Steps!! – My first JHB CBD trip story
My grandmother used to narrate stories of how people fell from sky high flats in the city. She was trying to convince me to abandon the idea of pursuing my tertiary education in Johannesburg. My answer, as always, was “Koko ga keye go dula diflateng tše di telele kudu”. But she still persisted, trying to convince me that going to the city is not such a great idea, she did it religiously up until the last day. The only thing that gave her a tiny piece of mind was that I wouldn’t be travelling to the city alone, but with my aunt, who had spent the December holidays with us. I would be lodging at her and my uncle’s place in Soweto for some time, until I found student accommodation.
I was 19 and 6 months old when I first saw, smelt and found myself marvelling at the skyscrapers of the notorious Johannesburg. While the drum of excitement beat inside me, fear danced. I could finally understand my grandmother’s worry, it was obvious that falling from these buildings would necessitate a gathering of teary and heartbroken family relatives and friends at my mother’s house, with the sole purpose of giving accounts of how wonderful the fallen had been during their days before the unfortunate falling happened, comforting each other and eventually transporting and leaving the fallen at the graveyard with their body facing upwards, boxed in a coffin and a fresh heap of soil over this fallen hero’s body. Tragic, I thought to myself.
When the bus arrived in Johannesburg, it went past the city and dropped us off at Bara. It was after this drop off that I got to experience my first ever Metrorail train trip, albeit a very short one. No one had told me prior that a train only stops for a few minutes and if you don’t hurry, it leaves you behind. I almost got left on the platform, to this day I thank the guy who held my hand and pulled me in while my aunt was shouting “…tsena ka pela, jumpa!” I jumped in on a moving train, with the help of a stranger, during the stares – I ended up convincing myself that I undertook a sparapara mini lesson that I had not signed for, and felt proud.
After arriving in Meadowlands, I had to wait another week before going to the university to enquire about my acceptance letter. My aunt organised with her mother to take me there, by taxi, so that I can see the way. I had to sleep at her (my aunt’s mom) house in White City the day before, and had to take the train again, this time getting in as swift as possible, I was not having another sparapara lesson.
The next day, on a Monday, we took a taxi to town. We got off at a taxi rank, and she told me that this is Bree taxi rank and I’ll be catching the taxis to the university here until I find accommodation next to campus. I was like, okay, cool, thanks for the info. I wrote the information down. We get to the university, and we enquire and I get the letter and told to come back in 2 weeks’ time, on the day of registration.
On our way home I convince myself that I know the way, I’ll just take a taxi to Bree taxi rank on the day, and then another one to the university and register and go back home. My aunt reminds me to go sleep over at her mom’s the day prior the registration, and I respond by telling her that nah, don’t worry, I know my way. She gives me a look, and she says okay.
The following day I wake up and prep myself, stand at the gate and point up. A taxi stops and I get in. I don’t even greet because grandma had warned me that money disappears if you greet strangers in Johannesburg. I close the door and tap one brother on the shoulder to pass the money to the driver. Then we cruise down the Golden Highway to the city. When we reach the city and start driving in between the sky scrapers, one lady who was sitting to my left shouts “Steps!!!” The taxi stops and half of the people in the taxi get off. I don’t even look sideways, I sit and relax. The taxi drives further and people shout their after robots and get off until I am left alone in the taxi. The driver looks at me and asks, “Uyehla kuphi my sister”, and I respond, “a ke odhwe”. “Kare o fologa ko kae” he clarifies, and I confidently respond, “Bree taxi rank”. The driver stopped immediately, and told me, in a very unpleasant way, how we had passed Bree taxi rank a long time ago and now we’re at End street, and further told me how I should have told him that I don’t know where I am going. I just sat there, quiet. He got out of the taxi and stopped another taxi, and asked them to drop me off at Bree taxi rank.
I got in the new taxi, and paid my R5. The taxi drove and got to a point where it stopped, I didn’t know why he was stopping so I just sat and waited for him to drive again. He turned to me and gave me the look my aunt had given me the previous day, “suster ke gona Bree mo”. I was like okay. He asked where I was going from Bree and I told him, and he directed me to the taxis. I arrived on campus and registered. I went back home and narrated the story of what happened on my way to the university and he told me that Bree is actually the name of the street, and that when people shout Steps, they actually mean the steps(stairs) going inside the taxi rank.
By: Tshegofatso Rasekgotoma is a lecturer, a
blogger, a reader and an avid fan of the arts.
Twitter : @MissRasekgotoma
Facebook: Tshegofatso Rasekgotoma