This is no journey for old men. We have
too many entanglements, too many
memories. Too arduous to travel
south through a whole day or a whole night,
yet with too little time for unresolved,
unresolvable enigmas, day and night:
a single camel train in the Sahara;
sporadic bonfires in the Congo.
Whether Heathrow, Charles De Gaulle or Schipol,
after Security’s uncertainty,
there is the glare of Departures with its
faux glamour, its gimcracks, its gewgaws,
its profligacy – the entire world
to fly to. And the briefest moment
to observe the human condition:
our gestures, our rage, our laughter, our stories.
The clocks tick quickly at the world’s centre.
We must suddenly rush – into relentless,
blank walled, silent tunnels – excoriating
the effort and tedium of travel.
Yet the temporary optimism of take-off
revives – that two hundred tons and more
can ease into air, almost like a bird,
with all of manicured Europe beneath us!
As the undercarriage whirrs open and locks,
I remember the purpose of my journey,
thinking of the friends who are waiting,
whose struggles I can only imagine,
their stories monuments. So Joburg, Jozi,
the City of Gold does become ‘a country
for old men’ – who have lived long enough
to see, at last, a little justice done!