I remember packing my bags with great anticipation for what the future I was heading to held. It was a dream come true for me to be crowned with the glory of studying at University of The Witwatersrand. My arrival in the city of gold was not as golden and glorious as it had seemed in my dreams and thoughts. The pain that pierced half of my heart was knowing just how helpless I was because my mother was not around anymore. She was four hours away from me and I did not want her to know how the life of this city is not as fine as I had always imagined. My goal is just to get a degree and to make everyone around me proud.
The City Gold has all the lights that could penetrate even into an island that is in the middle of nowhere. Looking from a balcony at night, you can see how the lights make this place look so alive but inside there is a lot of darkness. Perhaps darker than the pits of hell. One arrives in this city and one starts to realise that the streets of this city are not entirely paved with gold. Love is rare to be found in the hearts of everyone who has been condemned by the rough living of this place. It is in this city that One gets to understand the real meaning of the “survival of the fittest”.
There are people who call this city home and I wonder if their lives are just normal like our lives back in the villages. It breaks my heart to open the fridge and find nothing in it knowing that it is almost impossible to get a degree with an empty stomach. Friends are few and far between and my family thinks life in this city is heaven. It is not the same as back at home- you could get out of your house and take a walk with a stranger without fear of getting mugged.
Streets are filled with smoke from the braai stands of young men trying to make a living out of braaing chicken gizzards. Blind women and men- oh what is wrong with this place- sit on bridges singing for money, whilst the sun hits the centre of their heads so hard or are they not getting government grants?
Opportunistic men have filled the streets and always have something to say to young women like “Come, I give you house, I give you nice nice.” Murder is a norm and people do not get traumatized when they hear a gunshot because gunshots that take away the lives of the innocent and guilty have become part of their everyday life. People wouldn’t care if someone beat you up and took your phone; they merely take a glance and move on because they too fear for their lives.
Young girls are always roaming the streets with their waists and thighs on display for everyone to see. Dirty young lost bodies that have been emptied of life are never rare to find, they are always sitting on pavements injecting substances into their veins. You go out to buy bread at night and witness young women selling their bodies and people sleeping on the floors of the streets in lieu of beds.
Life in this Johannesburg is almost predictable. You know where to go if you want to get mugged. You know where to go if you want to see someone getting stabbed and you definitely know that when the paper in your pocket has been torn and left you broke you will find mercy in no one’s heart to share a plate with you.
Coming into this City was a journey into the Unknown but now I know that life in this city makes one stronger.