Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Staying safe in SA

The son of my friend is apparently such an awesome athlete that my scarcely populated nation has decided to send this 17 year old promise all the way to South Africa to train along with a team of other promises and a coach. I come in the picture in the receiving end of a rather anxious e-mail. My friend has asked for my assistance.

It seems that the news of the current safety situation in South Africa are yet to reach the media in my country, or they just haven't really sunk in with the general public, i.e. the coach, who is looking to rent a house for the team through the internet with little regard to where the house is, or how the house is. The seeming unawareness of the dangers here might, yet again, be the unfortunate case of 'there is so much evil and bad stuff happening in Africa that it flows off my back without ever registering into my consciousness'. Unfortunately, many of us Europeans are often attacked by this syndrome. I seem to suffer from it off and on when it comes to parts of Africa, other than my immediate surroundings. How easy it is to close our eyes, and stay behind these, often electric walls of ours. 

Don't get me wrong, I love this country, I love living here, I adore the people, I adore the customs, and love being privy to the mix of the different cultures unlike anywhere else in the world. But, unfortunately SA, and especially the area of Gauteng, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located, is amongst the most dangerous areas in the world currently not at war. According to Nation Master, per capita SA has the most assaults, rapes and murders with firearms.  Heartbreaking, especially since many of the victims are children. It seems that when it comes to rape, the myth is that engaging in intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS. Sometimes the world just kicks you in the gut, making it almost impossible to breathe. 

Why am I writing this most negative of posts? Because my friend informed me that the coach of the team was looking to rent a house with the requirements being limited to the number of bedrooms, and a location near the needed sports facilities, so they wouldn't need transportation. As you might have guessed, walking around in my hood might not always be a smart idea. My friend had gotten scared for her son's safety and wanted the local scoop on the different areas. Granted, I'm no local, but I tried my best. 

I quizzed my friends regarding different neighborhoods around here, and proceeded to write one of the most difficult mails ever. I love this country, but understand its shortcomings as well (or at least try to), and as much as possible attempt to see the humor in them. Still, there are aspects of this country where humor is simply out of the question, and only horror prevails. I cannot imagine how it must be sending your child (and he is still one at 17) far from home to a foreign country. Not to mention a foreign country, such as South Africa with its often very frightening reputation, and trusting your child with someone who perhaps has not clearly understood the precautions required by that same reputation.

I'm sure the team will have a great time here, achieve a lot, and most likely their stay will be entirely problem free, as our life here so far has been. Still, as many of my friends often remind me: "It never hurts to be a little paranoid."   

1 comment:

Rohini Prasanth said...

Hi. I am a new follower of your blog. I found it from the 'blogs of note'. I love the way you write. Kudos to your writing style. Your blog is an inspiration to me in many ways.

Till today, I only read a couple of your new blogs and they were all very hilarious. Thought I would go through your old posts, as much as I could, to get a feel of your blog and frankly to understand how to continue on the path of bloggin..

This here comment is because of your powerful line ''Sometimes the world just kicks you in the gut, making it almost impossible to breathe''.. I have experienced that feeling before, but could never put it down in words as clearly as yours. Really strong.. and here I thought you only wrote knock-them-on-the-floor-and-make-them-split-their-sides-laughing kind of posts.

I hope to see your book published one day (if it hasn't yet?) and I hope to be able to read it.

Do keep up the good work.