November 16, 2008

Our fair city

It's always worth remembering how different Mthatha and the Transkei can be from some other parts of South Africa. That's what this travel writer discovered when he came to visit:

Places such as Idutywa, Butterworth and Mthatha are in desperate need of beautification and there is rarely any architectural marvelling to be done: anonymity and ugliness are characteristic in the rundown older buildings and the newer consumerist monoliths.

Testaments to Bantustan spatial planning, these pseudo-urban sprawls retain the inchoate feel of being laid out by a blind taxi driver in a bad mood.

The distinction between road and pavement -- tenuous at the best of times in the Eastern Cape -- becomes even less discernable as the region's entire population (dogs and livestock included) appears to converge on a single pot-holed road. It creates something of a witch's brew of obstacles.

Really, it's a nice place. He just doesn't know where to look.