It´s going to be awfully tough to go back to the reality that I´m used to within the comfort of the States after such an amazing experience here in S.A. Reporting on rodeos, dust laws and hard-hitting weather issues in Scottsdale will never be the same. I´m seriously contemplating packing up and moving here after all is said and done. Believe it or not, journalism is alive and well in S.A. Only five percent of the population uses the internet, so people actually resort to reading the newspaper like our grandparents used to. Crazy, huh. I´ll appologize ahead of time for the punctuation in this posting. The computer I´m using doesn´t have a question mark key, or my favorite, em/dash function.
Anyway, where to begin…
I spent the majority of yesterday at the Methodist chruch. We were given full access to the facility and were escorted by the head security guard. The former Zimbabwean army captain was actually made famous by a french journalist who chronicled his escape from jail and miraculous journey into S. Africa. After speaking with him and countless others, I´ve found that most male refugees fled their tyrannically-run country without notifying their families. The captain´s wife and three-year-old daughter only recently received word he was alive after he scraped up enough Rand to phone them. He smiled gleefully when he spoke of them.
He led us down the dark staircases and tunneled us through the mounds of personal belongings that consumed the wealth of the corridors. We were finally greeted by the unique smells of boiling chicken and exotic foods and looks of uneasy Zimbabwean faces in the basement. They soon warmed up to us and many were anxious to have their photo taken in hopes of money or alcoholic gifts in return. We offered them neither. The experience was sombering, to say the least, and I´m anxious to share my pictures with you as soon as I find a computer competent enough to accept my camera files.
Unfortunately, I´ve got to run. We´re heading out to the townships today to speak to the same communities responisble for the 65 deaths and countless brutalities caused by xenophobic attacks just a few short weeks ago. I´m also working on gaining access into one the refugee camps scattered around Jo´burg. I´m hoping to spend the night at the camp with the refugees in order to gain insight into their struggles.