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Tears for Jozi, the city of gold, and the reckoning that we are doing just fine

Peter Kimani

It was so refreshing to arrive home last weekend and be greeted with our usual stuff: a long-confirmed pick up wasn’t available, but had instead sent a buddy of his whose car could hardly fit us all.

But let’s focus on the positive and say how wonderful it is to be back home, and how delighted I was to escape the blackout at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by a whisker.

“It’s a nation-wide blackout,” I heard folks say with deference, over the next day or two, one would think we should have been more respectful of Kenya Power because the blackout cut far and wide.

Anyway, before I pontificate about shida ndogo ndogo, my trip home steered me away from harm’s way, the sort that descended yesterday in Johannesburg.

Dozens have been confirmed dead, many of them undocumented immigrants surviving on the fringe of South African society. I’d have been among them—not as a resident of the condemned building, and veritable deathtrap—but a potentially undocumented immigrant and craftsman—a plumber.

I saw it on their faces; I heard it in their voices, mostly taxi drivers from Southern Africa who move around with hearts in their mouth, unsure what lies ahead. I have a fresh understanding of our country: we are doing just fine.

We might suffer a “nation-wide” power blackouts once in a while, but South Africans have endured it for years. And our buildings tumble while under construction, before they can be turned into death traps.

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