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Pilgrims of Fortune Part 2

Thomas, a former primary school buddy had convinced me there was life beyond Harare. I had known him since grade one, so I valued his insti...

Thomas, a former primary school buddy had convinced me there was life beyond Harare. I had known him since grade one, so I valued his instincts.

In a month, we were ready to travel.

By Derick Matsengarwodzi

Fortunately, Thomas managed to get money for an air ticket. I had to endure the long journey by road.

My friend landed in Pretoria whilst I proceeded to Johannesburg. We were separated, we eventually reunited in 2009.

His experience is equally challenging, just like mine.

Anyway, I don’t know anyone here, except Philemon – we went to the same primary school two decades back, together with Thomas. I am not sure if he remembered me at all.
Arrivals At O. R Tambo Airport, Johannesburg 

He had assured me I could go and stay with him at his house. I am not convinced if ever he is coming for me. He never gave me the exact time. I hate waiting, especially for someone I last met five years back.

The nearby Methodist church was a refugee centre that catered for people with different needs. Some were genuine refuges, whiles some sought aid but were fugitives in their own rights.

Abandoned, others would find exile inside the derelict flats dotted around the city. The owners are anonymous, however the rentals are affordable.

For R10 a day, you get an allotted thin strip of space divided by curtains in order to contain privacy. Couples will have to suspend their marital rights until the building is declared free.

Security is nil, so you carry all your valuables on you. Raids are frequent here, you have to learn to adapt quickly or ship out before you gathered the fortune you came for.
Central Methodist Church In Johannesburg Was A Refugee Centre 

There is nothing much to occupy me. Hence, I located a nearby tavern. After all pubs are the easiest places to trace, especially in a hectic city like Johannesburg.

It’s now 10:00 am. The bar is already a din. Patrons are splashing wads of Rands. No wonder they called it the city of gold? I am also here for some of the treasure, if I can locate it.

I shoved closer to the bar counter.

Regular imbibers, judging from their conversations with the bar lady, are occupying the most convenient bar stools. They all eye me suspiciously. Is it because of my dressing?

I ordered a castle, my unparalleled favourite. In no time I request for a refill.

This is what happens when you don’t get your adored drink after almost three days on the road. I explained this to the bar lady in English, exposing my alien identity in the process.

She nodded, and walked to the fridge, scooping an extra cold quart. I popped it with a grin of acceptance.
Johannesburg Nightlife 

She responded with a spacious smile and proceeds to the next customer. It’s refreshing to see a smile in this part of the world. It makes me feel accepted.

As the day gets older, the action thickens. Beautiful, childlike women relentlessly stream into the pub. They dress in miniature skirts exposing themselves up to the most secretive parts.

As the ladies came in, jets of cheap deodorants take over the bar substituting the tobacco pong.

During the commotion, I suspect someone let out a still fart, but no one bothered – it was a bar, a public place. This action is tolerated here.

At night, some turn into thigh hawkers, roaming the city streets in search of probable clients.

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