A Letter to Johannesburg

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Dear Johannesburg

Johannesburg, Jozi

I’m writing to express my sincerest apologies for the insensitive words I’ve uttered and stereotypical behaviour I’ve shown towards you. The truth is I didn’t like you much. In fact, I didn’t like you at all.

I’ve made demeaning comments about your crime, lack of greenery and absence of an ocean. I’ve made judgments about your traffic, your way of driving and your big city life in the concrete jungle. I avoided you like the plague. Whenever I heard your name I saw a big soul-sucking urban monster eating away at people’s hearts; a monster greedy for money, a monster trapped in the rat race, a monster that has lost his way.  

One moment I found negative words flowing from my mouth and the next moment I found myself in the thick of your skyscraping madness when an opportunity arose to linger around your concrete chaos for a month or two.

My initial response was, “SHIT”.

I approached your mayhem cautiously; looked over my shoulder, clutched my bag and sighed. I didn’t understand you. I didn’t get why people chose to live in you. I didn’t get why people defended you.  I didn’t get you.

But then something happened.

I felt the heartbeat of your CBD and marveled at your creativity. I walked through your markets, tasted your artisan talent and heard your voice.  I experienced your vibrant city life and caught your infectious energy. Your concrete jungle turned into urban magnificence; a vein of Africa, a hub of art and a cultural centre. I gawked at your revolutionary architecture, your inspiring growth and your essential socio-economical contribution. You made me feel, for the first time, the spirit of Ubuntu, part of something bigger, part of something extraordinary.

Dear Johannesburg, I apologise for my cynical remarks and mean comments. I sincerely apologise. You have your traffic, you have your crime and yes, you are far away from the fresh ocean air, but you are not half as bad as what I’ve imagined. I have to pat you on the back for not standing still, for moving forward and staying ahead. I have to pat you on the back for your modern attitude and your successes. I have to pat you on the back for your humbleness, your leadership and perseverance.

Dear Johannesburg, I’m peeking into your soul and I’m kind of getting you now. You’ve changed my mind, you’ve changed my perception. The truth is I think you are kind of special. I think you are unique. And now that we’re friends, Jozi, I have to tell you: I kind of like you. In fact, I like you a lot.

Warm regards,
Your Friend

Johannesburg, Jozi

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