My journal. Africa Trip, March 9 – April 6, 2016

Africa Trip, March 2016 Tour of Soweto Tour of Soweto 3

Continuing about townships. Our domestic, Vaida, lives in a township. Tembisa. She said she paid 1,000 Rand per month per room and had two rooms. That’s very little in US dollars right now, but it’s better to compare it with her income as a domestic, working six days a week. That’s about 6,000 R, and she rents two rooms. She told me it costs her 1,200/month for transportation. Taxi fare for her is 60 R, she also said, which works out to more like 2800 R. Maybe that’s both ways. And maybe she’s got some better deal. Recall that these are the taxis:

People wait for them along the main streets (and the taxis as they drive by, main or feeder road, frequently honk at walking Africans to get their attention. Not sure how the walkers know where the taxi is going – which would be to, say, Vaida’s township rather than another one in the opposite direction. People told me that they used hand signals for this. Apparently the drivers sometimes recognize their usual riders, for I saw one taxi on our feeder road honk at a woman and do a U-turn to pick her up. Of course, maybe she made a gesture I missed.

People waiting, taxis going by:

I never saw people like these in places like the McDonald’s in the background, except as employees.

And this scene repeated itself every late afternoon near our place in FourWays. Vaida said this is where she stood to catch her taxi home to Tembisa. She said she had to wait a long time and that it took more than an hour to go the about 12 miles home: (poor focus)

I need to mention that Vaida lives in her two rooms with her husband and three children. She told me her husband was unable to find work — and there is terrible unemployment in SA at this time. One always reads that it’s worse for men. Vaida’s husband was a teacher in Zimbabwe. Eric told me that he had taken Vaida home one evening and found that her husband, who had been working as a scrap metal trader, had stored his scrap in one of their two rooms. No running water.

 Vaida also told me that she supports family in Zimbabwe (and, BTW, she proudly showed me her official visa, there being great resentment among black South Africans for the overwhelming influx of refuges from Zimbabwe): a mother, brother, sister, and the three children of another sister, who died in giving birth to her last child. So she is the sole provider for those six and her own five. We had a good deal of talk about her situation. Always cheerful, she would clearly state from time to time that this was her fate, and her job was to live this life and make the best of it she could. She is Christian. I am convinced that there is survival that often plays out in reincarnations. Here she and I are in these lives this time. It is my job too to make the best of what my birth and karma have brought me to. And, of course, that reads out as the best course of action regardless of what may or may not lie ahead of us after death.

Here’s a link to a page of mine with a number of links to sources on the topic of the paranormal.