the attacks to the magnitude it was. First of all, they noted they were not involved and the people who were involved are miscreants. They however spoke out against crimes and drugs peddled by some individuals of foreign nationals which included some Nigerians. They also noted that some of these offenders who even though they do menial jobs, could afford to buy very expensive cars and live like kings – a situation that would get anyone worried about their source of wealth.
However, when I spoke to a Nigerian friend, he told me that the expensive car he uses was bought on mortgage and he was going to pay for it in 5 years. He noted that loans are accessible once you have anything legal doing in South Africa. He argued that the government and the authorities should do their work by investigating people who are suspected of involving in crimes or have wealth that cannot be explained.
I arrived the airport, checked in at around midnight and we flew Kigali from where we continued to Lagos the next morning.