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Pole to Pole

Day 125: Johannesburg

Soweto, South Africa 
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Reunion with the Gwangas: a cow dung welcome.
Michael Palin - Pole to PoleHaving seen the unreal best and the depressing worst of Soweto I'm ready for a little normality - a dose of straightforward friendship uncluttered by projections and statistics. I repair to the Orlando district to see the Gwangwas. Outlawed from South Africa for belonging to the ANC, Jonas, a musician and co-composer of the music for Cry Freedom, his wife Violet and their two children took refuge in many cities including London. I never imagined I would ever see them in their own home, and the pleasure of the reunion is tremendous. Violet welcomes me with such a hug that I fear another rib will crack, and on the yard of their house is what I am assured is a traditional African greeting - 'Welcome Michael, To Gwangwa Family' - marked out in dried cow-dung.

Violet apologizes for Jonas's absence. 'He's at a meeting with Nelson Mandela.' Now there's an excuse.

We go to lunch at a shebeen, originally the name for an illicit liquor shop, but now applied to a rather decorous front room in a nearby street where, over a licit can of Castle lager, Violet talks about being back home.
Soweto, South Africa 
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Reunion with Jonas Gwangwa.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 125
  • Country/sea: South Africa
  • Place: Soweto
  • Book page no: 281

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