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At dawn, a white jogger ran along a side road

beyond the budget hotel’s high, spiked railings.

So the neighbourhood was safe. But for whom?

Later, beneath the barbed wire topped wall

of the dentist’s opposite – a notice warned

of armed response – half a dozen or so black men gathered

in ones and twos. Some had crude boards announcing

their crafts:  brick layer, gardener. Sometimes a pick-up stopped.

The men moved forward. There was talk with the baas.

Sometimes one of them got in the back.

I could not imagine such


On the corner itself, entrepreneurs set up impromptu stalls:

fruit and vegetables stacked symmetrically;

a hairdresser; a couple of guys changing car

exhausts; a man in rags selling a toilet seat.

All would have walked, I learned, carrying their gear,

daily up the road from Soweto, miles over the brow.




© Copyright David Selzer
2 Responses
  • John Chapman
    March 27, 2011

    And hundreds of thousands of our people march in London for fear of ‘The Cuts’. Not nice for sure but yet nowhere near Soweto’s dire existence.

  • David Selzer
    March 28, 2011

    Poverty is always relative but the suffering is not.

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