How far we have have we come South Africa?


The woman sits on a bus

nothing special about that

It’s not that woman or 1955

times have changed

so they say

which is why this white woman finds herself

sitting on the wrong side of history

on the right side of a local bus which is really

just a white minivan

known as a black taxi

transporting blue collar workers

who are African

not black.



The woman checks herself

for the sweet sickly smell

of sweat

the perfume of hard labour

that pushes its way through the aisle

like a bully forcing people to shift up

pinning their naked skin to vinyl seats

shoulder to shoulder

job to job

sunrise to sunset


but the woman only perspires



as is her right and privilege

as a white woman

in a black taxi

transporting blue collar workers

who are African

not black.


The taxi has not progressed

Much for the time it has taken to get


which is nowhere really

from what she can see

the road names change slowly

too slowly

off Albertina Sisulu

over Mandela Bridge

looking across at Queen Elizabeth

until finally

a sign she recognises

Jan Smuts

the giant vein that runs



through the city

congealed with eyes

through glass plated windows

that see hers shifting


between two women she only knows as stereotypes

their identities hidden under layers and layers

of synthetic materials

a Proudly South African label loosely tacked on

Made in China


The woman is glad when the taxi seats fill up

Because now it will move


in her direction

but the taxi door keeps sliding open

letting in more and more people

who sit on the edges of seats

and stand joking in the aisles

and the people let them

laugh with them even

like they were long last sisters

and brothers

walking the same long road

to what




The woman is sweating now

She has no choice

or voice

that will be heard over the giant plastic bags

That have been past down the rows

And left to squat on empty laps

To make space for more people

to stand up for no-one and nothing

in particular

standing shoulder to shoulder

along Enoch Santonga

like they were about to sing the national anthem

in his honour

but couldn’t find the music for all

the empty promises

that leave them

still standing


in every aisle

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

God Bless Africa







Categories: Poetry

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