The central building at Auckland Park campus is a concrete monster, forming a half circle of sorts. Its various sections are referred to as “ring”, so the ten-odd offices that are the Department of English are on level 7 in the B ring, until last year sandwiched between African languages and German/Greek/Latin, the latter now extinct. The concrete mass is matched by bureaucratic hurdles that pile up between you and whatever you want to get done. When a prospective student has mastered his or her “matric” (the South-African equivalent to a-levels), they may realize that this is the real exam, with specializations in patience and stamina. Of course, I am exaggerating here. Once you are registered you get an access card, and with this in your hand you join the queue at the gates to register your finger print and walk in. “Walk-ins” by unregistered students are the horror for admin here – after all, you have to pay to be allowed in, and the fees are rather high. Which is why many believe that #FeesMustFall (see protests at Wits Uni here).
On my way from Livingstone to Germanland, I quickly stopped over in Jo’burg, and thanks to Vuyi (enkosi!), I could not only drop a lot of my stuff here, but also enjoyed my first night out in the big city. I was impressed by the skyline at night – where can you see anything like this in Africa? (only partly a rhetorical question) We enjoyed jazz pianist Yonela Mnana in a bar that was called, well, Kama Sutra, seedy names for some of their dishes included. But don’t get funny ideas, it’s a really nice bar. It was on this night that I realized I would be living in a major metropolis for the next six months (greater Jo’burg has 9 million people). The thought scared me somewhat, which did not exactly alleviate any worries about this town’s notoriety for crime and violence. And on the way back we saw police with firearms walking into a compound. Most likely a burglary. Welcome Johannesburg!