WAKING UP IN SOUTH AFRICA

When you wake up in South Africa, everything and everyone is together. We’re like runners bristling behind a starting line, all clumped in a colourful cluster of possibility. Our differences are worn proudly, how else would we stand out in the sea of neon polly shorts? Our commonalities, though, are obvious and beautiful. For starters, we’re all here. That isn’t a coincidence- we entered. Secondly, no-one’s trying to kill each other. Sure, you want to beat your old high-school acquaintance- the one who took the girl you fancied, damning you to a young adult life of social awkwardness and ineptitude. In fact you must beat him- whatever you do YOU MUST BEAT HIM.

The other thing you’ll notice is that no white people are trying to bring back apartheid. A few serious-looking pale faces may have come late and pushed their way to the front, but when the race starts they’ll drift slowly back through the field, because the best way in which to move forward is relaxed, and it’s clear that they’re quite tense, boet. Anyway, the last time someone tried to bring apartheid to the race ended in tragedy as one of the officials had a heart attack after trying to keep the white and black front runners apart for 30km. They probably should’ve done more split-training.

When you wake up here, the air is cool, the city is calm, the veld is alive, the sun stretches its warm fingers through the clear blue sky, and we love each other. And we’re going to run this road together, in our own bubbles of experience, but aware of each other running in front, next-to and behind us. And we’ll remember that closeness that we saw, felt and knew to be true, when we woke up and stood on the starting line of another beautiful morning in South Africa.

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