I was travelling home from a dinner with some friends. Zola*, my taxi driver, strikes up a conversation. Like many drivers he goes for politics. He chooses the classic opening line: “Eish, the country is going down the drain…”
“Really?” I say. This driver looks unusually concerned.
“Yes, there is racism everywhere. And they say the foreigners are taking our jobs.”
“That is not how it works,” I counter. “It is not like there are only so many jobs and only a few people can have them. In a healthy country there are enough jobs for everyone. If the country grows, the amount of jobs will grow and there will be enough for us all.”
He thinks for a while and says: “I did not think I would meet someone like you tonight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you not afraid to be here with the black government and the politics?”
His question reminds me of another taxi driver on another day – one who looked and talked more like me. His name was Arno. Like other drivers, he also talked politics and it was me who asked him the question: “What do you say about some politicians wanting to drive us into the ocean?”
He answered with a defiant smile: “Hulle moet maar probeer [Let them try].”
This is not my response to Zola. Instead I answer truthfully: “Yes, I am, sometimes, but…” We have stopped in front of my house by now and I wish to end the conversation on a lighter note, “… don’t worry. My friend Bheki* said I can hide under his bed when they come for me.”
Zola does not yet unlock the car doors and I see the conversation is not over. I wait patiently to hear what is on his mind.
As he unlocks the door he says: “You can come hide under my bed too.”
*All names changed
Thus and other stories at the Stellenbosch Woordfees
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